Devotionals

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Posted 11/28/14 at 10:10 AM | Joel Osteen

Let Your Faith Say “Thank you!”

Wouldn't it be great to have Thanksgiving 365 days a year?! We can because Thanksgiving isn't just a holiday; it's an attitude of the heart. We celebrate every day because no matter what is going on in life, we can find a reason to thank God.

Having an attitude of thanksgiving all depends on what you choose to focus on. You can either focus on your problems, or you can focus on your blessings. The question is: Do you want more problems, or do you want more blessings? Living with an attitude of gratitude means that you don't just thank God for what He did in the past, but you also thank Him for what He will do in the future. You thank Him for opening new doors. You thank Him for increasing you. You thank Him for bringing the right people into your life.

When we thank God in advance, that's really a declaration of faith. Your thanks is saying, "God, I'm so sure of Your goodness, I'm so sure that You're working in my life that I'm going to thank You right now for what You are going to do tomorrow!" Remember, faith is what pleases God. Faith is what moves Him. Faith is what opens the door for His promises to enter your life. Today and every day have an attitude of gratitude and let your faith say thank you! FULL POST

Posted 11/28/14 at 9:30 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

20 Reasons You Should Be Thankful For What You Have

It’s really easy for us to complain about stupid things that don’t really matter. In light of Thanksgiving and Black Friday being just around the corner, here are 20 reasons you should be thankful for what you have. I’m sure these will make you re-think your complaints and frustrations.

20 Reasons You Should Be Thankful For What You Have:

1. More than 660 million people live on less than $2.00 a day.

2. More than 385 million live on less than $1 a day.

2. Than than 121 million children are without an education.

3. 1.4 million children die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation

4. 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.

5. Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.

6. Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight.

7. 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat. FULL POST

Posted 11/26/14 at 6:59 PM | Anna Diehl

How can we all be special to God?

If we’re all special to God, doesn’t that mean that no one is special? Well, what do you value more: your sense of hearing or your sense of sight? Does the fact that you can hear make you care less about the fact that you can see? No, because each sense is extremely important to you for different reasons. Your ears could never fill in for your eyes, and visual images could never be a satisfying substitute for being able to hear. This is the kind of special you are to God. When He says that He cherishes you and that you are one of a kind to Him, He is not exaggerating. He made you unique on purpose and this means that you are not in competition with anyone else for His attention or love. Sure He loves other Christians, but this doesn’t dampen His love for you in anyway. Should your ears be jealous of how much you value your eyes? No, because your ears know that they attract you in a way that your eyes never could and vice versa. FULL POST

Posted 11/26/14 at 1:02 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Digital Gutenberg

The world was never the same after Johannes Gutenberg rolled off the first printed books in
Europe in the 1450s.

Cheap books, pamphlets, and tracts spread ideas that torched whole societies. Religious reforms followed in their path but also wars and revolutions. Religious persecution reached new heights.

Sometimes lunatics raised large followings.

The power brokers, the political and religious leaders, no longer controlled ideas. More people
learned to read. Ordinary folks read the Bible in their own tongue, not in the Latin of the elite.
Cherished beliefs crumbled. Power struggles ripped apart kingdoms across Europe, creating
hordes of refugees.

Yet, when greater stability took hold by the 1700’s, religious tolerance had increased. Though
established religions lost influence, many faith-based religious groups gained. They led
movements to block the slave trade, set up educational programs for the less well off, and send
missionaries to serve native peoples harmed by Europe’s desire for conquest and wealth. FULL POST

Posted 11/25/14 at 6:47 PM | Anna Diehl

Should Christians Pray Before Every Meal?

Under the New Covenant, there is no law that says we must pray before every meal. Instead, God wants us to recognize that everything we have is a gift from Him, and to respond with appropriate gratitude. For many Christians, pausing to pray before each meal is a very helpful ritual. It is beneficial for them to stop and focus on God. As long as your prayers are sincere, then you are honoring God by praying before you eat. But if you’ve fallen into some rut where you say the same words every time without thinking about them, then your prayers are meaningless. God would much rather you skip praying before meals altogether than sit there mumbling His Name while your mind is elsewhere.

When it comes to praying in public, your heart attitude determines how God interprets your actions. If you normally pray before your meals when you are at home, and the only reason you’re not praying in public is because you don’t want other people to notice that you respect God, then your motivations are obviously lousy and God is not going to be pleased. We don’t want to go around acting like we’re embarrassed or ashamed to be associated with the One who saved our souls. You should be consistent with how you behave at meal time, regardless of where the table is set. If you don’t normally pray before meals when you’re by yourself, but then you break out some long, wordy speech just because you’re sitting with your pastor, then God is not going to pleased. He has no use for hypocrisy. Whatever you do needs to be sincere. FULL POST

Posted 11/25/14 at 6:46 PM | Anna Diehl

Confronting Your Convictions: When You Don’t Have the Courage to Obey

This is the moment for some honest soul searching. Some of you sincerely care about pleasing God, but there is one key area of your life where obedience is just not happening and it’s really starting to get in your way with Him. The Holy Spirit keeps telling you that certain things need to change, but you’re pulling out the selective listening skills and acting like you didn’t quite hear Him. Not because you are trying to be a hardcore rebel, but because the particular sin you’re engaging in is solving some other very real problems in your life and if you stopped doing it, you’d end up in three times the mess. “Where would God be then?” you ask yourself fearfully. “Nowhere,” is Satan’s instant reply. He would like you to keep doing what you’re doing because willful disobedience has a wonderfully negative effect on the health of your soul. You realize this and don’t want to help Satan take you down, but you simply don’t have the guts to change. At least in this one area, you’re a total coward. Cowardice is a very real part of the human condition. Even Jesus said a “Please, God, not that,” prayer when it came to being crucified. For the rest of us regular humans, our courage falters long before Gethsemane. FULL POST

Posted 11/24/14 at 10:53 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

We Need a Fresh Appreciation of the Gospel’s Magnificence

“We have grown so accustomed to the idea of divine love...that we no longer sense the awe that God's coming should awaken in us.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I have seen firsthand people watching the JESUS Film for the first time, in their own languages, viewing Jesus with awe and wonder and affection, then crying out in agony when He is tortured and crucified, and weeping uncontrollably at the gospel story.

