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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
1/6/09 9:36 P

Hour of Power
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Joy ACT-chieved—"Accomplishing Your Dreams"
By Robert H. Schuller


"Jesus said, 'These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.'" – John 15:11 (NJKV)

The fifth and final point of the Christmas star is ACT-chieve. I've deliberately misspelled the word achieve … ACT-chieve because that's the key!

ACT! Be like a sprinkler head and let the water of joy flow through you. Be like a fountain pen and let Christ, like beautiful ink, write His message through your life.

What are your dreams? What would you like to achieve? What could you do that would bring you great joy? Do it! Care to be a dreamer and then dare to ACT!

Take a moment right now and think of one of your dreams that, when accomplished, would bring you joy. Then commit to it by writing down the first step you must take to ACT-chieve your dream. Do it with God's help.

Our star of joy is only complete when all five points are there. Joy is present when we conceive, receive, believe, relieve, and ACT-chieve.

Father as I look forward to a new year, help me to ACT on those dreams You've put in my heart and long for me to achieve. Renew my faith in You day by day as I attempt to achieve those dreams to which you've called me.


MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
1/6/09 9:34 P

Hour of Power
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Joy Relieved—"Lighting Your Way"
By Robert H. Schuller


"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness." – John 12:46 (NKJV)

The fourth point in the Christmas star of joy is relieve. Joy comes when we relieve our minds of all negative thoughts. Fear, hate, doubt, suspicion, hostility, unbelief—all of these are negative forces that rob us of joy. Faith does not harmonize with any of these negative emotions, so we must relieve our minds of them.

I recall one chilly Sunday when a small dead spider in the thermostat at the base of the stairs in our first sanctuary knocked out our entire heating system.

If a dead spider can do so much destruction, what do you think one prejudice, or one hate, or one worry that you hang onto can do to your faith? Joy fills the vacuum left when you relieve your mind of negative thoughts.

Christmas is a celebration of joy. Jesus Christ came as a light into our world so we don't need to lie in a joyless environment of negative living.

If the sparkle of faith is gone this Christmas season, then today is the time to see where you have been negative, and concentrate on the joy that is available to you now!


O God, shine the light of Your Spirit into my mind so that any negative thoughts that are there are exposed and transformed into good, wholesome and winsome attitudes.





MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
1/6/09 9:21 P

December 14, 2008

Joy Received—"Becoming a Child of God"

By Robert H. Schuller

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." – John 1:12 (NKJV)


Yesterday I suggested that the first point of the Christmas star of joy is conceive. Today let's look at the second point of the star of joy, one that I call receive.

God’s wonderful book—the Bible—not only introduces Jesus Christ to the world, but makes it very clear that if you ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, He will. The three wise men traveled from the east to see this newborn King, they received Him as their King, and "they fell down and worshiped Him" (Matthew 2:10).

Christ reveals Himself to us through thoughts and ideas that come into our minds about Jesus. He comes into our lives through a personal faith in Christ. Now I can't explain this reality scientifically, psychologically or in any other way, but it is a fact. The Bible teaches it. I believe it. And so can you. Try it! You'll see it works!

If you have never before invited Jesus Christ into your life as Savior and Lord, do it this Christmas. Let the mind of Christ reach into your being and receive Him.

Whether you have just now invited Christ into your life, or if you've invited Him in before, take a few minutes today to write down on a sheet of paper, or in your Bible or journal, what it means to you to have received Jesus Christ. Receive Him with joy!

Faith conceived is joy received.

* * *
Father, what joy there is in knowing that I can be called Your child simply by believing in Your name. What a gift—I receive it with joy!

* * *


MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
1/6/09 9:20 P

December 13, 2008

The Power and Impact of One Child

By Robert H. Schuller

"For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." – Isaiah 9:6


A child is born.

A seed. A snowflake. A mosquito. An atom. A baby. All five have something in common. All five, by themselves, are very insignificant. But in each case, their effect can be multiplied to create an unbelievable power and impact.

The snowflake stopped Napoleon in his invasion of Russia. A snowflake defeated him at Waterloo.

The mosquito halted the construction of the Panama Canal.

One seed turned into a fruit tree, which turned into an orchard, which turned into a fruit-bearing, food-serving industry that fed a nation.

The atom, harnessed as a bomb, ended World War II, and probably was responsible, more than anything else, for ushering in the longest era of international peace without a world war, since the Pax Romana.

The seed, the snowflake, the mosquito, the atom – but a Baby born in a manger in Bethlehem surpasses the impact and influence of all.

In less than a month all calendars will observe His birthday. His name? Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I call Him my Friend and Savior.

What will you expect from this Baby, the Christ Child this Christmas? His miracles are abundant as ever. His powerful love still moves mountains.

One seemed small and insignificant until a Child was born. That One became immeasurably significant.

* * *
Lord Jesus, You entered this world with little to no significance. You came as a child, born in a manger. Yet there is no measure on earth that can adequately determine the significance of the life You lived among us, and the life You gave to save us.

* * *


JAMESALLEN74 SparkPoints: (0)
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12/31/08 11:40 A

http://gregboyd.org/

Greg Boyd is one of my favorite preacher/teachers in the Kingdom.

MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:45 P





December 12, 2008

May You Be Filled with Joyful Expectancy

By Robert H. Schuller

"The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ." – Luke 3:15


There were still seven shopping days left before Christmas. As I passed the room of my youngest daughter, Gretchen, I noticed she was sitting on the floor surrounded by envelopes and sheets of clean stationery. On closer inspection, it looked like she was busy writing letters. Now Gretchen never writes letters, so naturally my curiosity was aroused.

"Gretchen," I exclaimed, "what are you doing?" Caught by surprise, she looked up at me with a big smile and said, "Oh, hi, Dad. I'm writing my thank you notes."

"You're what?" I asked.

"I'm starting to write my thank you notes for Christmas now, so you and mom won't have to bother me about it after Christmas," she explained.

A little confused at this point, I continued, "Gretchen, how can you write thank you notes for presents you haven't received? How do you know who to address them to or for what you'll be receiving?"

"Oh," she enthused, "I've got that all figured out. I'm going to say, 'Dear Friend, thank you for your wonderful gift. I'm enjoying it very much. Love, Gretchen.'"

I laughed at her ingenuity and said, "But Gretchen, how do you know you will enjoy all the gifts?"

"Oh," she countered, "I just know I’m going to."

That's what you call advance planning. But her anticipation produced within her a spirit of joyful expectancy. She was living in the arena of goodness. When you expect good things to happen to you, your attitude will change. Your spirits will soar, your face will beam and you will be filled with joy and enthusiasm.

Positive anticipation produces within us a spirit of joyful expectancy.

* * *
Lord, how challenging it is to wait, and especially to wait with joyful expectancy. Help me to savor each moment of this Christmas season with a sense of childlike wonder and joyful anticipation. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:44 P





December 11, 2008

What's on Your

By Robert H. Schuller

"Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" – Luke 18:27 (NIV)


If you could have anything you asked for this Christmas what would you ask for?

This is the question our family asked each other as we put up the Christmas lists on the side of the refrigerator. "Write down anything you want…add color and sizes too," Mrs. Schuller and I would tell them. Of course the lists always include outlandish and impossible requests, but it makes for lots of fun. One Christmas our son-in-law asked for a new sports car. He described the model and the color. So Mrs. Schuller and I found a toy car identical to his wish. Those Christmas lists are so revealing of each of our family.

What you and I ask of God reveals how much faith we have in God's abundance. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have…" He wants you to be among the haves, not among the have-nots! You can expect more out of life.

Become a possibility thinker today. Make your Christmas list today for God, and add to the end of each sentence…

What you ask God for reveals how much faith in Him you have.

* * *
Father in Heaven…I believe that You are waiting to give good things to those who ask You, so today, in faith, I am asking that You…[fill in your personal request].

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:43 P





December 10, 2008

A Joyous Exclamation!

By Robert H. Schuller

"For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples." – Luke 2:30 (NKJV)


W. Clement Stone said, "The greater power available to man is the power of prayer." These are the words of an extremely successful business man. He had learned there can be no ultimate solutions to any of our problems unless we are in tune with God's Spirit.

God is the Source of all supply. It is God who makes the seed rupture and send its tender shoot through the spring soil, reaching to the sun. And the seed is not content until it produces and multiplies.

God is also the Source of life and abundance in humans. Do you have a problem? Are you lacking anything? If your answer is "yes" to these questions, then look at your problems with new vision, recognizing that all pain, all problems, including poverty, were really not designed by God. Ask yourself, "Is the problem due to disharmony in my own life as it relates to people, to society and to God?" If so, then I urge you to get in tune with God's Spirit through prayer.

Begin by praying, "Dear God, help me to see my blind spot. Open my eyes and my thinking to see Your salvation."

Today's Scripture verse is the joyous exclamation of a devout man, named Simeon, who, through prayer, knew he would see the Christ Child with his own eyes before his death. As he held the Holy Babe in his arms, his joy was complete.

The stream of joy begins at its source…with the Spirit of God in prayer.

* * *
Lord Jesus, as we move into the Christmas season, help me to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas. Open my eyes and allow me to take in all the joy You came to bring this world through Jesus – the Christ child.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:42 P





December 09, 2008

The Perfect Gift!

By Robert H. Schuller

"Perfect love casts out fear." – 1 John 4:18 (NKJV)


For countless numbers of people, the "Merry Christmas" greeting is a stab to the heart, because emotions of grief and tragedy surface to the top, making this season almost unbearable for them. Among the tragedies I have witnessed in my years of counseling as a pastor are those of broken relationships where there is no love, only fear.

One day, shortly before Christmas, Mary came to see me about her marriage and I asked her, "Why did you ever marry him in the first place?"

She answered, "When we first met he proposed marriage," she said. "But I didn't love him and said, 'no.' His answer was, 'If you don't marry me, I'll kill myself.'"

"I thought he was kidding. But he attempted suicide and ended up in the hospital. I felt guilty so I went to visit him. While there, he pleaded with me to marry him and this time I agreed."

And for twenty-four unhappy years she lived in the fear that if she left he would try to commit suicide again. Her marriage was based not on love but on fear. And fear produces horrible results. Love produces miraculous rewards.

Christmas is more than carols, ringing of bells, laughter and get-togethers. Christmas is the celebration of God's perfect love in coming to earth to cast out fear. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…"

This Christmas may you know the true meaning of Christmas and may it be a Merry Christmas for you and yours.

Because of God's loving gift of Jesus Christ, you are free this Christmas to be a loving person.

* * *
Lord Jesus, You came to take fear from life by giving us perfect Love packaged in the gift of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:42 P





December 08, 2008

Are You Making a Living or a Life?

By Robert H. Schuller

"Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver." – 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)


Christmas is a time of giving and sometimes this tradition can cause stress, but think of what the act of giving does for us. We all know people who are wealthy, but who have no joy. In giving, we discover a deep joy and feel good inside.

A good friend, W. Clement Stone once said, "I've discovered that super rich people who do not really give generously, and who do not look upon their wealth as a stewardship from God, usually come to the end of their lives filled with bitterness, frequently committing suicide."

His statement reminds me of the Dead Sea. Fresh water comes from a brook and fills the Sea of Galilee, which is alive with fish. And then the Sea of Galilee takes the water and gives it to the Jordan River, which turns the desert into a rose and makes it the land of milk and honey. And finally, the Jordan River gives its water to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is dead because it does not give itself away.

This is a universal principle. If you want to live a life filled with joy, you have to give. Giving is the key to prosperity. Giving is the key to joyful living.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." – Winston Churchill

* * *
Lord, it's only what we give away that allows us to experience the beauty of a life. Today, may I be a cheerful giver of all that You have given to me.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:41 P





December 07, 2008

Our Miracle-Working God

By Robert H. Schuller

"And when they opened their treasures, they presented gifts to the Christ Child; gold, frankincense and myrrh." – Matthew 2:11 (NKJV)


The car we were riding in was obviously a very expensive automobile. I commented to the driver, "It looks like you're doing very well."

"Yes," he said, "by the grace of God, I am prospering."

Then he told me his story.

"Eleven years ago, at the age of 52, I didn't have a dime. I was broke, but I had a dream. I wanted to run a restaurant and make a success out of it without getting involved in the liquor business. Everyone told me it couldn't be done.

"I read a book on ways to succeed through having the right attitude. The author said to never let a problem stop you. I needed money, so I went to a wealthy lumberman and presented my dream to him. Miraculously, he agreed to invest in my dream! Today I have six restaurants and my net worth is over a million dollars!

"But the exciting thing is what just happened recently. I have always been a tither. Last year, competing restaurants went up on both sides of my place. On top of that, the energy crisis forced us to eliminate our advertising lights. So my advertising source was cut and competitors were moving in. And then my pastor made an appeal to our church to double our tithe for the year. My wife and I prayed about it, doubled our tithe, and now here's the exciting news—last week my accountant said we doubled our business and doubled our net profits! God keeps working miracles!"

Let your gift to God this Christmas be the gift of trust.

* * *
God, I commit my financial assets to You knowing that You are my miracle worker!

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:40 P





December 06, 2008

The Power and Impact of One Child

By Robert H. Schuller

"For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." – Isaiah 9:6


A child is born.

A seed. A snowflake. A mosquito. An atom. A baby. All five have something in common. All five, by themselves, are very insignificant. But in each case, their effect can be multiplied to create an unbelievable power and impact.

The snowflake stopped Napoleon in his invasion of Russia. A snowflake defeated him at Waterloo.

The mosquito halted the construction of the Panama Canal.

One seed turned into a fruit tree, which turned into an orchard, which turned into a fruit-bearing, food-serving industry that fed a nation.

The atom, harnessed as a bomb, ended World War II, and probably was responsible, more than anything else, for ushering in the longest era of international peace without a world war, since the Pax Romana.

The seed, the snowflake, the mosquito, the atom – but a Baby born in a manger in Bethlehem surpasses the impact and influence of all.

In less than a month all calendars will observe His birthday. His name? Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I call Him my Friend and Savior.

What will you expect from this Baby, the Christ Child this Christmas? His miracles are abundant as ever. His powerful love still moves mountains.

One seemed small and insignificant until a Child was born. That One became immeasurably significant.

* * *
Lord Jesus, You entered this world with little to no significance. You came as a child, born in a manger. Yet there is no measure on earth that can adequately determine the significance of the life You lived among us, and the life You gave to save us.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:39 P





December 05, 2008

May You Be Filled with Joyful Expectancy

By Robert H. Schuller

"The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ." – Luke 3:15


There were still seven shopping days left before Christmas. As I passed the room of my youngest daughter, Gretchen, I noticed she was sitting on the floor surrounded by envelopes and sheets of clean stationery. On closer inspection, it looked like she was busy writing letters. Now Gretchen never writes letters, so naturally my curiosity was aroused.

