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Posted 7/30/14 at 9:54 AM | Justin Buzzard

God Changes us From the Outside In

Girl watches the sunset.
Photo: Pixabay/Unsplash - Creative Commons

We talk about God changing people “from the inside out.” This is an accurate, biblical way to speak.

God is not interested in external moral conformity. God goes after the human heart, the transformation of the total person. Deep sanctification, deep change, happens as the Holy Spirit transforms our heart (our inside), which then transforms our outside.

However, I think we should also talk about God changing people “from the outside in.” This is also an accurate, biblical way to speak.

The gospel, God’s sovereign grace, comes from outside of us, not inside of us. And, often, God’s greatest means of sculpting us is our circumstances. Circumstances stand outside of us. God sends circumstances into our lives, circumstances full of sharp edges, that prune us into the people God calls us to be. FULL POST

Posted 7/30/14 at 8:49 AM | Children's Bible Hour


mousetrap with cheese
Photo: Flickr/Rennett Stowe - Creative Commons

Grace shuddered as she watched her father put cheese on the mouse trap. "I hate to think of that trap snapping down on a poor little mouse," she told Dad.

"Well, how do you feel about mice living in the house?" Dad asked.

Grace wrinkled her nose. "Ugh-h-h!" she said, and she changed the subject. "Can I go roller skating with Ellen tonight, Dad? They're going to Colewell, and she asked if I could go, too."

Dad hesitated. "Honey, I'd like to say yes," he replied, "but I'm afraid I'll have to say no. We've heard that things sometimes get pretty wild at that rink, so we'd rather you didn't go there."

"Da-a-ad! You never let me do anything!" stormed Grace. "What's wrong with going skating?"

"Nothing that I know of," said Dad. He held up the mouse trap and pointed to the cheese he had put in it. "What's wrong with this cheese?" he asked. FULL POST

Posted 7/29/14 at 12:40 PM | Joel Osteen

Let the Doors Close

Photo: Flickr/Andrew_Writer - Creative Commons

One time, I was walking through a government building. There were two sets of double doors about fifteen feet apart. They were both automatic doors. When you walked through the first set of doors, you had to let them totally close before the next set of doors would open. As long as I stayed at that first set of doors, the second set would not open.

It's the same principle in life. If you're sitting around nursing your wounds, feeling sorry for yourself, you're not going to see anything new. You've got to let those doors totally close. Let go of the disappointments. Let go of the failures. You cannot change the past, but you can change the future. If you'll move forward, you'll see the new things God has for you.

The Scripture says that "God will give you beauty for ashes." Here's the key; you have to let go of the ashes before you can receive the beauty. Ashes represent our broken dreams, failures, disappointments and hurts. We all have our share of ashes. As long as you're holding onto the ashes, thinking about the disappointment, mad at somebody, bitter at the past, then you won't receive the beauty. An exchange has to take place. It's an act of faith to say, "God, I'm forgiving this person who hurt me." Or, "I lost my biggest client, but I'm not going to have a chip on my shoulder." "My friend betrayed me, but I'm going to keep a good attitude." That's when God can give you the beauty. FULL POST

Posted 7/29/14 at 9:36 AM | Children's Bible Hour

The Donkey's Tail

Photo: Flickr/Steve Winton - Creative Commons

This party is fun! thought Jack, wiggling impatiently as his Sunday school teacher tied a blindfold over his eyes. A big picture of a donkey without a tail was tacked on the wall, and it was Jack's turn to be blindfolded and turned around a few times before walking to the donkey and attaching a tail. This will be easy, he thought. He had noticed that the donkey was just a little to his left and about as high as his shoulders. I'll win the prize for getting the tail closest to where it should be.

When he was ready, Jack took a few wobbly steps, reached out and . . . there! It was done. He snatched off his blindfold and couldn't believe his eyes. There stood the donkey with a tail growing right out of its nose! Jack joined in the laughter as Mrs. Gates blindfolded another boy who was ready to try. FULL POST

Posted 7/28/14 at 8:34 PM | Barry Bowen

This Little Light of Mine

North and South America at night.

This satellite photo shows the lights of the western hemisphere at night. Lights from the largest cities are visible from space.

Jesus told his followers, "You are the light of the world." What if satellites could photograph this spiritual "light"? What if we could see from a simple photo where Christians are most engaged in evangelism and worship, bringing glory to God?

When I was a child, I learned the song This Little Light of Mine by Harry Loes.

This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine

All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm going to let it shine

Don't let Satan blow it out!
I'm going to let it shine FULL POST

Posted 7/28/14 at 2:47 PM | Victoria Osteen

By Shining Brightly We Help People to See

dim light bulb
Photo: Jan-Erik Finnberg - Creative Commons
"So many times we act like a dimmer switch that dims a light, and we dim ourselves because of other people."

