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Posted 1/23/15 at 6:47 PM | Anna Diehl

The Mechanics of Spiritual Growth: Four Essential Attitudes

God loves you and He wants a close relationship with you. Your life is not a series of random events, but a carefully directed sequence of experiences which are all designed by God with the specific goal of strengthening your personal bond with Him. Once you understand this, you learn to start viewing your life as the very personal interaction between you and God that it is. You aren’t going through motions on earth while He’s off in Heaven barely noticing you. God is with you in life, and He is intimately involved in every aspect of your existence. You are never alone. You are never acting independently of Him. He is ALWAYS involved. Imagine what it would be like to have a human friend going with you absolutely everywhere. No matter what you were doing—eating, working, sleeping, showering, driving, thinking—this person was never more than six inches away from you. If you really had someone sticking this close to you in life, you’d naturally talk to them a lot. It would feel weird to ignore them because they were always in your face. Well, this is how it is with you and God: He is ALWAYS with you. In the bathroom, at the office, in the park, in the car, in bed—He is there. He is always focused on you, always listening to you, and constantly interacting with your soul. The only reason you forget about Him is because you can’t detect His Presence in a sensual way. But this doesn’t change the reality that He is always right there. FULL POST

Posted 1/19/15 at 10:37 PM | June Samuel

God's Wisdom and Knowledge

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:33 When we think of riches, we think of money, mansions, luxurious vehicles and on and on. This verse is telling us that God has riches of wisdom and knowledge. The depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and God’s knowledge is so deep, no human being can fathom it. God's wisdom and knowledge is seen in His creation and judgments. We cannot search out God’s judgments. We should not even try.

 When we see an unusual occurrence in a person’s life or in our own, the temptation is usually to analyze or explain the reason for the event. God’s ways are vastly higher than ours. We should not even try to give a reason for any event in anyone’s life or in our own. The only reason we are exhorted to give - is the reason for the hope that is within us. 1 Peter 3:15 Do not try to analyze God’s ways. We will only end up committing sin.

 Isaiah 55:8 and 9 says: “ For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways, says the Lord.” Verse 9: “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,” (measureless?) “ so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” When God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king of Israel, Samuel looked at the first son and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him”. Eliab had the physical attractiveness that one would expect of a king. This is how we think. But God said no. “…….For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 FULL POST

Posted 1/16/15 at 11:44 AM | Victoria Osteen

Chosen for Something Extraordinary

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

If you are a born again believer, you have the spirit of God inside of you. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you! You are not ordinary; you are a child of the Most High God!

I think about Mary, the chosen mother of Jesus. She seemed ordinary to the people around her, but God chose her to do something extraordinary. He chose her to bring Jesus to the world and shine forth His glory!

Today, you and I have this same extraordinary purpose—to bring Jesus to the world and shine forth His glory! No matter where you are in the world, there are people around you who need what you have. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit inside when He prompts you to shine your light. Don't be afraid to reach out to others, to share a word of kindness or even a smile. Be your best for God. Be an example of His goodness. Be a peacemaker. Be quick to repent when you know you've made a mistake. Love people. You never know what is going on in another person's life when you encounter them. Loving hurting people is what's closest to the heart of God. FULL POST

Posted 1/16/15 at 11:35 AM | Joel Osteen

Set Your Expectations

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

A while back, I read about a study that was done with people who needed arthroscopic knee surgery. Their knees were worn down, and they needed the joint to be cleaned out. With permission from the family, a certain number of patients went in for surgery. But instead of actually performing the surgery, the doctors simply put the patients under anesthesia and made three tiny incisions around the knee but didn't actually do anything.