"Gretchen," I exclaimed, "what are you doing?" Caught by surprise, she looked up at me with a big smile and said, "Oh, hi, Dad. I'm writing my thank you notes."

"You're what?" I asked.

"I'm starting to write my thank you notes for Christmas now, so you and mom won't have to bother me about it after Christmas," she explained.

A little confused at this point, I continued, "Gretchen, how can you write thank you notes for presents you haven't received? How do you know who to address them to or for what you'll be receiving?"

"Oh," she enthused, "I've got that all figured out. I'm going to say, 'Dear Friend, thank you for your wonderful gift. I'm enjoying it very much. Love, Gretchen."

I laughed at her ingenuity and said, "But Gretchen, how do you know you will enjoy all the gifts?"

"Oh," she countered, "I just know I'm going to."

That's what you call advance planning. But her anticipation produced within her a spirit of joyful expectancy. She was living in the arena of goodness. When you expect good things to happen to you, your attitude will change. Your spirits will soar, your face will beam and you will be filled with joy and enthusiasm.

Positive anticipation produces within us a spirit of joyful expectancy.

* * *
Lord, how challenging it is to wait, and especially to wait with joyful expectancy. Help me to savor each moment of this Christmas season with a sense of childlike wonder and joyful anticipation. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:39 P





December 04, 2008

What's on Your "It's Possible" Christmas List?

By Robert H. Schuller

"Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" – Luke 18:27


If you could have anything you asked for this Christmas what would you ask for?

This is the question our family asked each other as we put up the Christmas lists on the side of the refrigerator. "Write down anything you want…add color and sizes too," Mrs. Schuller and I would tell them. Of course the lists always included outlandish and impossible requests, but it made for lots of fun. One Christmas our son-in-law asked for a new sports car. He described the model and the color. So Mrs. Schuller and I found a toy car identical to his wish. Those Christmas lists are so revealing of each of our family.

What you and I ask of God reveals how much faith we have in God's abundance. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have…" He wants you to be among the haves, not among the have-nots! You can expect more out of life.

Become a possibility thinker today. Make your Christmas list today for God, and add to the end of each sentence…

What you ask God for reveals how much faith in Him you have.

* * *
Father in Heaven…I believe that You are waiting to give good things to those who ask You, so today, in faith, I am asking that You…[fill in your personal request].

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:38 P

December 03, 2008

A Joyous Exclamation!

By Robert H. Schuller

"For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared before the face of all peoples." – Luke 2:30 (NKJV)


W. Clement Stone said, "The greatest power available to man is the power of prayer." These are the words of an extremely successful business man. He had learned there can be no ultimate solutions to any of our problems unless we are in tune with God's Spirit.

God is the Source of all supply. It is God who makes the seed rupture and send its tender shoot through the spring soil, reaching to the sun. And the seed is not content until it produces and multiplies.

God is also the Source of life and abundance in humans. Do you have a problem? Are you lacking anything? If your answer is "yes" to these questions, then look at your problems with new vision, recognizing that all pain, all problems, including poverty, were really not designed by God. Ask yourself, "Is the problem due to disharmony in my own life as it relates to people, to society and to God?" If so, then I urge you to get in tune with God's Spirit through prayer.

Begin by praying, "Dear God, help me to see my blind spot. Open my eyes and my thinking to see Your salvation."

Today's Scripture verse is the joyous exclamation of a devout man, named Simeon, who, through prayer, knew he would see the Christ Child with his own eyes before his death. As he held the Holy Babe in his arms, his joy was complete.

The stream of joy begins at its source…with the Spirit of God in prayer.

* * *
Lord Jesus, as we move into the Christmas season, help me to stay focused on the true meaning of this season. Open my eyes and allow me to take in all the joy You came to bring this world through Jesus – the Christ child.

* * *

MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:37 P





December 02, 2008

Unexpected Encounters

By Robert H. Schuller

"O, give thanks to the Lord, for His goodness…He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness." – Psalm 107:8-9 (NKJV)


One of the great missionaries of our day related to me the story of his conversion: While a student at Columbia University, he went through a long intellectual struggle, first as an agnostic, and then as an atheist.

Finally, while walking the streets of New York one night, he decided that if there is no God then nothing makes any sense. And he reached the point of utter and total despair.

Just then he was passing a church, and in a last desperate effort, he decided to go inside. He was numb throughout the entire service, and when the minister called for a time of prayer at the end, instead of closing his eyes, he just looked around.

And then he spotted his physics professor in the audience, praying with his head bowed. He was shocked! Then thought, My goodness, if my professor believes in God, maybe it's not such a crazy idea after all! When the prayer time was over, he looked at the face of his professor and saw in that unguarded moment an aura and a spirit that was heavenly. It was, to this student, proof of the existence of God.

At that moment he bowed his head and accepted Jesus Christ into his life. The whole direction of his life was changed as a result of an unexpected encounter!

It is the longing soul that finally finds its rest in God alone.

* * *
Heavenly Father, I am giving in to the miracle of the unexpected. You are making my life more beautiful and complete through every experience.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:36 P





December 01, 2008

Look for a Miracle

By Robert H. Schuller

"You have turned my mourning into dancing…and clothed me with gladness…O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever." – Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)


I recall a woman who had recently lost her husband. They had been married for many years and had planned to retire and travel together. They had all their plans made and were looking forward to finally realizing a lifelong dream coming true. But a month after he retired, her husband suddenly died.

All of life seemed to come to an end for this wife. She put a tombstone on her husband's grave inscribed with the words The light of my life has gone out. I am sure many of you know the feelings she experienced.

But with the passage of time and the wise counsel of friends, this woman came alive again. The unexpected and unwelcome interruption lost its sting. Two years later her pastor married her to another wonderful man and watched them as they enthusiastically anticipated building a new life together.

"Pastor," she said, "I'm going to have to change that line on the tombstone."

"No," replied her pastor, "I think all you have to do is add one other line…'I struck another match!'"

When a crisis comes, or when your plans have to be laid aside, then God moves in and turns a tragedy into a triumph and a problem into your greatest opportunity!

For every mountain there is a miracle.

* * *
O Lord, give me the faith to look for a miracle in the unexpected events of today! Amen.

* * *





MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:35 P





November 30, 2008

The Gift of Grace

By Robert H. Schuller

"God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God." – Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)


What's the best gift that faith can deliver to your life? Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God."

The best gift faith delivers is the gift of salvation from sin. It is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that Christ died for your sins on the cross.

It is the serenity of spirit that comes over you when you know God has pardoned you.

It is the mental health you experience when old guilt is gone.

How can you earn this salvation?

You can't. A gift is something you can only accept.

You are pardoned, forgiven, and saved by the grace of God. And what is grace? It is God's love in action for those who don't deserve it. It is a gift that is given when you don't deserve it. It is love you receive before you've earned it. It is credit when it is not justified.

One of the hardest things for a good person to do is to accept something he has not earned. This explains by people so often resist accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ, salvation by the grace of God.

Today make a great leap of faith and embrace God's grace. Accept His understanding and forgiveness. Trust Him not only to cleanse you of sin and negativity, but also to inspire you to treat other persons the same way. You will soon begin to realize that you are forgiven not through the good works you do, but to do good works!

Grace understands that God owes us nothing but gives us everything.

* * *
God, it is only when I acknowledge my lack and need that I see the need for grace in my life. Thank you for offering me the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. I humbly receive it through faith.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
12/25/08 1:34 P





November 23, 2008

The Games

By Robert H. Schuller

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." – 1 Corinthians 9:24


Everywhere in the New Testament world, Greek society left its mark on the culture and religion of the people. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions was that of the Olympic Games.

Held every four years in Greece since its inception, the Olympic Games quickly became world renowned. There was scarcely a city in the Roman Empire where mention of the games did not excite a discussion. Many cities were anxious to host the games. Two cities in Palestine were granted this honor: Dor and Samaria.

During the reign of King Herod in Palestine, he built magnificent accommodations for the games. In Assyria, he constructed a hippodrome larger than the one in Rome, as well as gladiator stadiums and other facilities. In Samaria, Herod built horse racing stadiums and theaters to host plays for visitors attending the games. The ancient historian, Josephus, records that over one-hundred-foot-high marble pillars visible from the seashore were also built in Samaria.

The writers of the New Testament were also influenced by the Greeks and the Olympic Games. The apostle Paul encourages his readers to "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). He urges believers to run in such a way that they may win. Paul compares the Christian lifestyle to the continuous training and preparation for the games.

As Christians, we must bring our thoughts and abilities to their fullest potential by training, exercising, and demonstrating them before God and others. God has given you a unique gift – who you are. And He wants to honor you at the end of your race. But you must train, grow, and run with endurance your life’s race.

There is no prize without sacrifice, no victory without endurance.

* * *
Father, when you called me to the Christian life, You called me to a spectacular race. Help me to run my life’s race in a way that consistently honors You.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 10:04 P





November 29, 2008

God Uses Ordinary People

By Robert H. Schuller

"He told them, 'Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.'" – Mark 16:15 (NLT)


Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. One such man among the first disciples was the evangelist, Philip. When Philip went down to the city of Samaria (Acts 8:5-6), multitudes who heard him speak and saw the miracles he did came to Christ. With great joy, they were baptized, receiving the Holy Spirit. Even a magician named Simon was converted.

It is significant that Philip began his ministry in Samaria, a region where no upstanding Jew from the Jerusalem area was ever seen. God used Philip to cut through cultural and ethnic barriers.

A beautiful example of Philip's ministry is seen where he met an Ethiopian eunuch on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. The eunuch was reading Isaiah 53:7, a passage concerning the Messiah. Philip seized the opportunity, approached the eunuch, and answering his questions, shared with him the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Ethiopian eunuch believed and was baptized. The new convert continued his journey to North Africa, where, tradition tells us, he founded the first Christian church in Ethiopia.

Philip continued his work in the coastal cities of Palestine, finally settling in Caesarea. Here he shared the gospel with many people of diverse cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds.

In the New Testament period, Caesarea was the largest Greco-Roman city on the coast of Palestine. People from all corners of the empire walked through its gates to trade their wares and share news of events elsewhere in the empire.

Philip saw Caesarea as an opportunity to multiply his resources by sharing with as many people as possible. Who knows how many people he was responsible for converting? Only God can count the apples in one seed.

Where can you plant a seed in your world today? What dream has God instilled in you? Multiply your resources – share your faith. Remember: great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination.

God can use any person to achieve great things – anytime, anyway, anyhow.

* * *
I've been tempted to think, Lord, that it takes someone extraordinary to accomplish great things for You. Thank You for reminding me through the life of Philip that You specialize in using ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things for You.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 10:03 P





November 28, 2008

The Gift of Encouragement

By Robert H. Schuller

"Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace." – 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)


Often we read the names of characters in Scripture one time and then never hear from them again. One of these names is Barnabas.

Barnabas means "son of encouragement." We are introduced to him in the Book of Acts, first as a supporter of the church (Acts 4:36-37) and later as a defender of the newly converted Paul (9:27) after Paul’s reputation hindered his acceptance by the apostles.

When Barnabas was finished with this task, the Jerusalem church desperately needed someone to take control of the young church in Antioch, Syria. They were looking for someone strong, steady, and firm who could be an encouragement to build up the people in their newfound faith.

The church in Antioch was surrounded with all sorts of mystery religions. It was easy for the new Christians to be persuaded to let false doctrines infiltrate the church. So the Jerusalem church turned to someone they could count on. Barnabas was active in the leadership of the church in Antioch.

Barnabas may have spent many years there, during which time he may have discipled John Mark, the apostle who wrote the Gospel of Mark, although the Bible does not directly record any of this information. We have to rely on indirect references in the Bible, as well as extra-biblical literature to surmise what Barnabas’s life was like.

But from all that is recorded of him in Scripture, it is evident that Barnabas was one of those people who did not care who got all the credit, as long as he was serving God with his talents, gifts, and abilities.

God can do wonderful things through someone who does not really care who gets the credit. Perhaps God has given you the gift of encouragement. Be that special person of encouragement to someone in your life. First Corinthians 14:12 says to "let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel" with whatever spiritual gift you have. You may not be recognized by everyone, but remember, God sees your good works and He rewards you!

Hope burns bright where a spark of encouragement lights the flame.

* * *
Loving Father, how often You have brought someone into my life to encourage me when I lacked faith or confidence. What a gift! Use me to give the gift of encouragement to someone else today.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 10:01 P





November 26, 2008

Respect Those Around You

By Robert H. Schuller

"Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work." – 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (NLT)


Wow! Talk about a challenge. Is it possible to know and respect all people? That would take a mountain of faith!

Is it possible to honor crude and cruel persons who destroy life and love? Yes. We do not condone their behavior, but we recognize that they are still souls for whom Christ died on the cross. And we can still pause to pray, "God have mercy on their souls."

On a far more practical level, the challenge you and I have is to respect the people with whom we live, work, and closely relate. Can we respect them after we've seen them at their worst? Can we honor them as beautiful human beings even after their weaknesses have been grossly exposed? The answer must be a resounding YES. Consider how Jesus restored Peter to service even after this disciple had denied his Lord and Master three times (see John 21:15-19).

How can our faith perform this miracle? Quite simply – our faith reminds us that we, too, are imperfect human beings. Our faith reminds us that God loves us even though He knows us better than anybody else! And if God loves in spite of what we are, He will give us the grace to pass that charitable spirit along!

"Respect is what we owe; love, what we give." – Phillip J. Bailey, English Poet

* * *
Thank You, Heavenly Father, for honoring me even after I have disappointed You, for treating me like a noble person even after I have been guilty of disgraceful behavior in Your sight. Help me to treat my fellow human beings with no less respect than You have shown me. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 10:00 P





November 27, 2008

Return to Give Thanks

By Robert H. Schuller

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name." – Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)


Leprosy was a dreaded and deadly disease in the Middle East during the time of Christ. According to Jewish Levitical law, lepers were to live in isolation outside the city, and they were not to come in contact with any "clean" person. Theirs was a life of uncleanness, having contact only with each other.

It was one such group that Jesus came upon when traveling through the area of Perea on His way to Jerusalem. Their cries for help did not go unheard. Having compassion on them, Jesus healed the lepers of their disease. He told them to go before the Levitical priests to show themselves as clean. This practice of the Levitical law was the leper's one hope, to return and live a normal life in society.

In faith, the lepers journeyed to the priests. As they began their travel, the disease left them. They went before the priests who confirmed they were well. Of the ten lepers that Jesus healed, only one took the time and energy to return to find and thank Jesus for what He had done.

In the same manner, Jesus heals us of our emotional, spiritual, and physical diseases. Yet how often do we return to thank Him? We must, like the one leper, return to give thanks. It is easy to cry out to God when we are in pain. But when we are surrounded with prosperity, may be also acknowledge Him for His gifts. The one leper who returned was a Samaritan – the least likely to come back to Jesus. But despite the cultural barriers between the Jews and Samaritans, the leper did return.