Seeing eyes glued and ears tuned to the JESUS film gives you a fresh appreciation of the gospel’s magnificence. There is nothing like hearing people gasp and watching them cover their mouths and wipe their tears as they stand wide-eyed, gaping at this Christ—this wonderful messenger sent from God—being nailed to the cross. It is a stunning sight.

Why do most of us no longer respond that way? Because the good news is old news to us. It is not fresh. Ask God to give you a renewed sense of the terrible suffering of Jesus and the overflowing love and joy that is at the heart of the gospel. FULL POST

Posted 11/24/14 at 9:23 AM | Children's Bible Hour

Filters

Stephanie clapped a hand over her mouth. She had said a word she knew she should never use. "Oops! I'm sorry, Mom," she said when she saw her mother's stern look. "I didn't mean to say that. It just slipped out, probably because I hear it so much at school." Stephanie shrugged. "I don't really know what I can do about that, do you?" She watched as Mom put a white paper into the basket of the coffee pot. "What's that thing for?" asked Stephanie.

Photo: Gary & Anna Sattler - CC

"This is a filter," said Mom. She began to spoon coffee grounds into the basket. "The filter lets the water through but keeps the coffee grounds from going into the coffee." She plugged the coffee pot into the outlet.

"That filter is a pretty good example of what you need to do to keep from hearing bad words," Mom added. "You need to learn to filter out all the bad things you hear and see. Just because you see someone do something wrong, you don't have to do it, too. And just because you hear bad words, you don't have to say them. Filter out the bad and keep the best!" FULL POST

Posted 11/23/14 at 11:29 PM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Who Invited Them?

When I was a boy growing up in northeast Alabama, folks treated the passing of a loved one much differently from how we do these days. By the time I came along visitation with the family, for the most part, had moved to funeral homes. Prior to this many people took their loved one’s body back home where they received guests for at least a couple of nights. I’m not sure why, but someone usually sat up all night with the dearly departed. I am sure why friends, neighbors, and church members brought in food for the family – lots of good homemade food. The funeral service was then held at a church or simply at the graveside.

A few years later we moved everything to funeral homes. Funeral home owners built chapels and some families elected to hold memorials or funeral services there. In those early years (at least on Sand Mountain) most of the practices that had been performed in homes simply moved to funeral homes. That included sitting up all night, two nights of visitation, and bringing in food. Some funeral homes had a dining room, and some even had a kitchen, where friends brought in food for the family members. A couple of brothers in my hometown, whom I’ll refer to as the Bryant brothers, frequented the town’s funeral home. You might have thought these ole country boys were related to everybody that died. They did not necessarily attend the funeral services but they regularly ate in the back room with the bereaved. You see, the Bryant brothers had never married. They didn’t have anyone at home to cook for them. Evidently, they couldn’t cook for themselves or if they could they didn’t care much for their own cooking. Some people called the brothers “Buzzard Baptist.” They explained that they were Baptist and they circled the funeral home waiting for someone to die. I’m not sure why the funeral home owner allowed the Bryant brothers to eat with all those families but to my knowledge he never discouraged them from such. Our town was small so everybody knew the brothers and expected their presence. Most folks didn’t seem to mind. FULL POST

Posted 11/22/14 at 9:41 PM | Anna Diehl

Why does God take so long to fulfill His promises?

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. How many nights did Abraham spend gazing up at the sky in hopeful anticipation? Descendants were a big deal in his culture. Knowing your bloodline would continue on long and strong was a very comforting and encouraging thought. But like any human, Abraham naturally wanted to see some evidence of that promise coming true. Obviously a man can’t bear a thousand sons in his sunset years, but just one Isaac? And then Isaac went and married a barren woman while his exiled brother Ishmael had twelve sons off in a distant land. Things aren’t looking good for the promised line.

In Genesis 25:21, we see Isaac pleading with God to cure his wife’s barrenness. Another disturbing passage. Since when do we have to beg God to keep His promises? We don’t, but the reality is that God takes so long to get going that we often feel like He forgot what He’s supposed to do. God answers Isaac and Rebecca has twins. Well, at least now we’re getting somewhere. Here come Jacob and Esau, but now God narrows things down again and says it’s Jacob that the promised descendants will come through. So much for being able to count Esau. So far we’ve only got two little stars twinkling in that huge night sky: Isaac and Jacob. By now Abraham is dead and buried. He never lives long enough to see Jacob (aka Israel) have the twelve sons which will become the ancestors of Israel’s twelve tribes. Twelve great-grandsons would have been a very encouraging sight for Abraham to behold, yet he didn’t even get to see his grandsons Jacob and Esau. He probably died suspecting that his son’s wife was as barren as Sarah had been and secretly wondering if God was ever going to follow through on that starry promise. Yes, he believed and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. But no faith is immune to doubting. Abraham was as human as the rest of us. FULL POST

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