Of course, when the patient woke up, they thought they had the full surgery. What's interesting is that two years later, the patients who had the fake surgery reported just as much relief from the pain as the patients who had the actual surgery. And, it wasn't just in their minds. When the doctors examined the knees of the patients, they could see that there was, in fact, improvement. The doctors' conclusion was, "Since the brain expected the knee to get better, it got better. The expectation helped the body to heal." You could say those doctors tricked the patients into having a new vision for themselves, and just like gravity, they moved toward it. FULL POST

Posted 1/14/15 at 12:54 AM | Ramona Tucker

The Flexible Writer

I like to feel I’ve been “productive” when my husband and I come to the end of a day, have a cup of tea together, play Scrabble, and read. I want the productivity to include writing as well as chores. Sometimes I haven’t been as productive as I’d like.

You know, stuff happens. A blog needs more time before it goes up. A meeting takes longer. The amount of lint spilling from under the bed accumulates to where we’ll be making footprints before long.

Particularly with writing, when I’m into it, sometimes I need to continue past the time I’ve allowed. It grips me, the characters are clicking, and the plot problem is solved. When that happens? Unless I have a must do appointment or an emergency occurs, it’s time to chuck the schedule and write. The house is dirty, the weeds aren’t pulled, and dinner is thrown together from a few cans. Time to be flexible. FULL POST

Posted 1/13/15 at 3:37 PM | Children's Bible Hour

Pearls of Wisdom

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

Elise and Julia rummaged through a large jewelry box as they helped their grandmother sort things in preparation for a garage sale. "Look at this pretty necklace," Elise exclaimed. "Is it real gold, Grandma?"

Grandma rubbed her thumb gently over the shiny metal. Then she peered at her thumb. "No, honey," Grandma said. "This is just cheap jewelry."

"How do you know?" asked Julia. "It looks like gold."

Grandma held out her hand. "See the black that rubbed off on my thumb?" she asked. "Real gold wouldn't tarnish like this."

"Is this a diamond ring?" Julia asked.

Grandma took the ring and inspected it. "Well," she said, "I'm not really sure about this one. It's probably only cut glass, but I guess it could be a diamond."

"Then you should keep it," said Elise quickly.

"Elise! Grandma said it's probably fake," scoffed Julia. "Let's sell it."

"But she can't sell it at a garage sale if it might be a real diamond," protested Elise. FULL POST

Posted 1/13/15 at 2:55 PM | Victoria Osteen

Get Ready for the Extraordinary!

Photo: Flickr/Bart Everson - Creative Commons

The Bible is filled with extraordinary stories of God's faithfulness throughout all generations. There are so many amazing people whose lives are still speaking to us today because they dared to believe God—Moses, Joshua, Joseph, David, Paul and Mary. But have you thought about the fact that all of the great heroes of the Bible were just ordinary people—like you and me? The difference is that they opened their hearts to allow God to do something extraordinary in their lives.

I believe God wants to unleash the same favor and ability in us today that He did so long ago. In fact, the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He parted the Red Sea for the children of Israel, He'll make a way where there seems to be no way in your life today. If He fed a crowd of over 5,000 by multiplying a small boy's lunch, He'll multiply your resources so that there is abundance leftover today. If He healed a woman who had an issue of blood for 20 years, He can heal your body today. FULL POST