Let us not be held back by anything, but let us always make the effort to have a grateful heart before our Lord.

For Christians, thanksgiving is not just a day of the year but a way of life.

* * *
Thank You, God, for this season – a chance to remember, once again, all You have done for us. When we meet with family and friends in joyful celebration, may we look at what we have, not at what we've lost. Bless our festivities with Your Presence, as we remember Your goodness in our lives.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:59 P





November 25, 2008

Where Faith and Failure Meet

By Robert H. Schuller

"I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible." – 1 Corinthians 7:35 (NLT)


Faith often meets success at the point of failure. For example, the pole vaulter who runs and then vaults over the bar a little higher each time never really knows how high he can jump until he fails to scale the bar. He succeeds when he fails!

Failure isn't a matter of not reaching your goal! Failure is failing to give your project all that you have.

Success is achieving the maximum of your potential in the situation you are in. The apostle Paul encouraged his readers to "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). When you honestly have attempted your ultimate best, then you have been successful, in spite of failure. The people who are really failures are the people who set their standards so low, keep the bar at such a safe level, that they never run the risk of failure.

Faith is daring to face an embarrassing failure. It's only after the pole vaulter knocks down the bar raised to its highest level that he knows he's jumped as high as he can – today!

Success comes at the point where you can't do any better than you are doing at this moment. The applause doesn't come until you've given all you have to give. Spectators love the winners and they love the losers, as long as both give it their best!

Whenever you give your ultimate best you move from failure to success.

* * *
Thank You for giving me a boost today by reminding me that I am not a failure. I am succeeding because I am doing my best. Thank You for having confidence in me. I will keep on keeping on with Your help.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:58 P





November 24, 2008

Washing the Windows of Your Soul

By Robert H. Schuller

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." – 2 Corinthians 3:18


If you tune in to positive thoughts and censor out negative ones, will these dynamic exercises of a daily, disciplined faith keep the windows of your soul sparkling at all times? Not completely. Accidents can dent a new car, spills can stain clean clothes, upsets and frustrate a patient person, and thoughtless interruptions can disturb quiet meditation.

In Holland, Dutch people wash their windows every morning, even if there is no dirt on them, no rainfall to stain the glass, no heavy dew to dry and leave a misty film.

Faith is washing the windows of your soul, every morning beginning the new day bright with God's love, and each night washing away the film of negativity.

Have you ever noticed how quickly windows that were once clean can lose their sparkle? A film comes over them and clouds the reflection of the sun.

Is the sparkle of faith gone from the window panes of your soul? Is the reflection of God’s love clouded in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to come in each morning and evening to wash the windows of your soul. Remember, the Spirit of God lives in you to brighten your life with love and faith!

The positive love of God in your life can peek through any cloud of negativity.

* * *
Lord, make my life a window for Your light to shine through, a mirror to reflect Your love to everyone I meet. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:57 P





November 22, 2008

The Vineyard and the Vinedresser

By Robert H. Schuller

"Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions." – Matthew 7:20 (NLT)


When the biblical vinedresser prepared to plant his field, he found a use for everything. First he cleared the rocky Judean soil of stones and thistles. The stones he cleared were built into a watchtower and protective wall enclosing the field. The thorns were then placed on top of the wall, serving as a natural barbed wire to keep wild animals out.

Today the vineyards in Palestine are unlike those seen growing on trellises above the ground. Instead, the vines grow along the surface of the earth. In the warm spring and early summer months, the vine cannot depend on rainfall for its water. In the early morning hours there is enough moisture available from the night's dew to water the plants. However, once the sun rises high overhead, the ground quickly cracks and dries before the water has soaked in.

To ensure that the vine has sufficient water, the vinedresser will lift up the vine and support it with a rock. In doing do, the vinedresser allows the morning moisture to seep into the ground under the vine. The plant then shades the earth from the sun enabling the water to completely soak in. Some of the branches are naturally arched and allow this process without the support of rocks. Others are heavy and must be cut back to prevent the branches from crushing the fruit. Jesus illustrates this process in John 15 where He says, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch to Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that is may bear more fruit" (John 15:1-2).

The Greek word translated "takes away" refers to the death of an unfruitful believer or the eventual judgment of his labors (v. 6). This Greek word can also be translated "lifts ups," which would then indicate the vinedresser's activities. This correlates perfectly with the ministry that Jesus has as He builds us up until we are able to bear fruit as vital Christians.

Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. When we, for whatever reason, do not have the strength, knowledge, or maturity to bear fruit, He lifts us up. He supports us so we can bear fruit. And when we are heavy with this fruit, He prunes us of the things that would weigh us down in life so we can bear more fruit. What is this fruit? Jesus explains at the end of His parable. "Go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain….These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:16-17).

It is impossible to be united to Christ and not manifest His own characteristic love.

* * *
Lord Jesus, You give us these wonderful pictures in Your word to show us the kind of intimate relationship You want to have with us. My desire is to stay connected to You, to grow and mature and bear spiritual fruit in my life. Cut away those things that weigh me down. Reveal and support me in the areas where I need to grow. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:56 P





November 21, 2008

The Prodigal Son

By Robert H. Schuller

"O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for Your help." – Psalm 86:5 (NLT)


Throughout Jesus' earthly ministry, He occasionally drew from Jewish culture to illustrate His truths. Perhaps one of His most familiar stories is that of the Prodigal Son. Similar parables were also used by the rabbis of His day, but Jesus gave them fresh new meanings.

The story of the Prodigal Son focuses on an average young man from a small village in the Jordan River valley. This town is in Perea, a sparsely populated Jewish area south of Galilee on the road to Jerusalem. His father is a wealthy landowner whose many servants care for his fields and flocks of his land.

Like any other boy his age, the son dreams of his future and autonomy. He may have looked dreamily into the mountains surrounding his village in the Gentile Decapolis, known for its Greek temples, art, games, and literature. It is considered the “far-off land,” reflecting not its geographical distance, but its cultural distance from the religious beliefs of the Jewish population.

One day, consumed by wanderlust, the young boy leaves behind his family and makes haste for this pagan country. Here the story tells that he "wasted his possessions with prodigal living" (Luke 15:13). At this time, a great famine sweeps over the land, bringing severe hardship to the mountainous Decapolis region. The Perean area is not affected, however, for it is located seven hundred feet below sea level. Its several underground springs keep the land fertile and alive. The young boy, now moneyless and hungry, persuades a local farmer to let him care for his hogs. Upon realizing that the hogs he feeds have a better life than he does, the boy decides to return home with hopes of being hired as a servant on his father's farm (see Luke 15:15-19).

Here the rabbinical teaching explains that once someone leaves his faith and indulges in the culture and religion of the Greek cities, he is considered dead. The father cannot forgive his son for his wanderings and sins in the Gentile land. The boy is cut off from his family, friends, and religion forever.

Jesus, however, gives this story a new ending. The boy receives forgiveness from his father, who celebrates his homecoming by killing a fatted calf and throwing a feast. No longer is man cut off from God. Instead, there is much rejoicing. Man is forgiven because of the Father's great love. 1 John 3:1 tells us, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God."

You are never too far away or too far gone to come back to the Father's love.

* * *
Lord Jesus, I've been going the wrong direction. Today I choose to turn and go the other direction – back toward You. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness. Give me inner strength and resolve – the kind that leads to life change. Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:55 P





November 20, 2008

The Lost Coin

By Robert H. Schuller

"There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!" – Luke 15:10 (NLT)


In Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells a story about a woman who has ten silver coins. She loses one of them. In an effort to find this one coin, the woman lights a lamp, sweeps the house, and searches carefully until she finds it. When she does, she calls her friends and neighbors and asks them to celebrate with her. Jesus concludes with this observation, "Likewise…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

The ancient dress of Palestinian women helps illuminate this parable of Jesus. The coin for which the woman searched so diligently held immense value for her – not simply because of monetary worth, but because it was probably the type of coin attached to the headdress of the woman's dowry. Even today Bedouin women in Palestine wear ten, fifty, even one hundred coins attached to the scarves that cover their heads. The coin this woman lost had special sentimental value to her.

By lighting a lamp and sweeping her floor, the woman did everything she could to help locate the lost coin. Perhaps a shimmer of light bouncing off the coin helped her detect it. Maybe the tinkling sound made by the coin as the broom loosened it from its lodging place between the basaltic stone cracks revealed its location.

Like the woman who searched for her coin, we can be assured that we are special to God. Like the one lost coin, we hold unique worth to our Father, for we are His valued possession, giving glory to Him. We can have the confidence that He will light our way, look for us, and when He finds us, pick us up and rejoice.

Recovering a lost sinner takes diligent effort. But the effort is worth it when the lost is found.

* * *
Like the lost coin of the Palestinian woman, we have unique value and worth to You, Father. May we live a life that reflects how You see us. Thank You for searching for us when we disconnect from You and get lost. Your love is unending.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:54 P





November 19, 2008

The Good Samaritan

By Robert H. Schuller

"What good is it dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?"– Matthew 25:40 (NLT)


During New Testament times, there was a great division between the Jewish populace and their neighbors, the Samaritans. Their disagreements centered around a religious point. The Samaritans believed the true place of worship was in Samaria on Mount Gerizim; the Jews held that the temple at Jerusalem was the rightful place.

The Jews disliked the Samaritans so much that they chose not to go near their towns. Even when they traveled to Galilee, they avoided the direct route through Samaria and took the longer, more arduous trip through the wilderness, through Jericho, and up the desert Rift Valley.

This road, from Jerusalem to Jericho, was known as Maale Addumin, meaning, "the ascent of blood." For here thieves and robbers often attacked the travelers.

It was along this road that Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man was traveling this route when thieves jumped him, beat him, and left him for dead. Shortly thereafter, a Levitical priest traveled by, but upon seeing the man, crossed the road and left him. Soon after, another Jewish man passed by and also offered no assistance. Finally, a Samaritan, who normally did not journey on this road, came upon the beaten man. Not only did he stop, but he carried the Jew to an inn where he paid two days' wages to insure the man's rest and recovery.

Jesus commended the Samaritan for truly having love for his neighbor. Despite his religious, cultural, and ethnic differences, the Samaritan reached out to meet the needs of the Jew.

In the same manner, we must look out for the needs of those around us. We can put away our prejudices and sacrifice our time, money, and energy to help heal the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of both our neighbors and strangers. Matthew 25:34-40 says Jesus will honor those who feed and clothe a stranger because they are in need. As you serve others, you're serving Jesus Himself.

Your love for those in need is proof of your love for God.

* * *
Lord, I am ashamed to admit how little like the Samaritan I am at times. Help me to see the needs of people around me and then reach out and care for them as I see their needs.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:53 P





November 18, 2008

The Widow's Mite

By Robert H. Schuller

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over." – Luke 6:38A (NKJV)


The temple area was crowded and noisy as usual. Richly robed merchants deposited large amounts of money in the temple treasury box on the grand staircase. One woman, clothed in black, dropped two mites for her offering, pausing for a quiet prayer.

Jesus observed the scene, and said to the crowd, "This poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had, her whole livelihood" (Mark 12: 43-44).

The Bible labels the woman a widow. In ancient times, widows had little or no means of income. They were dependent on the gifts of relatives or friends. In this case, Jesus reveals that she gave all she had to live on.

The widow gave two "mites" – the smallest denomination in circulation. A Greek copper coin, the mite is worth a mere fraction of a penny. Two mites would not even equal one cent. Yet Jesus commended this woman for the large amount she gave.

The story of the widow's mite is a beautiful illustration of right-spirited giving. While other merchants gave large amounts of their wealth, their offering was for recognition and the praise of onlookers. The widow, however, displayed a heart of gratitude to God, despite the loss of her husband and lack of financial security. She could still trust God for her basic needs, thereby enabling her to give out of her need.

We can learn much from the poor widow who gave all she had to live on. Let us, with equal gratitude, give to God the talents, time, energy, and financial resources we have to live on. And then with trust and confidence watch as God uses and works through whatever we give to Him.

It's not how much you give that matters, but the spirit with which it is given.

* * *
God, without faith it is impossible to please You. And never is this more true than when it comes to money. Create in me, O God, a heart that trusts You so completely that it consistently responds in generosity.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/29/08 9:52 P





November 17, 2008

The Lost Sheep

By Robert H. Schuller

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." – Luke 19:10


The Gospel of Luke records that the Pharisees were adamantly opposed to Jesus eating with tax gatherers and other "immoral" people, and they murmured when He associated with unrighteous men and women (Luke 15:2). Jesus responded to their grumblings: "A man had one hundred sheep, but upon counting them discovered there were only ninety-nine. One was missing. Immediately the man went in search of the lost sheep." It was an almost daily occurrence in a shepherd's life to look for a sheep that had strayed from the flock. Jesus used this story to illustrate God's love for each one of his children.

Today, in the Judean wilderness, a shepherd will appoint other shepherds to watch his flock while he goes to find a lost sheep. In the twisted folds and narrow canyon gullies of the wilderness, it is easy for a sheep to stray into the open mouth of a cave or wander aimlessly down an adjacent riverbed. The shepherd will search and call out for the lost sheep, sometimes throwing stones at the mouths of caves to scare a sheep out of hiding.

Once a shepherd has found his sheep, he will place the lamb on his shoulder, grabbing its feet with one hand, while keeping his other hand free to hold his staff and defend himself against attacking animals. The shepherd can often be heard singing, rejoicing that the sheep that was lost has been found.

Jesus' answer to the Pharisees reveals that God is constantly guarding and caring for His sheep. He, especially, goes to great effort to find those who have gone astray from His flock. God sent Jesus Christ into the world specifically to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

In our lives, let us look to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, keeping our eyes on Him and heeding His call. When we go astray, we can be confident that He will come and search for us. He will find us, lift us up on His shoulders and bring us safely home. Then there will be much rejoicing – for the sheep that was lost is now found!

Only sheep that know they're lost recognize their need for a shepherd.

* * *
Lord Jesus, You came into this world to look for lost souls and Your intent has always been to save them. Thank You for finding me. For rescuing me from the destructive nature of sin. And for safely returning me to Your flock. You are my Good Shepherd.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:08 P





November 16, 2008

The Mustard Seed

By Robert H. Schuller

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." – 1 Corinthians 3:6


Mustard trees grow in abundance beside the Sea of Galilee and in the southern hill country of Judea on the Mount of Olives. These trees are not individually planted by local farmers, but by birds and the wind carrying their seeds and scattering them about. Once rooted, the trees grow to a height of eight to twelve feet. In the springtime, these colorful yellow plants are found with birds nesting among their branches.

Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is like both the tiny mustard seed and the full-grown mustard tree. Small or large, God's providential care is there for its growth. To Jesus' listeners, the mustard seed symbolized something small and apparently lifeless. Yet they knew when it was sown, it would spring to life as a full, growing tree. In another parable, Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24). Paul also drew from this teaching when he said about our bodies, "This mortal has put on immortality" (1 Cor. 15:54). So, then, a seed and the death of the seed brings forth life and renewed faith.