God chose you before the foundation of the world because you are valuable to Him. He chose you because He knows your worth, and He's not willing to let you perish!

The other day, I was thinking about this, and I came up with an analogy. I was thinking about my relationship with my husband and how much I love him. I think he's so awesome. When I think about all of his great qualities: his integrity, his honesty, and his heart to serve God, I realize, "Wow! I must be pretty special that he chose me for His wife." I think, "He could have chosen anyone, but he chose me!"

How much more special are you because God has chosen you!? He looked down through the portals of time and said, "I want you! I want you because I love you and want you to represent Me and be the light of the world." He wants you to shine with His love like a young bride shines when she thinks of her husband. FULL POST

Posted 7/28/14 at 9:22 AM | Tim Challies

When God Loves Me Too Much

card says love
Photo: Flickr/Jennifer Donley - Creative Commons

I saw it the other day. I saw that thing I want, that thing I am sure I need, that thing that holds the key to my happiness. With it I will be complete. Without it I will always be lacking.

And there it was, right before me. I saw it. I longed for it. I felt that longing, that desire, in my chest, or was it my stomach? Did my heart really skip a beat? There it was, so close, but it wasn’t mine. It was there, yet just out of reach.

In that very moment the thought flashed through my mind: If God really loved me, he would give it to me. God doesn’t love me enough to let me have it. And in the wake of the thought, a question: What can I do to make him love me enough? What can I do to make him love me enough to give it to me?

The insanity lasted all of a minute. Probably not even a minute. And then I knew. It’s not that God loves me too little to give it to me. He loves me too much. He loves me too much to give me that thing I am convinced I need. He loves me too much to give me something that will compete with him. He loves me too much to give me anything I may love more than I love him. FULL POST

Posted 7/28/14 at 9:08 AM | Children's Bible Hour

Higher Ways

Photo: Flickr/Tony Fischer - Creative Commons

A cold wind whipped through the cemetery and stung Colin's face. He tried to listen as the minister read from the Bible. I wonder if Grandpa went to heaven, he thought for the hundredth time in the last few days. On the way home, Colin finally asked the question that lay heavy on his heart: "Did Grandpa go to heaven, Dad?"

Dad looked sober. "We believe so," he replied. "You probably remember that Grandpa didn't show much interest when I talked to him about God." Colin felt empty inside when he heard this, but Dad was still talking. "But Grandpa died on his knees beside his bed," Dad added. "He was apparently talking to God."

Mom spoke in her gentle voice. "Just the day before that, I spent some extra time praying that he would receive Jesus as his Savior, and then I went to his room and told him again how he could have his sins forgiven and be saved. We can't be sure, but we believe Grandpa did put his trust in Jesus just before he died." FULL POST

Posted 7/28/14 at 12:32 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Seasoning the Seasons

We are told that we, as Christians, are to be the salt of the earth. We are, therefore, to season our world, add flavor by spicing it with the love of God. The root of season is the Anglo-French season, to bring to a desired state. The same “desired state” became our calendar season, with the root meaning “an appropriate time,” from the Latin serere, “to sow.”

So to sow – that is plant seeds in the ground -led to the season of planting, and from there to the other growing seasons, for man’s living off the bounty of the earth will always be of primary importance to his life on earth.

As Christian writers we plant seeds in the minds of our readers. We want to bring them to a desired state, one in which they sense God more fully, one in which they meet Christ. We want them to experience the full flavor, the deliciousness, the sweetness of life as a Christian. How do we do this?
Magdalene Mystery
We too must await the right season for God to plant the seeds, the ideas, the means, the time, in our own minds and hearts. These waiting times are fallow times, time to listen for his voice, and watch his world – his creatures, flora and fauna, noting the exquisite detail of his creation. We read his word, we pray with his Body the Church. We await the appropriate time, the season he chooses for us to, in turn, season our readers with his own life. FULL POST

Posted 7/27/14 at 7:19 PM | Children's Bible Hour

Where's Jenna?

Photo: Flickr/Shawn Rossi - Creative Commons
Child playing hide and seek.

"Where is Jenna?" called Claire in a sing song voice as she played with her baby sister one day. "Where is Jenna hiding?"

Jenna peeked through the chubby little fingers she was holding in front of her face. Suddenly she dropped her hand. "There she is!" exclaimed Claire. "There's Jenna!"

The baby squealed in delight and promptly placed her fingers back over her eyes, ready to play the game again. Claire laughed, too. "You really think you're hiding from me, don't you?" she said. "Babies are silly, aren't they, Mom?"

"Sometimes," agreed Mom with a smile. "They're almost as silly as adults who try to hide."

"Adults? What adults?" Claire asked. "You mean like those who try to hide from the police? Or I guess maybe some even want to hide from each other now and then. But they don't try to hide by covering their faces with their hands." FULL POST

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