Posted 1/12/15 at 6:55 PM | Anna Diehl

Spiritual Warfare in the Church: Delusions vs. Truth

Have you been told that you have the gift of discernment? Do you sense the presence of demons more often and more clearly than other people? Do you believe you have a special ability to “see” into the spiritual realm? Have you been taught that your special abilities are indications that God has specially equipped you for battling demons? If so, you have been led to a very dangerous place. The way you currently perceive spiritual warfare and your own spiritual abilities is very detrimental to your soul. You are caught in a current of deceptions which are only going to carry you deeper and deeper into a land of delusions. You can’t grow close to God when you’re clinging to delusions, but the kinds of delusions you’re headed toward are extremely addictive lies. They will please your ego so much that you won’t want to let them go. Demons know how to make lies sound far more attractive than truth, and teaching you that you are some spirit kicking warrior is one of their favorite games to play. Now wait a second—are we saying that demons would encourage you to believe you are a threat to them? Oh, yes. That whole rebuking package that you’ve been sold—it comes straight from them. Demons love it when you start rebuking them in the Name of Jesus or better yet—chanting Bible verses. Maybe you’ve been sold the version in which you’re supposed to hold up some large cross to drive the evil spirits back. Or perhaps your spiritual mentors took you down the holy liquids road—teaching you to dab on some holy oil or holy water or holy something else as a physical shield against those powers of darkness. It’s all such a fantastic scam and you have been the victim. If you’re serious about wanting to know God and please Him with your life, there is a whole lot of relearning you need to do about the spiritual realms. We can get you there, but it isn’t going to be a pleasant ride because God’s truth is often very repulsive to our pride. But truth is truth, and trying to ignore it doesn’t change anything, it just ends up harming you. God will not adjust reality to suit your wishful thinking. If you want to please Him, you have to submit to His rules and align with His definition of truth. FULL POST

Posted 1/12/15 at 6:51 PM | Anna Diehl

How to Tell When God is Speaking to You Through Someone Else

How do you know when God is speaking to you through another person? How can you recognize His convictions from something they just made up? There are several guidelines to go by here.

1. Test every message.

Just because someone is godly or you’ve heard God speaking through them to you before doesn’t mean their current message is legit. Every message must be tested separately. It’s always the contents of the message we examine, not the source. God speaks to us through our friends and our enemies, through the saved and the unsaved, through the holy and the satanic. We have to be open to hearing Him through anything and anyone.

2. Wait for confirmation.

Learning to recognize God’s Voice takes time. With practice and coaching from Him, you’ll get very good at it. Once you’re good at it, you’ll usually be able to tell right away when God is speaking to you. But when you’re still learning the ropes, you need to give yourself time to pray and think. Don’t let people push you into making hasty judgments. Postpone them by saying, “Okay, I understand what you’ve said. I’m going to pray about it on my own.” Be extra guarded around anyone who tries to discourage you from getting your own confirmation from God. Suppose your pastor says to you, “Hey, you don’t need to pray about it. I’m your pastor. I’m telling you what God wants from you.” What are you going to say? Something like, “Step aside, pal, I’ve got just as much Holy Spirit as you do.” You DO have just as much God as the big shots at your church. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a lesser Christian or that God wouldn’t talk to you or that you need them to interpret God’s will for your life. These are absolute lies. God is MORE than enough for you. Even if you’re being intimidated by someone who always gets words from God and you never get words from God—don’t let them tell you that you’re spiritually inferior. Every Christian is precious to God and He talks to us all. FULL POST

Posted 1/12/15 at 6:43 PM | Anna Diehl

The Redemption of Judas

“…and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” (Matt. 10:4)

This is the first mention we have of Judas in the Gospel of Matthew. It doesn’t exactly have the ring of grace, does it? All four of the Gospel writers start right off by introducing Judas as a traitor. He is not just a man, he is a sin. We use this same kind of language today. “That’s John, the molester. That’s Maria, the prostitute.” It’s not very nice of us, is it? It’s hardly fair to identify only certain people by their sins while excusing ourselves. When you introduce yourself to people, do you point out one of your moral failings to them? Do you say, “Hi, I’m Susan, the gossip” or “I’m Bob, the grudge holder”? Not hardly. We prefer to keep our dirty laundry hidden from public view as much as possible. If we’ve messed up in the past, we don’t want to advertise it. But if someone else messes up, well then, out come the vicious labels. The four Gospel writers don’t even give us a chance to like Judas, or notice any of the good things that he does. From the moment we meet him, they make sure our minds are biased against him. Because of the way they introduce him, we spend the whole time waiting for him to mess up. We look for evidence of evil in him because he’s been labeled as evil. What’s worse than betraying Jesus, right? FULL POST

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