Out of the tiniest of possibilities, God will raise and establish His kingdom. Out of our little beginnings He will reap a full harvest. Whether you have a great task or a small responsibility, do it joyfully, for out of your endeavors God will raise bountiful blessings.

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed!

* * *
O God, You take little beginnings and from them produce bountiful blessings. Help me to remember that I am only the sower; You alone can produce a fruitful harvest.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:07 P





November 13, 2008

Never Look Back

By Robert H. Schuller

"Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" – Luke 9:62


In teaching total commitment, Jesus used an illustration familiar to all His listeners. "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). During the planting season in the Middle East, farmers can be seen plowing their fields throughout the land. Plowing in biblical Palestine took a tremendous amount of effort. The light, wooden plow pulled by oxen or donkeys, required the worker to direct all his strength and attention to the task of plowing straight furrows. Among the laborers, it was totally unacceptable to look back after "putting his hand to the plow." In fact, in many parts of the Middle East while traveling or working, to look back is thought to bring the ultimate misfortune upon oneself.

If the farmer plows unevenly and looks back, it only results in an even more crooked furrow. If he looks back at all, his weight is taken off the plow, prohibiting him from making an even furrow in the earth.

Jesus calls us to focus all of our attention and strength on serving God and His kingdom. Jesus encourages us to look forward, not back toward our past mistakes. The apostle Paul also exemplifies this attitude when he says, "Forgetting those things which are behind…I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Put your hand to the plow today and never look back. Then you will truly be fit for the kingdom of God. You can say with certainty, "I have locked the door on yesterday and have thrown the key away; tomorrow has no fears for me since I have found today!"

Decide to become a follower of Jesus Christ and you'll put a WOW in your tomorrows!

* * *
O God, I am Yours. You are my leader. I choose to follow You so I can have a WOW in my tomorrows. I want to make a difference! Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:05 P





November 12, 2008

Let Down Your Nets

By Robert H. Schuller

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." – 1 Peter 5:7


Working as a fisherman in Jesus' day was a hard, toilsome occupation. Most of the fishing was done at night near the shores, usually by dragging a net between two boats in hopes of catching fish. Fishing was done close to shore where the fish hid under the many rocks and boulders. It was not uncommon to fish throughout the night, only to return home with nothing.

One morning, Peter and his brother, Andrew, and their partners, James and John, were mending their nets by the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus asked Peter to launch out into the deep water and let down his nets for a catch. Peter responded, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5).

Jesus was asking Peter to fish in broad daylight, at a carpenter's direction. Peter and Andrew went out into the deep water in one boat, dragging a net over the side in the middle of the day. It was a step of obedience and faith that Jesus rewarded. "When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink" (Luke 5:6-7).

Jesus wanted to unlock Peter's limited thinking to understand what faith in God could do. Jesus wants us, like Peter, to realize that when we think we have exhausted all possibilities, we haven't.

We may have toiled in the usual manner for days, months, or even years. But God calls us to cast our nets one more time, to try again when we have run out of hope, to believe in His ability, not our own. Then when we have done the uncommon, in obedience through faith, God will reward us. And our nets will overflow!

When you’ve run out of hope and you’ve run out of ability, trust God to do the extraordinary.

* * *
Dear Heavenly Father, You ask me to try again when I've run out of hope and when my faith is weak. Today I choose to exercise uncommon courage, to cast my cares on You and follow Your lead, and to trust You for an extraordinary outcome.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:04 P





November 11, 2008

The Other Side

By Robert H. Schuller

"Then Peter said, 'See, we have left all and followed You.'" – Luke 18:28 (NKJV)


A major portion of Jesus' ministry took place around the shores of the Sea of Galilee, an area widely influenced by Roman and Greek civilizations. This influence was primarily felt on the eastern shores of the sea where the cities were separated culturally, religiously and geographically from the Jewish cities of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, located on the lake's western shores. According to Matthew, Jesus concentrated His teachings and miracles in these Jewish towns.. This area was known by the Jewish population as "our side."

On occasion Jesus traveled to "the other side" to teach the people. This phrase refers not only to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, but more culturally and religiously to the Gentile region. "The other side" was a specific reference given by the Jewish villagers to the Greek and Roman centers located on the other side of the lake, including the cities of Hippus, Gergesa, and Gadara.

According to the Gospels, thousands of people followed Jesus to the other side. This was no easy task for the Jews. Whether they journeyed by boat or land, Rome levied heavy sea and land taxes to finance their wars in Europe. Travel to the predominantly Gentile region was greatly discouraged by the religious community. Once there, the food of the Gentiles was uneatable under the Jewish dietary laws. Those who traveled with young families found the ten- to twenty-mile journey even more difficult.

Despite the physical, cultural and religious obstacles of travel to "the other side," the Bible records that on two occasions there were crowds of four thousand and five thousand people to hear Jesus. We know that these were mostly Jewish villagers who had traveled a long distance to hear Jesus. Since there were many Gentile towns nearby, their complaints about having nothing to eat can be interpreted that there was no food available for the Jewish diet. The Gospels say that Jesus, out of compassion, provided fish and bread for the hungry multitudes.

Sometimes people may ridicule us, often it will take time out of our busy schedules, and it will certainly run contrary to the status quo for us to follow Jesus. Yet the reward for doing so remains the same: "He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing…So they all ate and were filled" (Luke 9:11, 17). Jesus filled their spiritual and material needs.

The rewards of following Christ are always greater than the sum of its costs.

* * *
Sometimes, Lord, You ask me to follow You to "the other side"—to places that demand more devotion, more commitment, more humility in my life. I pray for the grace and strength to always follow You, no matter what the cost. With You, all things are possible.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:03 P





November 10, 2008

Choose the Positive Perspective

By Robert H. Schuller

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." – Hebrews 12:2


On the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee, towering cliffs stretch down to the lake. In the face of these sea-salted cliffs are many honeycombed caves. In one such cave lived a demon-possessed man who for many years prevented travelers from passing along the road that ran from the cliffs to the sea. The Bible tells us he harassed them and frightened them. Each time the demoniac was put in chains, he broke free. He was one of the most feared men of the region.

During one of Jesus' trips to the cliffs near the eastern shore of the lake, He entered the area of Gadara, a Gentile region known for its pig farms. Upon seeing Jesus, the demon-possessed man asked Jesus to leave him alone. Seeing the man's great need, Jesus commanded the demons to leave him, and Jesus asked, "What is your name?" The demons inside the man answered, "My name is Legion; for we are many" (Mark 5:9). Immediately, Jesus commanded the demons to leave the man and to go into the 2,000 pigs feeding nearby. The demons entered the swine that ran down the steep cliff and into the sea. Normally pigs swim well, but in this case they drowned.

The people from the region of Gadara had two choices in how they responded to Jesus' miracle: to be excited that Jesus healed the man; or to be deeply disturbed that Jesus destroyed their main source of income. Witnesses ran into the city and told the townspeople what had happened. When the residents of Gadara saw the healed man and that the pigs were no longer grazing on the hillside, they were afraid and asked Jesus to leave because He had destroyed their major industry.

The people chose to look at what they had lost, not at what Jesus had given them. They did not see the value of a restored human being; all they saw was the loss of their livelihood. They did not understand that the God who healed the demon-possessed man could have provided all of their needs if they only asked.

In every situation in our lives we have the opportunity to choose the positive perspective. Choose to look at what Jesus has given you. In all aspects of life, look at what you have been given rather than at what you've temporarily lost! Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.

It's where you choose to fix your eyes that makes all the difference in your perspective.

* * *
O God, in every situation of life I ask that You would help me to choose the positive perspective over the negative one—to put my hope in You as the author and finisher of my faith. Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:02 P





November 09, 2008

Stilling the Storm

By Robert H. Schuller

"He stirs up the sea with His power, and by His understanding He breaks up the storm." – Job 26:12 (NKJV)


The Sea of Galilee is only twelve miles long, seven miles wide and seven hundred feet deep. Yet over these waters come some of the most ferocious, vicious storms in the Middle East.

The Sea of Galilee is located scarcely fifty miles from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. To the northeast rise the Syro-Phoenician mountains of Lebanon. When a low pressure system comes off the Mediterranean and clashes with a high pressure system from these mountains, the calm surface of the Sea of Galilee can be suddenly transformed into a raging storm with waves fifteen to twenty feet high.

There is constant danger for fishermen caught on the lake in the springtime and early fall, when the storms most frequently occur. During these seasons, the weather may be perfect when the fishermen leave shore, but within minutes the sky becomes overcast and large swells mount to toss their boats about.

Mark 4:36-41 records just such a day when Jesus and His disciples had gone out on the sea. "A great windstorm arose, and waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling" (v. 37). Jesus, who had been asleep, now rose, and standing in the middle of the boat, rebuked the storm saying, "Peace, be still" (v. 39)! Immediately the storm subsided. The disciples wondered among themselves, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him" (v. 41).

There are times in our lives when everything seems to be calm. But like one of the sudden storms on the Sea of Galilee, problems can suddenly arise, transforming our lives into a raging storm of stress and difficulty. Without someone to turn to, these problems seem overwhelming. Yet with faith in God, we rest assured that the voice of Jesus and the presence of God will still any storm of problems with a word: "Peace, be still!"

"Better to go through the storm with Christ than to have smooth sailing without Him." – Vernon Grounds

* * *
Lord, You still the raging storms in my life through Your presence and offer peace and calm when stress and trouble threaten to overwhelm me. In faith I rest assured of Your protection and deliverance. Thank You.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:01 P





November 08, 2008

A House Built on Rock

By Robert H. Schuller

"And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." – 1 Corinthians 10:4 (NKJV)


On the slopes above the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee sat the ancient Jewish village of Chorazin. Matthew records that in this town many of Jesus' miracles took place (see Matthew 11:21). This village was also the origin of one of Jesus' most familiar teachings – the parable of two houses. Archaeologists have discovered first- and second-century remnants of the town which indicate that the village was built on the rocky slopes of the hill and in the adjacent water bed below.

In this region a major mountain range running east to west caught most of the country's rainfall during the winter months of January and February. As much as thirty-seven inches of rain falls in a two-month span. The high amount of rainfall causes flash floods in several watershed systems, including the Wadi Ammud, where Chorazin is located. These wadis naturally drained mountain water to the lake below.

Even today, it is common to see a ten-foot wall of water burst suddenly upon the plains surrounding the lake. Jesus vividly described the sudden floods that often roared without warning from the mountains. "Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matthew 7:24-27).

Many structures of ancient houses from Jesus' day still stand on rocks high above. But in the sandy wadi below, only rubble remains, bearing witness to the homes crushed by sudden, calamitous downpours.

What is the foundation of your life? Set it high and firm on the rock of Jesus by hearing and doing what He says. Build your life on Him. When the winds and rains of life's problems suddenly descend on you, you will not fall – for you are founded on the rock.

Built on the Solid Rock, your life can weather any storm.

* * *
Thank You, Lord for being the Solid Rock on which the foundation of my life is laid. I can weather any storm of life with assurance as I firmly place my trust in You.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 4:00 P





November 07, 2008

You Are the Light of the World

By Robert H. Schuller

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." – Matthew 5:16


"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14).

Jesus spoke these words to His followers while overlooking the beautiful Sea of Galilee. Surrounded on all sides by high mountains, the lake is twelve miles long and seven miles wide. Nestled between these hills and the lake were many Jewish towns from which villagers came to hear Jesus.

Every evening the Jewish people had a constant reminder of the oppression of their Roman overlords. At sundown, the mighty Roman legions lit bonfires at their hilltop command post as they guarded and maintained the famous thoroughfares, the Via Maris, and the King's Highway. In the first century as many as twelve to fourteen legions, each consisting of six thousand men, were stationed in Galilee. Their fires were a spectacular sight from anywhere on the lake.

Jesus' illustration dramatically punctuated His teaching on the kingdom of God. His call to be a "light – a city that is set on a hill" was a challenge to His listeners. Archaeologists have discovered that as many as ninety Greco-Roman towns were set on the eastern hills. The lights from the town lamps burned brightly above the sea below. The faith of Jesus' listeners was to be as visible and bright to the people around them as were the lights from the towns and camps that lit up the evening sky.

Jesus' call is as alive today as it was when the bonfires encircled the Sea of Galilee. Your life will burn with enthusiasm and joy when you announce and advance the kingdom of God. It may begin with lighting one candle by touching one person in your world today. But soon the fire will spread. Your life will be a mighty roaring bonfire encircling your world with the warmth of God's love!

Light one candle, touch one life today.

* * *
Good morning, Lord! Your light is bright. Your love is warm. Your hope is vital. May your light, love and hope flow through my life to others today. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:58 P





November 06, 2008

Announce Your Intentions

By Robert H. Schuller

"But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands." – Isaiah 32:8


The walk of faith is a progressive walk that leads us up the steps of faith in action.

Faith takes the first step by dreaming. It climbs higher through drawing mental pictures, and it takes a giant step upward through the public announcement of your goals!

This is one of the most frightening steps that you can take in the walk of faith. As long as you keep your mental picture to yourself and secretly harbor your unspoken desires, then the dreaming is relatively safe. But once you open your mouth and tell the world what you intend to do, then you place your reputation as a believable person on the line. Now you must either produce or be proven unreliable at best and a phony at worst.

Many biblical heroes and prophets faced ridicule – even condemnation – when announcing God's plan. Noah, Joshua, Jesus – their public announcements of faith were the first step in obeying and realizing God's unique plan for their lives. The public declaration of commitment intensifies the risk. You can immediately expect opposition and criticism to come out of the woodwork. Negative thinks will leap forward – "It can't be done," "It won’t work," "Somebody else tried it and failed." Or they'll attack your motives.

But rest assured of this: Just as criticism and opposition will come, so support will come from unknown and unexpected sources. The power of a positive idea is greater than the power of a negative thought. Ask God for His strength.

The power of a positive idea is greater than the power of a negative thought.

* * *
Lord God, when criticism and opposition come after publicly announcing my intentions, help me to stand firm in my resolve to pursue those plans and ideas You've called me to.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:58 P





November 05, 2008

A Picture of Possibilities

By Robert H. Schuller

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." – Ephesians 3:20


If I asked you to draw a picture, how would you go about it? You'd probably reach for a blank piece of paper and some pencils or crayons. Or you’d reach for a canvas, with oil paints and brushes.

I am no artist, but I can teach you how to draw pictures in the mind. Your mind is the canvas. Your willpower is the brush. Your thoughts are the oils and colors. Within your mind is an incredible assortment of colors; every idea is a potential color! Begin to "see" ideas in "color." Ideas that are happy can be colored yellow. Depressing thoughts? Color them blue. Angry thoughts? Color them red. Loving thoughts? Color them bright pink. Growth ideas? Color them green.

Today choose to become an artist with ideas. No training is necessary. God gives gifts of imagination – your thoughts. Now use your creativity to draw the mental image of the dream accomplished. See the finished project in your mind.

It may be helpful to you to actually take out a blank piece of paper and draw a picture of what you want to accomplish. Sketches on paper plant images in the mind. The subconscious, like a roll of undeveloped film, picks up the image and the picture is drawn. And at this very moment faith moves into a motivational phase. Energy and enthusiasm begin to be released.

There are pictures of possibilities in your mind. Draw them out idea by idea, color by color.

* * *
O God, give me a mental picture of the person you want me to be, the project you want me to pursue, the objectives you want me to manage toward completion. Open my mind like a canvas to the Holy Spirit. Paint a picture of possibilities within my imagination. Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:57 P





November 04, 2008

The Olive Tree

By Robert H. Schuller

"The Lord called you a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form." – Jeremiah 11:16


The ancient olive tree holds an intrinsic beauty to the biblical writer. Its knotted, twisted trunk has dominated the landscape of Israel for thousands of years.

Unlike the country's tall cedars, straight cypresses, and fragrant fruit trees, the beauty of the olive tree is expressed more through function than through outward appearance. To the western mindset, the tree's form might seem unattractive. Yet, in Hebrew thought, the very nature of the olive tree is lovely.

Throughout the ages, prophets focused on the olive tree to illustrate inner beauty. The tree's value is measured by its service. The delicate olive oil held a prize role in anointing the many kings of the land. For the common person, the oil was needed to fuel their lamps and light their way. Even today, olives and olive oil are staples of the Middle Eastern diet.

The olive branch has long been a symbol of peace and goodwill. Following the great flood, Noah's dove carried an olive twig back to the ark as a sign of God's peace and promise that the waters had receded.

For strength and endurance the olive tree is unsurpassed. Even in the most inhospitable chalky soil of the Judean wilderness, the olive tree is found. Cut back to its roots, the tree will grow back and live thousands of years.

Should we not look at ourselves as the people of Israel look at the olive tree? Like the olive tree, our self-worth is also expressed in service.

Be like an olive tree. Anoint those around you with love. Help light the way. Be a symbol of God's peace. And when people cut you down – grow back.



* * *
Help me to be like an olive tree today, Lord. To be a person of peace and goodwill, to demonstrate strength and endurance in even the most inhospitable of circumstances and to light the way for other to You.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:56 P





November 03, 2008

You Are the Salt of the Earth

By Robert H. Schuller

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." – Colossians 4:6


Jesus often used everyday life experiences when teaching about the kingdom of God. He turned common objects into parables – tools to inspire Christian faith. On one such occasion, Jesus used the compound of ordinary salt, saying, "You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13).

Salt symbolized many things to the biblical person. Of course, it flavored food as it does today. Yet it was also considered to be pure, part of an acceptable sacrificial offering to God (Ezekiel 43:24). And salt was important as a food preservative.

Perhaps Jesus was bringing to His listeners' minds the village of Tarachia, which was in view from where He spoke. This small town's main industry was curing and salting fish. In fact, the town's name means "Salted Fish." Fish, salted and cured there, was a well-known commodity shipped throughout the Roman Empire.

Due to the low elevation of Tarachia in Galilee, 700 feet below sea level, temperatures often exceeded 100 degrees with 80 to 90 percent humidity in the summer. Food spoiled quickly, and the fish they harvested had to be cured and salted immediately.

"You are the salt of the earth." To Jesus' listeners, this was an important image. Like the salt of the biblical world, they, too, were in a preserving position in their community. When we share the love of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul reminds us in Colossians 4:6 to let our speech be "with grace, seasoned with salt," that it may bless the lives of other people with a positive flavor and spirit. We should share God's covenant of peace and forgiveness with the world. Like salt, may our lives be a pure and acceptable offering of service to our God.

Choose your words carefully, season them with grace, or what you say will spoil everything.

* * *
Lord Jesus, keep my words in check today so that everything I say is full of truth and seasoned with grace.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:54 P





November 02, 2008

God Still Makes Miracles

By Robert H. Schuller

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." – Psalm 139:14


How would you respond if someone challenged your faith with: "Show me a miracle – and I'll believe in it!" You could answer: "Take a look at me – I'm one! Then take a look in the mirror. You'll see another one!"

The fact that you are alive today is nothing short of a miracle! Your life is the continuation of an unbroken genetic string reaching back all the way to the first parents. Look back at your family tree and see how many times the cord came close to being severed. Was it in the Civil War? In a plague epidemic? On a slave ship crossing the waters from Africa to America?

You are a survivor of survivors of survivors! How often you yourself have survived near-death experiences, you will never know!

Your life has a special purpose. There is a reason why you are alive today. You are a walking miracle! Whatever your racial origin, ethnic identification, educational level, or economic bracket, you are special! You are a winner! You are alive!

Do give your life totally today to the God who brought you here. Let Jesus Christ – the Ultimate Survivor, who rose from the dead on Easter morning – be your best friend, and share His wonderful love with the people you come into contact with today. That, at least, is your reason for being here.

God must have believed that you'd be a good person to spread His love around in the world today! God has not let you down. You won't let Him down either. You have every reason to be super-grateful. Think of it: Saved for such a high and holy purpose.

Our God is a god of miracles – you being one of them!

* * *
O God, I know You gave me life and miraculously sustain it day-to-day for a high and holy purpose. Help me to be Your miracle of life today in this world.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:53 P





November 01, 2008

Open Your Mind to God

By Robert H. Schuller

"…everything that does not come from faith is sin." – Romans 14:23 (NKJV)


Each new year is an appointment to become an authentic optimist.

Each new day is justification for being enthusiastic about life again.

Each dawning is God's invitation to start over and build a new life, beginning with the present moment.

Every new week is an opportunity to make new and noble resolutions! Every Monday morning you have a standing appointment to meet new opportunities!

What does it mean to have faith?

Faith is opening your mind for God's thoughts to flow in – "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). And when His thoughts flow in, life will change, for you will have a dream. You will see possibilities in the day – the week – the month – the year that is waiting to unfold.

Faith moves mountains. The greatest power in the world is a positive idea.

And the most powerful positive idea is one that comes directly from the God who created the world and broke sunshine through the black of night.

Today open your mind to think God's thoughts. Allow Him to shape you into a new and different person – freed to experience possibility thinking.

Fill your mind with faith and positive ideas will follow.

* * *
Thank You, God, that I am being born again. Your Holy Spirit is filling my mind with Your thoughts. I am excited about today, and I'm excited about my future. Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:52 P





October 31, 2008

Welcome the Adventure

By Robert H. Schuller

"You have heard; see all this. And will you not declare it? I have made you hear new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them." – Isaiah 48:6 (NKJV)


God keeps so many secrets to Himself. Slowly, patiently, He releases new insights and allows each new generation the joy of making its own contributions! When science is on the verge of a new frontier, there are always negative, fearful eyes that see only the potential dangers. It seems contradictory that some people who are known as "people of faith" suddenly lose their faith when it comes to moving into uncharted scientific realms. God created the genes and the potential for life forms to be successfully created through gene splicing. God ultimately holds the final judgment and course of life in His hands.

Christians who walk the walk of faith look positively at the constructive possibilities in scientific discoveries, such as gene splicing. Possibility thinking sees dangers and potential difficulties in every forward move that we might make. But we do not reject an idea of vast positive potential because some incredible dangers might be unleashed. Rather, we take the discovery and try to identify the potential negatives.

We eliminate, isolate, insulate, or sublimate the negative! That's walking the walk of faith. Faith is splicing the gene! It's welcoming the adventure God reserved for a time like ours!

Uncharted scientific realms offer possibility thinkers the adventure of a lifetime.

* * *
Life is an adventure with You, God. Each day brings uncharted possibilities that faith alone can successfully navigate. Give me courage to take the ride!

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:51 P





October 30, 2008

The Desert—A Garden

By Robert H. Schuller

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." – Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)


Springtime in Israel is adorned with bright red poppies, yellow mustard plants, and green rolling hills. Yet, within one week the land can be scorched into a dry, colorless dust bowl. The hamsins, desert winds from the east, come without warming in April. Like fire, they parch the land of its new growth. Throughout the Old Testament, the psalmist and the prophets note this sudden disaster. Yet it is always followed with a promise; God will make the desert bloom. He will turn wasteland into glory.

Like the hamsins, problems and tragedies can come into our lives without warning. Just when a business begins to grow, a project starts to develop, or a relationship begins to flourish, an unforeseen circumstance can change the landscape of our lives. This is when we must not lose hope. We must cling to the promises. God will make the deserts in our lives bloom with new growth. Patience, perseverance, and understanding are all required to let God work. We must give God time to heal our hurts.. We must offer Him the chance to reseed and restore our dreams.

Then the problem will become an opportunity! The scar – a star! The desert – a living garden! "The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose" (Isaiah 35:1).

God can make the deserts in our lives bloom with new growth.

* * *
O God, because You are true to Your word and full of unfailing love, there is no wasteland in my life you cannot make flourish and bloom again. Thank You for that reassuring promise.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
11/28/08 3:50 P




October 29, 2008

"Lord, We Went…"

By Robert H. Schuller

"Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.'" – John 20:21 (NIV)


Deep in the stone chambers beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is an inscription bearing silent witness to the early church. Etched upon the walls are the words, "Lord, we went…" Next to the inscription is a picture of a fishing boat rowing away from Palestine toward other lands of the Roman Empire.

Jesus gave His disciples the commission, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21). It took great faith on the part of the disciples and the early Christians to realize that they were entrusted with the task of carrying the good news of Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection to a lost and dying world.

Most of the early Jewish Christians had never left the hill country of Judea. The Jews of that period had a tremendous fear of the sea. That was where Leviathan and other sea creatures lived. Through the centuries Israel had warred with people from the coastal areas.

Jesus instilled a revolutionary-type outlook of the world in the disciples. He enabled them to release old suspicions and fears and to trust Him fully. We have the same comfort and assurance that Jesus gave to the early Christians. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26).

The disciples of the early church went forth in the knowledge that they were given Christ's peace and assurance. They could accomplish anything that they attempted to do – even convert the mighty Roman Empire.

Etched in the wall opposite the inscription, "Lord, we went…" is the symbol of the mighty tenth and twelfth Roman legions from whose ranks came the soldiers who crucified Christ. The early Christians knew and understood the totality of Jesus' message of forgiveness. They put aside their prejudices against the Romans and took the good news of Jesus' love and forgiveness to lands and peoples whom they had suffered under.

May we be like the early disciples, and leave an inscription of love, peace, joy, and forgiveness on the hearts and minds of those around us for coming generations to read – "Lord, we went."



* * *
Lord, may I be like the early disciples, and leave an inscription of love, peace, joy and forgiveness on the hearts and minds of those around us for generations to come. Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/16/08 7:52 A





October 16, 2008

Positive Censorship

By Robert H. Schuller

"Be renewed in the spirit of your mind." – Ephesians 4:23 (NKJV)


In Proverbs 15:26 Solomon wrote that "the thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but the words of the pure pleasant." Possibility thinking includes the process of positive censoring. It involves sifting out the good from the bad.

Faith asks the question: Does this idea deserve my attention or the trademark of my name? Maintaining a constructive critical overview is a constant process.

Faith is not afraid to censor. It stands guard at the portals of your mind, checking the ethical and moral credentials of the ideas that could disrupt, disturb, and possibly destroy your attitude of faith.

So firm up your willpower.

Assign responsibility to the spiritual laws that manage your thoughts. Without guidelines, controls, and censorship, life is like an airplane with a drunken pilot. A crash landing is always looming.

You need Jesus Christ to guide your thinking. He stands at the door of your mind and heart waiting to help you if you will only ask Him to.

Faith stands guard at the portals of your mind.

* * *
Lord Jesus, my mind is like a mansion with many rooms. Will You come and be the Doorkeeper at the main entrance? Please dismiss the unworthy from my doorstep and welcome those visitors who would flood my mind with hope and health and happiness. Amen.

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/16/08 7:43 A





October 13, 2008

Give God Your Burdens

By Robert H. Schuller

"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." – Matthew 11:30 (NKJV)


Faith is trusting that God will settle the accounts with those who have been unjust and unfair with you. The psalmist David wrote: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22). No one travels the road of life without being affected by injustice at one time or another.

But the worst thing that can happen to you is to develop victimitis.

Victimitis is carrying your grudge and nursing the hurts. This produces a whole new batch of emotional demons to torment your soul. Resentment, anger, self-pity, and even vengeance become a mixed-up recipe for messed-up feelings.

If you walk the walk of faith, there will be times when you'll be treated unfairly. At such times, you can be assured that God can handle the injustice a lot better than you can.

You have the faith that He'll settle the score in a way that will be helpful and not hurtful to everyone concerned. So don't carry the grudge; bury it.

You can be positive about one thing. God knows the ins and outs of the entire upsetting situation a lot better than you do. God knows how to pull weeds without killing the flowers!

He understands your opponents, adversaries, and enemies a lot better than you do. God knows how to turn an enemy into a friend, too!

Let God take over whatever problem you face before it does untold damage to your spirit.

* * *
Dear God, with Your help, I promise to drop all resentments, all injustices, into the deepest sea of Your power and mercy and love. I trust You to settle the matter in the best way!

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MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/16/08 7:42 A





October 12, 2008

The Remote Places

By Robert H. Schuller

"And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there." – Matthew 14:23 (NKJV)


Throughout Jesus' ministry, He took time to be alone with His Father in prayer. After long days of ministering to the people in Galilee, Jesus often withdrew to deserted places around the sea.

In Christ's day, Galilee was one of the most fertile agricultural areas in all of Palestine. It bustled with life and was a major cosmopolitan center. The region's population was in the millions, with more than twenty-five cities surrounding the lake and another ninety cities within walking distance.

Somehow, Jesus found time and space to be alone with God. The desert places can actually be translated "the remote places" of Galilee. These remote places are the high mountain ranges with beautiful panoramic views of the lake. They are still valleys and the quiet fields covered with beautiful red anemones.

Jesus realized the importance and value of withdrawing to beautiful serene places to commune with God before spending Himself in ministry. We must do the same and draw our serenity and strength from quiet moments alone with God.

If you live in a bustling cosmopolitan center, seize the opportunity to share your faith with the people around you. But remember to make time to retreat to the remote places where you can commune with God. If you live near the ocean, take a moment to walk in the waves and let them lap around your feet. If you are near the mountains, walk with God through the quiet woods and tall majestic trees. If you are in the heart of the city, go to the top of your apartment building and catch the first rays of sunrise as it illuminates the sky above you. If you are in a hospital, close your eyes and remember the beautiful sunsets and sunrises that you have seen throughout your life.

No matter where you are, you can find a remote place to spend time with God. The remote places can become oases. There you commune with God so you can go into your busy world renewed with strength and faith.

Draw your serenity and strength by spending quiet moments alone with God.

* * *
Lord, today I will draw my serenity and strength from You by finding a quiet and remote place to spend time alone with You. Bless our time together.

* * *






UPANDOUT35 Posts: 546
10/15/08 8:31 A

Any Christian men here have any suggestions to get me motivated into 'wanting' to lose weight again?

I can't explain it, but I don't seem to have any 'drive' anymore. I started out doing really good, then my cousin moved to town and all he cares about is eating and he isn't interested in health or losing weight! We're close, but it's hard not to eat when I'm around him. I just get all caught up in it without thinking. I need some male company sometimes, but all this food is foiling all my previous hard work but I can't seem to say no to food when I'm around him...I can't just dump the guy, he's like my bro and he's my fishing buddy!

Any suggestions?

Edited by: UPANDOUT35 at: 10/15/2008 (08:28)
BOUND4GLORY SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,886)
Posts: 118
10/12/08 3:04 P

Keep moving forward for God! I pray he blesses each of you and your families this week.


THOSE BIG QUESTIONS...

(Mark 10:17) And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

(Mark 10:18) And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

(Mark 10:19) Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

(Mark 10:20) And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

(Mark 10:21) Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

(Mark 10:22) And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.


Now back to verse 17 “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”


You know, a lot of times, we don't ask God those big “life changing” questions like "which choice should I make?" or "what do you want me to do in this situation?" or "what do you want me to do with my life?".... because we’re afraid we won't get the answer we want.

For many of us, it can be downright scary, to ask God questions like these: (listen to these)
• Heavenly father, What or who do you want me to give up?
• How do you want me to use my time?
• How do you want me to spend my money?
• What about my life do you want me to change?
• What income would you like me to be satisfied with?
• And finally, Do you want me to rejoice in these tough situations and trials?

Those are scary questions to me sometimes, because there’s a GOOD chance that the answer may not be what I want to hear.
The Rich Young Ruler in these verses of Mark 10, dared to ask Jesus a life-altering question. He thought his life was in pretty good shape, ...so apparently he was confident he would hear an answer that fit right in with what he already had planned.
“Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Jesus told him “Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”

Then the young ruler goes, “Sheeww!, what a relief” I’m in! I got all that covered!. I’ve been good from the get-go!” He says “Master, all these have I observed from my youth.“ ... So he thinks he got the response he wanted.

Then Jesus says, “ One thing thou lackest”. In other words, calm down, Let the Lord finish what he’s saying. (Mark 10:21) Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor.

Was that the answer this man wanted to hear?_________

Was that the answer this man NEEDED to hear?________

(Mark 10:22) And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

--------------------------

Sometimes we create our own struggle when we know that we SHOULD ask God "what must I do?" but know full well we might not get the answer we are looking for. It’s a little frightening to know we should ask God "what must I do?" knowing that we might have to change, give up or redirect that which WE want most for ourselves.


• "Lord, what must I do with my life?"
• Well "I want you to move to this place, take this job, make a modest income, serve this community and work to build a strong Christian community in this location."
• Oh no.... I wanted to live in this OTHER place, make a ton of money doing this other job, and retire early and just relax.
• ------
• "Lord, what must I do about this person?"
• And He says "Forgive them, put the past behind you, make time to help them, bless them when they curse you."
• Oh, rats... I was hoping you would say "call down fire and brimstone on them, and be ready to say 'God is not mocked' as soon as calamity crushes their life". If I don't want to forgive them,... I should have never asked.

What are we afraid to ask God today? Are we afraid to ask His will about money, marriage, happiness, career, relationships, or our time? Are we afraid He might say "turn off the TV", "quit wasting money on more 'stuff'", or maybe he might say... "go ask that person for forgiveness"?
Whatever question you are afraid to ask God, on the basis that you might not get the answer you want...Well, that question is probably the very thing that is putting distance between you and God. You might not get the answer you want, or expect... but let me tell you with 100% certainty what kind of answer you will get from God..... you'll always get ....the RIGHT answer. So what is there to be scared of?
We need to pray in Jesus’ name for God to give us the courage ... to ask of Him, without ANY fear of His answer but with full confidence. .. that He’ll ALWAYS give us.... the right answer.

So,... what is YOUR question... for God today?


Edited by: BOUND4GLORY at: 10/12/2008 (15:08)
MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/11/08 7:47 P





October 11, 2008

A Matter of Integrity

By Robert A. Schuller

"The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out."– Proverbs 10:9


There is a difference between making an apology and making amends or restitution for your actions. An apology is merely saying "I'm sorry." Making amends goes further than that. It makes sure our harmful actions are never repeated.

Suppose you caught me lying to you about something, but I told you that I was sorry and asked you to forgive me. So you did. The very next day you caught me in another lie. Again, I offered my apology, and expressed my regret about the way I had been acting. And then, once again, I turned right around and told you a whopper for the third consecutive day. By that time you would undoubtedly and understandably be very reluctant to accept my apology because I had shown you that it wasn't sincere. I had made no attempt to make amends to you. When you're truly sorry about something, you will do your best to avoid repeating it.

There are two old proverbs that do a good job of describing what I'm talking about. The first is: "Talk is cheap." The second is: "Actions speak louder than words."

It's also been said that "If you're going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk," and I think that sums it up very well. Don't just say you want to make things right. Show by your actions that it is so.

Our walk talks, and our talk walks – but our walk talks further than our talk walks!

* * *
O Lord, I want to be a person of integrity – to walk my talk. Forgive me for having failed in this way in the past. Keep my feet on the path of humility so that I always do what is right and pleasing to You.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/11/08 7:46 P





October 10, 2008

Ghosts of Unresolved Guilt

By Robert A. Schuller

"For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death."– 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT)


Wouldn't it be terribly sad to be nearing the end of your life and realize that there were people to whom you needed to apologize and make restitution? Wouldn't it be sad to think, at that stage of life, about people you had hurt and wrong things you'd done that you had never even attempted to correct? That would be especially painful if you realized that any chance to make restitution had passed you by – that it was too late.

That's why it is so important to do your best, right now, to make things right so that you can live in peace the rest of your life – so that when the time comes, you can leave this world with a clean heart and a clear conscience.

The truth of that reality was brought home to me in a movie called Flatliners. The movie was about a group of medical students who were conducting experiments to experience temporary death, so they could explain what it's like. Driven by curiosity and spurred on by numerous accounts of near-death experiences, they devised a way to actually take a person to the point of physical death for a few minutes, and then, at precisely the right moment, bring him back.

One by one, the students volunteered to "die" for a few minutes, just to see what lies beyond this life. In each case the student was met on "the other side" by some situation revolving around unresolved guilt. You might say that they were attacked by the ghosts of their past. Each one came face to face with someone he had hurt in some way, someone to whom an apology had never been given nor restitution offered. Then each ghost from the past followed the "flatliner" back into the physical world, where he continued to haunt him and remind him of the harmful things he had done.

At first, some of the students pretended not to understand why they were being harassed; but in reality they knew why it was happening and what they had to do about it.

Eventually, one by one, the medical students began to make amends for the things they had done. And, as a result, by movie's end they were all happier, healthier, more peaceful people.

The movie reminds us that whether we want to admit it or not, if there is unresolved guilt and conflict in our lives, it will not let go. It will continue to haunt us until we take steps toward making things right. So don't delay. Take the path to freedom by making amends today.

"Regret and guilt go hand in hand. To have one, you must have the other; to lead a good life, have neither." – Unknown

* * *
Holy Spirit, You know every part of my being. Forgive me for resisting when You prompt me to do what is right. Today I surrender my will to Yours. Help me to live a pure life with no regrets.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/11/08 7:45 P





October 09, 2008

Living the Unselfish Life

By Robert A. Schuller

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others." – Philippians 2:3-4 (TNIV)


I'm not sure where I heard the following story, and I don't know when or where it happened – so I can't vouch for its authenticity – but it's supposed to be true, and it seems plausible to me.

A man became very ill and was rushed to the hospital. He had a temperature of nearly 107 degrees, and though his doctors and nurses tried everything they could to break that fever, it just wouldn't come down. They knew he couldn't survive for long in that condition.

During the middle of one fitful night, the sick man looked across the room and saw that he had a roommate. Even though he felt absolutely terrible, he realized he couldn't possibly feel as awful as this new fellow did. The man was very pale and had hollow, sunken eyes. He was obviously suffering a great deal and it seemed very likely the man would not survive the night.

For a brief instant, the first man forgot about his own problems and prayed. "Lord, I can't stand to see this fellow suffer like this. I've been asking You over and over to heal me. But now I tell You that I don't care what happens to me, but please help him."

After praying that prayer, he drifted off to sleep and, for the first time in a while, slept soundly for several hours. When he awoke, sunlight was streaming through the window, and he immediately noticed two things: One, he felt much better. Two, the other man was gone.

When the doctor came in on his rounds, he was surprised and delighted to see his patient doing so well. The fever had broken during the night, and the prognosis was excellent for a complete and speedy recovery.

"That's great," the man said, "but what about the other man who was in here last night? Did he…die?"

The doctor looked perplexed. "What man?" he asked. "Who else was in here last night?"

"The other patient."

"There's never been any patient in this room but you."

"But he was right over there." The man gestured in the direction of the person he had seen, but there was nothing there but a window.

It took them a while to figure out what had happened, but they finally came to the conclusion that during the night, the curtains on the window had remained open and somehow, the conditions were just right so that when the sick man looked at the window, he saw his own reflection. As he forgot about himself and reached out to help someone else, he actually brought God’s blessing into his own life.

The same is true for us. When we forget about our own hurts and needs and focus instead on healing the hurts and meeting the needs of others, we are often the one who is most blessed. That is why making amends is so important. Not only does it bless the one with whom we've had a problem, but it brings healing to us as well.

"Self-interest is the enemy of all true affection." – Franklin D. Roosevelt

* * *
Thank You, Lord, for reminding me how important it is to not always be thinking about myself, but that by caring for the hurts and needs of others, I am actually caring for myself. Show me how I can do that today.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/11/08 7:44 P





October 08, 2008

The Way to Healing and Peace

By Robert A. Schuller

"Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." – Psalm 32:1 (TNIV)


If you've ever spent a day getting a garden ready – hoeing, raking, and pulling weeds – you know what hard work it can be. In fact, after several hours of this sort of labor, dozens of muscles you didn't even know you had will ache. Yet after looking back over what was finally accomplished, you will have a sense of self-satisfaction that makes all those aching muscles worth it. Similarly, it is never easy to make amends for wrongs you've committed. But that, too, is more than worth the effort which is what I found out for myself when a situation developed that left me hurt and angry toward a longtime friend.

My friend's father, F.E., though quite a few years older than I, was also a very good friend of mine. He was always there for me – to congratulate me when I was doing well and to offer a few words of encouragement when I was struggling. We spoke on the phone frequently and wrote to each other on a regular basis.

F.E. was in his eighties when he contracted pneumonia and died. His passing hit me pretty hard. His family decided not to have a funeral or memorial service for him. They had something very small and private, with only the immediate family members in attendance. This made my sense of loss even greater. There is something about a funeral that gives closure to a relationship and aids the grief process. I felt cheated out of a chance to tell my old friend good-bye.

Because of my hurt and anger, I didn't tell my friend that I sympathized with him over the loss of his father. I saw him on occasion and always smiled and said something like, "It's really good to see you," but I never once said a word to him concerning how bad I felt about his dad's death.

He must have thought me a bit cold and unfeeling not to even mention it and probably wondered how I could be so nonchalant about his father's death when we had been such good friends. My feelings of hurt and anger outweighed my desire to do the right thing and extend my sympathy.

The situation bothered me enough to wake me up at night, so I decided that I really needed to take steps to make things right. It was during one of those sleepless nights that I got out of bed and wrote my friend a letter, explaining everything to him. I told him that I was angry with him and that I was sorry for my anger. I apologized for never consoling him and being a pastor to him. I promised him that my actions would be different toward him from then on. As I wrote that letter, through my tears, I was healed of the angry, resentful feelings I had carried around for several weeks. Later, I discovered that my actions hadn't hurt my friend nearly as much as they had hurt me. In reaching out to make peace with him, I found peace for myself.

When you forget about yourself and reach out to someone you've hurt in the past, you receive healing and peace, and the unresolved guilt that has held you back and caused difficulties in your life is removed. This, in turn, leads to increased self-esteem, and you are better able to interact positively with others.

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them." – Dale E. Turner

* * *
Lord, tune my heart to hear Your voice. Help me respond in obedience when You prompt me to make amends. Bring peace and joy to my life again.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/11/08 7:43 P





October 07, 2008

An Apology or An Excuse?

By Robert A. Schuller

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."– Philippians 4:13


When my daughter Christina was in kindergarten, one of the rules she and her classmates were asked to follow was to never say "I can't." Actually, that's a good rule for all of us to follow. Why? Because when we say, "I can't" what we are actually doing is refusing to take responsibility for anything.

Some of us say, "I can't" all the time – if not by our words, then certainly by our actions. We say things like, "I can't help the way I am," "I can't change things," "I can't do any better," "I can't help feeling this way."

I could go on for another ten pages, listing all the things we "can't" do. But it's way past time to stop hiding behind those two little words. You CAN quit making excuses for your actions and do what you know you ought to do.

When you were a child, do you remember your parents reading you the story about the little engine that could? Remember how it goes? The little engine puffed up the hill and told himself over and over, "I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!" And, sure enough, he does! That story became the basis for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Starlight Express. And one of the reasons that story has been around for so long is that it touches a chord or recognition in all of us.

If you think you can't say, "I'm sorry," you won't. But if you think you can – you will surprise everyone when you do!

Never ruin an apology with an excuse.

* * *
Thank you, Lord, for promising to give me the strength to do what's right, especially when I've wronged someone and need to apologize. I CAN…and WILL do what is right with the strength You give me.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/11/08 7:42 P





October 06, 2008

It's Hard to Say "I'm Sorry"

By Robert A. Schuller

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." – Luke 6:27


You may remember Elton John’s hit record of several years ago, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." If you don't think human beings are born with a lot of pride in them, just ask a child to apologize to someone for something he did and watch how he reacts. Chances are he'll cross his arms, become stiff, pout and try to get out of the inevitable.

I know that from personal experience. When my son Anthony was younger he used to find a way to blame whatever it was that he had done on his sister, Christina. You know the old story about George Washington and the cherry tree. When his father asked young George who had chopped down the tree, the boy replied, "I cannot tell a lie. I did it." Well, if Anthony had been George Washington he would have said something along the lines of "I cannot tell a lie. My sister, Christina, made me do it." Sometimes when I used to ask him why he had done something he had a hard time figuring out a way to make his sister responsible, but he always tried.

There's nothing unusual about that. It's rare to find a child who doesn't want to find a way to put the blame on others. I used to tell Anthony that when he was pointing the finger at his sister there were three fingers pointing right back at him. That's true for you and me, too. It's time for us to take the blame for our own actions and be willing to apologize to those we have harmed, even though the child within wants to protect us by pointing the finger at others.

We tend to think that people will think less of us if we admit our mistakes. They'll like us less if we say a heartfelt, "I'm sorry." That simply is not true. We all need to learn to be quick to say those two little words when we’ve done something wrong. And those of us who are parents need to say them to our children from time to time. Husbands need to say them to their wives, wives to their husbands, bosses to their employees, employees to their bosses, and so on. There isn't anybody in this world who is so big or so important that he's above apologizing when he's made a mistake.

Do you remember the day President Nixon resigned? What a sad day that was in the history of our country. I believe that had Mr. Nixon taken some responsibility for the Watergate break-in and said to Congress and the American people, "I'm very sorry about what happened," he might have been able to finish his term as president.

Instead, he refused to admit even the slightest bit of responsibility, and his presidency dissolved in a frenzy of finger-pointing, buck-passing, lying, and cover-up. Had Mr. Nixon been more open and showed a willingness to apologize, it would have served him very well. And there's a lesson in that for all of us!

Two little words, too infrequently spoken, leads to heartbreak and misery. Learn to say "I'm sorry."

* * *
Lord Jesus, I'm often like a child. I struggle to admit when I've hurt someone and need to say I'm sorry. Forgive my pride. Instill in me a right sense of humility as I commit to making amends.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:57 P





October 05, 2008

Love One Another

By Robert A. Schuller

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." – John 13:35 (NIV)


Hundreds of people were crowded into the building and spilling out into the street, hoping to get a glimpse of the frail, white-haired gentleman, not wanting to miss a bit of the wisdom in his words.

The place was Jerusalem. The time was nearly seventy years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The man this vast crowd had come to see was the apostle John, who was then nearly ninety years old. He was stooped with age, and those who were closest to him could see that his hands shook.

The crowd was silent as they waited to hear John speak. Most of those gathered stood in awe as they pondered everything John had seen in his lifetime. He had seen Jesus walk on water, raise Jairus's daughter from the dead, and take authority over the winds and waves.

John was standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified. He was the first to enter the empty tomb and see that Jesus had been raised from the dead. And, he had been there when Christ ascended into the sky, promising that he would return someday in the very same way.

Finally, it was time for the great apostle to speak. With obvious effort, he rose to his feet and stood silently for a moment. Then with stunning simplicity, John spoke: "My children, love one another." That was it – just five brief words. And then he sat down.

Church historians tell us that those five words made up the final public utterance of the apostle John. He knew he was nearing the end of his life on earth, and he wanted to leave his listeners with something that was of vital importance.

John could have chosen to speak about the importance of holding to correct doctrine or living a pure life. He could have gone on for hours, recounting many of the things he had seen and heard during the three years he spent with Christ. But instead, John simply focused on the importance of loving one another.

Loving one another is really what making amends is all about. It's caring enough about "the other" to humbly attempt to make things right with that person. It’s loving enough to risk being rejected.

Next time you are tempted to hold on to resentment, anger or a grudge, remember the words of John the apostle: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.... then try to live up to them.

LOVE is a four-letter word that can never be said too often.

* * *
GUIDED PRAYER: Close your eyes for a minute and let the face of one person you harbor anger or resentment toward come to mind. Then ask yourself: "Do I care enough about this person to attempt to make things right?" Once you've answered that, ask God to show you what your first step should be.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:56 P





October 04, 2008

Make a Commitment

By Robert H. Schuller

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." – Psalm 37:5 (NKJV)


Miracles involve believing, but quite often they also involve acting on belief. Read carefully in the Gospels the words of Jesus, and notice the verbs. Follow, go, seek, ask, knock. The walk of faith is not merely the serene, silent, spiritual, unspeaking stroll of a holy man in the stillness of the sunrise or the secret silence of the sunset. Faith is the mental activity that draws God into our minds and imaginations until a passion begins to inflame our wills, motivating us to action! Psalm 37:5 challenges: "Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."

It is then that the commitment is made. And what is a commitment? It is entering into an honorable contract, pledging oneself before the problems are solved. If we waited until we saw solutions to all problems before we made a commitment, we would obviously not be walking the walk of faith! It is for that reason that commitment – in marriage, in religion, in interpersonal relationships, in devotion and dedication to your career goal or the fulfillment of a project – becomes self-inspiring.

Walk the walk of faith today. Make a fresh commitment to God!

Faith draws God into our minds and imaginations until a passion begins to inflame our wills, motivating us to action!

* * *
God, I'm ready to take the plunge. Give me the push that I need. I'm trusting that with Your help I will tackle every problem at every turn of the road with a positive mental attitude! And together we'll succeed. Amen.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:55 P







October 03, 2008

Guide Me, Lord

By Robert H. Schuller

"Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths." – Psalm 25:4 (NKJV)


The walk of faith is an adventure in a holy partnership. You are a human being with a mortal starting point at birth and a mortal terminal point at death. The span between your birth and death is your earthly life. Your purpose is to fit into a holy scheme and become a participant with God. He created the world and all of us human beings for the purpose of creatively achieving His holy and happy purposes.

You are walking the walk of faith when you dream God's dreams and seek God's guidance. Therefore, faith is not merely a super-aggressive activity into which you plunge with a gung-ho attitude, to achieve the first impulse that bursts into your mind. Rather, faith is a steady, stable, and steadfast process of opening your conscious and subconscious mind through prayer to the Holy Spirit. The eternal God will shape your will and direct your way! God has promised He will give you guidance.

In the depths of your heart, you know with certainty the course of action your life must take. God Himself answers your prayers for guidance, giving you a strong and powerful will to proceed along the determined pathway. In all your ways, remain open to His leading.

The walk of faith is an adventure in a holy partnership.

* * *
O Lord, I admit that without You guiding me, I would be lost. Shape my will. Direct my way. Keep me open to Your leading.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:54 P





October 02, 2008

The Lord, My Shepherd

By Robert H. Schuller

"The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water." – Revelation 7:17 (NIV)


Psalm 23 beautifully reflects both David's early life as a shepherd boy in the hills surrounding Bethlehem and his adult reign as king of Israel.

The youngest child of Jesse, David was responsible for caring for his father's sheep. He was a small lad, yet he was strong and skilled in his work. Daily he guided the flock through the desert wilderness of Judah.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). David's knowledge of shepherding was unsurpassed. He was very familiar with the demands placed on a shepherd to locate food and water for his flock, both of which were scarce in the parched land.

"He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (Psalm 23:2-3).

David the shepherd knew of the few underground springs hidden in the rocky crevices of the wilderness. He carefully led his sheep to the pools of fresh water where they could drink and be restored.

It was not uncommon to spend the night with the flock out in the hills. At dusk, just when the sun sat low in the afternoon sky, the chalky wilderness suddenly became a row of hills and valleys with long dark shadows crisscrossing the land. The high mountain cliffs totally blocked the sunlight, causing dark black ravines where the shepherd and his flock would be found. David recalls these frightful moments when he and his flock were easy prey for wild leopards, lions and bears. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4). David's reference to his childhood fear adds an even greater spiritual meaning to his psalm of praise.

As king of Israel, David draws from his kingly experience to further illustrate God’s goodness. "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over" (Psalm 23:5).

A noted practice of David's day was to break bread – or eat a meal together as a covenant of peace, security, and forgiveness. Here David acknowledges that God makes peace with His enemies. God anoints his head with oil as a sign of His blessing. And his cup running over signifies the success and prosperity God bestowed upon him.

The psalm reflects a beautiful relationship between David and his Lord, for David saw God at work in the ordinary activities of daily life. His psalm of praise can also be ours as we realize God's gifts of security, peace, and prosperity in our lives: Then we can also say with David, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6).

Watch God at work in the ordinary activities of your life.

* * *
Father, thank You for being my shepherd – for watching over every detail of my life. Your love and kindness never fail me. Great is Your faithfulness.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:54 P





October 01, 2008

You Can Rise from the Ashes

By Robert H. Schuller

"And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." – Job 42:10 (NKVJ)


There are seasons of the soul. Just as winter is not the time to cut a tree because a tree that looks dead may have more life in it than you think, a dark time in your life is not the right time to make a decision.

Never set your goals when you are at a low ebb. Believe that springtime will come.

Remember that this depressing season will pass and that positive feelings will return to you. You will come back again.

Yes, your faith will pluck you from the ashes and new life will come from the places that felt dead. Your youthful enthusiasm will return.

Burned out? Take a break. Refuel. Seek a retreat. Find renewal. Replenish. Rest. You can go on again.

Never make a move from weakness. Always move from strength.

And the spring will turn to summer and the summer to harvest time!

You will reap simply because you didn't give up!

New life springs from places that felt dead.

* * *
Thank you, Lord, for seeing me through every season of life, good and bad. Be my place of retreat. Renew and replenish my soul. Bring restoration.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
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September 30, 2008

Climb Out of Your Rut

By Robert H. Schuller

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)


Is it possible that you are in a negative-thinking rut?

Aeronautical engineers in the 1920s said it was impossible to fly faster than the speed of sound, but they were wrong. Is it possible you might be placing your faith on some negative precept? What ideas are limiting your growth? What opinions are restricting you?

Ruts have a way of becoming security blankets in your second childhood. Most little children have their favorite blanket. Many of your negative, deeply ingrained opinions and well-entrenched conclusions become emotional security blankets, holding you back from: daring to get into business for yourself, daring to go back to college, daring to tackle a physical fitness program, or daring to make a major career change in mid-life!

It takes a lot of faith to pack up and move to a new city, state or country.

What ruts are you in? You're free to leave that rut. A rut, you know, is a grave – with the ends knocked out.

Come alive. Climb out of it. Tackle some exciting new possibilities today! Just make sure you are guided by God Almighty and His holy Word. Psalm 119:105 says that God's "word is a lamp to [your] feet and a light to [your] path"! Follow it.

Don't let your ruts become security blankets.

* * *
O God, You have the power to release me from negative, locked-in thinking. Help me to see beyond the ruts and look toward the exciting, new possibilities that await me.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
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September 29, 2008

Swallow Your Hurts

By Robert H. Schuller

"You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit." – Job 10:12 (NKJV)


Sometimes we try to handle the rejections, defeats and the failures we experience by pretending to be okay even though we are really very frightened by the things we can't understand. You may have collected enough hurts to keep you from wanting to press forward. Setbacks can take the joy out of faith if you don't watch out! Even success – steady, solid, and exceptional – can make you the target of criticism from colleagues who are jealous of your achievement.

Careful! Hidden hurts in the heart can nurture and nourish negative thinking. Often the most painful wounds are not the scars that are outwardly seen but the hidden wounds deep in the heart. Because they are hidden they are often the most dangerous.

Swallow your hurts and stimulate a new spirit and spurt of growth! If, in fact, your drive to grow has lost its passionate power, if the flush of enthusiasm has mysteriously diminished, then check the accumulation of negative emotions that have attached themselves to you, much like barnacles that attach to whales.

Along the shoreline in California it is a common sight to see whales stopping alongside rocks to scrape off barnacles as they migrate from Alaska to Mexico. In the walk of faith we, too, will pick up a collection of personal hurts that will attach themselves to our souls like parasites sapping the life and vitality out of us! Ultimately, Job found restoration not in hiding behind a false face of well-being, but in recognizing and acknowledging the greatness of God (Job 42), and so can we.

Watch out for setbacks that threaten to take the joy out of your faith.

* * *
Lord, I acknowledge Your greatness, and I trust You with the things I cannot understand. With Your help, I will swallow the hurts that seek to overwhelm me; and they will pass on and out of my life. Thank You for hearing my prayer.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
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September 28, 2008

Dare to Wade Deeper

By Robert H. Schuller

"And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land." – Nehemiah 9:11 (NKJV)


Miracles happen when you practice the faith of deep water.

Your first acts of faith were like approaching the water on the beach with a timid toe, suspecting an unpleasant chill. You continued to move cautiously, deeper and deeper into the water. Soon the water reached your waist, then your chest. Then your arms reached out to fan and skim the surface. Finally, leaving the solid bottom, by faith you swam to the deeper waters.

Faith always calls you forward. It never allows you to settle back and be satisfied. Faith compels you to wade deeper—to go the extra distance. The people of Israel exercised such faith at the Red Sea, stepping forth into the path God had made for them in the midst of the water (Nehemiah 9:11). Faith keeps you from giving up. Faith calls you again, echoing and re-echoing that solitary word, "More!"

It takes faith to wade into deep waters - especially when you don't know where the bottom is. You do not know what the future holds, but you know who holds the future.

God is your Captain, and He knows the waters well. He keeps calling you onward and forward. God is committed to leading you always onward to new life. God knows that something dies within us when we are so safe and secure we no longer need daring and courageous faith. He is not satisfied if He sees you become stagnant. For stagnation quickly leads to swamps.

Stagnation in your walk of faith quickly leads to spiritual swamps.

* * *
God, give me the courage to swim in the strong stream, to wade into the deeper water, to move into an area where it will be impossible to succeed without Your help!

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
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September 27, 2008

One at a Time

By Robert A. Schuller

"He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way." – Psalm 25:9


In the nineteenth century there were men who traveled around the country selling "tonic" in what were known as "medicine shows." And what a tonic it was! A few swallows of the elixir could cure any disease known to mankind, and a few that weren't. Not really. But that's the sort of claim that was being made by these medicine men.

But in actuality, there is no super-drug that will cure all of your ills at once. And when it comes to prayer, God doesn't operate that way either. To pray, "God, here's a list of all my problems. Now please fix everything," isn’t the way God works. You need to keep this in mind if you are coming to God with a list of shortcomings you want to see change in your life. I suggest you bring one shortcoming to God at a time, perhaps starting out with the one that causes the most damage in your life.

For instance, if you struggle with addiction to over-the-counter drugs like diet pills, sleeping pills, or caffeine tablets, maybe you've begun to think there is no way you'll ever be set free from your dependence on them. That should be the first thing, then, that you talk to God about. Ask Him for the strength to overcome this particular problem, and then follow through by seeking to take appropriate steps as He gives you that strength.

Start there. Then as you gain ground in that area, you can begin to pray about other areas of your life as well. Perhaps your prayer will sound something like this:

"Lord Jesus, now more than ever, I am aware of the shortcomings in my life. I acknowledge that giving in to them is sin and that it separates me from You. Please forgive me. I'm asking You to change me – to change my weaknesses into strengths. When I want to criticize, help me to see good things in others.When I am envious, please help me to be grateful for what I have. Most of all, Lord, change my heart. I will do my part, to change what I can, but I know that only You have the power to take these attitudes and behaviors away completely. I pray all this in the name of Jesus. Amen."

It is important for you to remember that it's precisely when you are feeling your worst that you need to hold on to God and His promises the tightest. Psalms is a great book to remind you that God is with you in times of trouble and will keep you safe and secure as you head down the path of life change. Check out Psalm 34:18-22 and Psalm 25:8-11 for starters.

Our shortcomings have a way of disappearing when we do our part and let God do His.

* * *
Lord, in Your unfailing love You move me to change my life. Show me how to change what I can, and to trust You to do the rest.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:49 P

September 26, 2008

Persevere in Prayer

By Robert A. Schuller

"A man's steps are directed by the Lord."– Proverbs 20:24


Prayer often works more like a medicine than radical surgery.

What do I mean by that? Suppose you were sick; so you went to the doctor and he prescribed an antibiotic and told you to take two tablespoons twice daily for ten days. Would it do you any good to drink the entire bottle of medicine immediately on leaving the doctor's office? Of course not! In fact, doing something like that would only add to your miseries.

It's the same with prayer. It often takes continued prayer, over a period of many days, or even years, to bring about the answers we seek. Why is this true? The only thing that grows fast in my garden are the weeds. The flowers take time to blossom. Based on my own life and on things other people have told me, this is most often the way prayer is, too.

I remember a woman who attended my church in San Juan Capistrano, California. She was told by her doctor, in May of 1983, that she had ovarian cancer and had only eighteen months to live. We put Laura Jean on our prayer list and members of our church community continually prayed for her. While God never chose to remove Laura Jean's cancer, he did extend her life nearly ten times longer than her doctor predicted.

I mention Laura Jean because I don't want you to become discouraged and give up if it seems like there is no immediate bolt of lightning in response to your prayer requests. Going back to the analogy of the antibiotic – suppose that the doctor had given you a bottle of medicine and told you to take it for ten days, but after the fourth or fifth day you weren't feeling very much better so you decided to just give up? Perhaps in another day or two you would have been feeling just fine, but you gave up too soon.

Or another scenario might be that in four or five days you were feeling so much better that you decided you didn't need the medicine anymore. What do you think would happen then? Very likely, the illness would come right back and you'd have to go back to the doctor for another prescription.

My point is this: to become the person you want to be, you're going to have to pray, pray, and pray some more. Don't give up because nothing seems to be happening – you might be poised on the edge of victory. At the same time, don't quit praying about something until you are absolutely sure God has given you the victory. Some of the shortcomings you've been looking at in your life recently may be so deeply ingrained in your character that they will need to be included in your prayers for the rest of your life. That's fine. It's not a sign of weakness – yours or God's! Just remember: the idea is to move one step at a time, one day at a time, committing each one to God as it unfolds, recognizing His mercies and benefits in each.

Perseverance in prayer often brings unexpected blessings.

* * *
Oh, Lord, You have a plan for my life today. I want to be a part of it. Teach me to take life one day at a time, one step at a time, and to wholly rely on You. Amen.

* * *


MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:49 P





September 25, 2008

Clothed with Humility

By Robert A. Schuller

"Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" – 1 Peter 5:5


Humility is the thread that runs through the lives of all three of the Bible characters I mentioned in yesterday's devotional. None of them accomplished anything on their own. They all responded rather reluctantly to God's call to greatness, but they did respond, and God used them to accomplish great things for Him.

I believe that in one way or another God is calling all of us to great things. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He can accomplish great things through anyone who is committed to doing His will. I'm not saying that you will become a king or a queen, or even that the world will notice what you do; many things are done quietly behind the scenes. Perhaps one of the greatest things you will ever do is overcome the shadows of your life that have kept you from experiencing the freedom God calls you to so He can help you become all that He intends for you to be.

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis has some excellent thoughts about what it will be like when we pass from this life into the next. He suggests that only then will we know what people have actually done with what they were given.

God doesn't look at outward appearances; He looks at what's in the heart. He doesn't care as much about what you've done as He does about what you've done with what you were given and what you've become. I'm convinced that when we get to heaven, we will find that some of the greatest heroes are folks whose names were never in the local newspapers. The world never took note of what they did because they did it quietly, behind the scenes. But God noticed. And He will see that appropriate recognition is given. It may not happen in this life, but it will happen!

"Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service and character." – William A. Ward, American author, pastor, teacher

* * *
Soften my heart, Lord. Deliver me from callous pride. Empower me to do what's right no matter what opposition I face. Fill me with Your grace.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:48 P





September 24, 2008

Accomplishing Great Things

By Robert A. Schuller

"I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me...."– Romans 15:18


There are many accounts in the Bible of ordinary men and women who accomplished great things simply because they let God have control of their lives. Let me tell you about just three of them: Moses, Gideon, and David.

Moses was eighty years old when God called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Up to that point, Moses hadn't really done anything spectacular. And besides that, he had a speech impediment. When God told Moses he'd been chosen to rescue the Israelites, he protested loudly, "Lord, I have never been eloquent....I am slow of speech and tongue" (Exodus 4:10). But in spite of all his initial protests, Moses finally surrendered his will to God and became the first great leader of the Israelite nation – one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Gideon lived during a time when the nation of Israel was occupied by the vicious Midianites who were great warriors and so brutal that many of the Israelites hid in mountain caves to protect themselves. One day, an angel appeared to Gideon and told him he had been chosen to lead the Israelites in a fight to reclaim their independence. Young Gideon, knowing the strength of the enemy, reacted in a way you might expect: "But Lord," he said, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" (Judges 6:15). But Gideon decided to trust God and led the rebellion just as God had told him to do and the mighty Midianites were driven from the land. Gideon was just a young man – a farmer, really – but in God's hands he became a mighty warrior and the means through which his people regained their freedom.

David was the greatest king the nation of Israel ever had. Yet, if you remember, when the prophet Samuel went to David's house to anoint him king (ref. 1 Samuel 16), he was the last son his father Jesse thought of to serve in that role. After all, he was just a boy who was weak and small in comparison to his older brothers. Yet God called David to the task. After being summoned from the fields, where he was tending his father's flock of sheep, the prophet Samuel anointed the young man who went on to be one of the greatest kings in all of Israel's history – the one through whose line Jesus would come.

When God chooses you and calls you to a task, He will help you accomplish great things on His behalf.

God changes our insignificance into significant accomplishments when we step out in faith and follow Him.

* * *
Mighty God, You remind me through Your word that you often accomplish great things through seemingly insignificant people. Thank You for choosing me to be part of Your great plan.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
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September 23, 2008

Who Makes the Music?

By Robert A. Schuller

"But the pot the potter was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so he formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." – Jeremiah 18:4


I heard a story about a great violinist who came to Houston to give a concert. This violinist had recently spent thousands of dollars to purchase a Stradivarius violin. Naturally, there was a great deal of interest in this exquisite instrument, and all the news media carried stories about this wonderful opportunity to hear the fabulous music that such a violin would produce.

The local newspapers ran photographs of the Stradivarius and published articles telling about its history and the marvelous tonal quality of the instrument. There were few words spoken about the violinist himself; most of the praise went to the violin.

Finally the night of the concert arrived. The orchestra hall was packed. The audience was thrilled with every note, and the auditorium filled with wave after wave of tremendous applause. When the concert ended, the audience jumped to their feet in a prolonged standing ovation.

Then the violinist did something quite shocking. He took his violin, that beautiful instrument that had been the source of such wonderful music all night long, and lifted it over his head. After the crowd rose to its feet in adulation, he brought the instrument down hard across his knee and broke the violin into pieces.

A gasp of horror swept through the auditorium. People wondered if the violinist had completely lost his mind. Then he raised his hand to quiet the crowd and told them, "This is not my Stradivarius. I went down to the pawnshop and bought this violin for ninety-five dollars."

You see, it wasn't so much the quality of the instrument that produced the beautiful, soul-stirring music that night – it was the quality of the person playing the instrument.

If you've taken time to do a personal inventory or identify the shortcomings in your life, you may feel, at this point in your life, like the ninety-five dollar pawnshop violin living in a world full of Stradivariuses. Maybe you've had thoughts like this, "Boy, if only I had his talent," or "If only I had her beauty," or "I sure wish I were as smart as she is."

Truth be told, it doesn't matter if you're not as smart, rich, clever, or beautiful as some other person. If your life is held in God's hands, then you, too, can produce the most beautiful music imaginable. The key is to get your focus off yourself and on to the Great Musician – God!

Let the Master of your soul create something beautiful of your life today.

* * *
You are continually in the process of reshaping and fine-tuning my life, Lord. Today I will cooperate with You in that process because I know that what You produce will be beautiful and good.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
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September 22, 2008

Let God “Undragon” You

By Robert A. Schuller

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time."– 1 Peter 5:6


C.S. Lewis in his Chronicle of Narnia titled Voyage of the Dawn Treader, tells the story of a boy named Eustace who was despised by almost everybody. He was self-centered and had a knack for saying just the right thing to antagonize people.

Eustace joined Lucy and Edmund (remember them from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?) in an adventure that took them aboard an unusual sailing ship named the Dawn Treader headed for a remote mountainous island.

One evening Eustace left the campsite and accidentally wandered into the lair of a recently deceased dragon. Since he was lost, Eustace spent the night sleeping on a pile of treasures that had been hoarded by the dragon. Before going to sleep, Eustace placed a bracelet around his arm only to awaken the next morning to discover the rather disturbing fact that he had actually become a fire-breathing dragon. It seems that sleeping on a dragon's hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart had turned Eustace into a dragon…and he really didn't want to remain a dragon. By then, the bracelet around his arm proved to be quite painful.

Then Eustace had an encounter with Aslan, the lion. Aslan offered to ease the pain of his injured dragon arm by bathing it in a bubbling well. But first Eustace needed to have his ugly scales removed. He tried to remove them himself and managed to remove several layers of the rough and wrinkled skin. But Aslan told him, "You will have to let me undress you." Eustace was afraid of the lion's claws but was nearly desperate now. The first tear was so deep Eustace thought it had gone right into his heart. But Aslan succeeded where Eustace could not, and the scales were removed to reveal the boy beneath. Then Aslan threw Eustace into the water. It smarted like everything for a moment but then became (in Eustace's words) "perfectly delicious."

Afterward Aslan dressed Eustace in new clothes and "undragoned" him. Then C.S. Lewis writes, "From that time forward Eustace was a different boy." To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be tiresome. But most of those went unnoticed. The cure had begun.

Like Eustace, though we try as hard as we might to rid ourselves of our "scaly" shortcomings, we fail miserably. It's not until we become willing to let God remove our weaknesses and shortcomings that we begin to see our lives change for the better.

As God rids us of our "scaly" shortcomings, our "best" self emerges.

* * *
Loving Father, I know that because You love me, You will go after everything in my life that keeps me from being free. Peel away my "scaly" shortcomings and make me a better person.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:46 P





September 21, 2008

Progress, Not Perfection

By Robert A. Schuller

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress."– 1 Timothy 4:15


There's an old Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is talking about glaciers. In his own succinct way, he says that glaciers sometimes follow an erratic path. A glacier will move one foot forward, and then melting will cause it to move a couple of feet backward. So the cycle goes: one foot forward, two feet backward, another couple of feet forward, and so on. "Which," Charlie says, "reminds me a lot of myself."

What about you? Do you tend to make progress the speed of a glacier? When faced with stubborn habits, behaviors, or character traits you'd love to see eliminated from your life, do you see yourself moving in an erratic pattern or losing more ground than gaining it? Don't give up. Look for positive signs that you are moving in the right direction. Don't give in to nagging doubt, that negative voice that picks on you and tells you that you will never get to where you want to be. You took one step forward – and that's great. Take another one…and another one…and another one…until you're virtually running in the right direction. Positive! Forward! That's the name of this life-change process we call transformation. Concentrate on the plus side of things. Record your progress. Celebrate it. Thank God for it. And you will find – over time – that the positive movement far outweighs the negative.

Here's a little practical advice: A positive step toward making life change comes when you focus on developing what you would like to see replace your shortcomings. I've heard the term shortcoming described as "what is short in coming to us." Let me suggest you make a list of your shortcomings as you see them. Then for each shortcoming think of an opposite, positive quality you would like to see take its place. For example, if stinginess is one of your shortcomings, then sharing or generosity might be the positive quality you want to list as a replacement.

Transformation is a life-long process, so welcome small beginnings.

* * *
Dear Lord, please help me to be honest about my shortcomings and to stay positive about my progress. Thank You for loving me right where I am today.

* * *






MIKEJOS2 Posts: 606
10/5/08 9:32 P





September 20, 2008

Sundo Kim Believed It and Achieved It

By Robert H. Schuller

"If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." – Matthew 17:20


I met Sundo Kim here in California, though his home was in Korea. My first visit to that country was right after the Korean War. Never had I seen such a bleak, barren, defeated land.

Among the crowd of impoverished refugees who fled from the North were throngs of Christians. These Christians believed in a God who would never forsake those who never forsook Him. So they held on to their hope in God. One young Korean minister from that impoverished land received a scholarship to Fuller Seminary in California. While studying there, we invited him to be our guest at an institute held at our church.

This young man was very impressed when he walked onto the Crystal Cathedral church grounds with its thirteen-story tower and large modern sanctuary with fountains. He heard and believed what we taught at our institute, "Believe it and you can achieve it." He took pictures of the tower and picture of the church and began to dream that someday he could build a church like that in Korea.

Four years later I returned to Korea. When this minister heard I was coming, he asked me to speak in his church. All he had was a tent, but he and his people were excited. I said I'd be honored to preach for him in his tent on Saturday night. But on Saturday morning the telephone rang telling me and Mrs. Schuller that our daughter, Carol, had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. We flew home immediately, so I wasn't able to keep my speaking commitment.

Four years after that I returned to Seoul, Korea, to receive an honorary degree from Hangyang University. When my young minister friend heard that I would be in Korea, he asked me to stop by and see his church. Although I was scheduled to be in Korea for only forty-eight hours, I promised him that somehow I would make it to his church.

I was amazed when I arrived in Korea. What a difference four years had made. We flew into a beautiful airport that was a spectacular piece of architecture. Surrounding the airport was a glorious park of lawns, trees, and waterfalls. Downtown Seoul had been beautifully reconstructed. And as we drove down the magnificent new freeway that slices through Seoul, I saw it! Looming in the sky was a replica of our Garden Grove, California, Tower of Hope. And next to it was a glorious church building that would seat four thousand people.

The young pastor greeted me and eagerly gave me a tour of his church. He introduced me to his elders and deacons as he shared with me that he now had over 12,000 church members.

He had learned the lesson, too: Tough times never last, but tough people do!

It is amazing what God can do if we give Him time to work His plans out!

Whatever your mind can believe, you can achieve.

* * *
Lord Jesus, You can take even a small seed of faith and make it grow into something extraordinary. Give me that kind of faith. I am trusting You for the impossible today.

* * *






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