Golden Apples

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
Proverbs 25:11

Check out this apple dipped in silver.

What’s this silver covering up? Why the need for this fancy dressing? What’s lurking beneath? You remove the silver peeling, and what’s revealed beneath is only more pure goodness; a golden apple.

Are your words dipped in silver? On the surface, are they appealing to the listener? What about the meaning behind the words, the true essence of your message? Do your words reflect a heart of gold, or have you mastered the world’s craftiness of a silver tongue disguising poison apples?

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Five Challenging Things To Do

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Five instructions. None of them easy.

Watch. Sometimes it’s hard to be still and watch, because we want to “do” and “say” and “fix” and seize control of our lives. We watch for the Lord.

Stand fast in the faith. We mustn’t waiver. We cannot hedge or dodge. We stand firm, not because of self-confidence, but because of a steady confidence in God.

Be brave. In the face of danger and loss, we let our love and loyalty to God overcome our fleshly desire to run and hide.

Be strong. The path of least resistance is the path of destruction; it’s the path the enemy leads you down so he can attack you when you’re most vulnerable.

Do it all in love. I must check my motives in all that I do and take care to love God and love others with my very life.

Making Distinctions

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.
Romans 12:16

Imagine you just moved into your community, and you’re attending your church for the first time. In your mind’s eye, see the people who attend your church as they make their way down the aisles and select their seats. Study each person’s features, examine their outfits, and take note of the way they talk and how they act. If you were this newcomer in the crowd, to whom would you gravitate? Who would you want to be friends with, and why?

Every TV commercial and magazine ad emphasizes that who you are is determined by what you wear and what you own. Don’t like yourself? The world encourages you to buy a new image. These false messages are so prevalent that you may start to believe the lies yourself.

Paul teaches not to set your mind on high things—bowing to status symbols or making life a popularity contest—but to associate with the humble. Paul is not dictating that you befriend only the people who don’t own expensive things, but he is calling attention to the criterion you use to select your associations. Just as God offers His love to each person freely and equally, God is calling you to look beyond a person’s physical appearance and possessions to connect with the person inside.

Now imagine you’re walking down a crowded street, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of an unfamiliar city. People are mingling in their crowds of distinction – the wealthy socialites, the clean-cut business crowd, the trendy coffee-drinkers, and the weary homeless. God urges your heart to share Christ with a stranger. Whom will you choose? Will you shy away from those wealthier than you, fearing their status? Will you avoid the homeless, fearing their neediness? The human eye sees individuals who are different on the surface, but the spiritual eye sees no differences among these souls, all equally lost, equally in need of the good news of a Savior, who died for all.

– From A Passion for Purpose 

Enemies of Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.
Psalm 51:12-13

Robbers are after a precious jewel—your joy. They know their thievery will blur your focus on serving the Lord; they know that Christians who aren’t joyful are ineffective. Guard your heart against these enemies of joy.

– The Blahs. Are you in a spiritual rut? Are you excited about what new thing God will bring to your life, or are you expecting nothing more than business as usual? “Look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you” (Ezekiel 40:4).

– Self-absorption. Whether it’s a painful loss, an emotionally-trying relationship, or even something as wonderful as redecorating the living room, we sometimes fall into the trap of turning our focus inward instead of looking outward for the needs of others. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

– Anger. Anger and joy repel one another. When anger enters your heart, joy finds the nearest exit. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm  (Psalm 37:8).

– A Critical Spirit. Have you assumed the role of Chief Critic in your church, home, or workplace? Those who are looking for flaws in others are usually able to find what they’re looking for, all at the expense of a light heart and joyful spirit. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2).

Let this be a day when you overflow with the joy of your salvation. Your spiritual joy will nourish your soul until you cannot help but tell others about the wonderful Savior, leading people to Jesus Christ. Let’s get excited about the salvation of the Lord!

from A Passion for Purpose 

There Is No One Like God

“Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure.'”
(Isaiah 46:9-10)

The earth is spinning round and round, and our minds cannot keep pace with the ever-changing world. Our nations go from one regime to another. Our planet goes from one catastrophe to another. Our families go from one generation to another. We cannot tell where one cycle ends and another begins, but God…but GOD is not bound by time and space. He is above this finite world because He is the infinite One. He declares the beginning and the end, and He Himself is the Alpha and Omega.

Don’t suffer needlessly, trying to figure out all the doings of this world. Put your energies into knowing the one true God, and worship Him. Rest in His sovereignty.

Grow Like Jesus

It’s hard to imagine, but Jesus was once a little boy.

As Jesus progressed from boyhood to manhood, He grew. He outgrew His clothes. He outgrew His sandals. The day came when He could sit in a chair and His feet finally touched the ground. Success!

But Jesus not only grew in stature, but also in wisdom, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).  His growth was balanced and well rounded. Jesus modeled for us what it means to grow.

As you walk with the Lord, you’re also growing, but are you maintaining balance? It’s possible to grow in wisdom, but not grow in favor with your fellow man because of arrogance or anger. It’s possible to grow in favor with mankind but not with God, choosing to be faithful to friends but often neglecting the Savior.

How are you growing in wisdom?

How are you growing in physical strength?

How are you growing in favor with God?

How are you growing in favor with men?

Prepare To Be Unshaken

Lies are in Satan’s arsenal, and deception is his game. He throws around half-truths as well as whopping lies, and he knows we’ll weaken if we doubt what God has said. It worked for him in the garden when he deceived Adam and Eve. He slithered, “Did God really say…?”, and the next thing we know, Adam and Eve both had a mouthful.

What Satan began in the beginning, he continues today. He attacked the early Christians with deception. Paul had to write a letter to the Christians in Thessalonica because they had become “shaken in mind” with spreading lies that Jesus had already come and not received them (2 Thess. 2:1-3). As time marches on, Satan’s deceptions will only heighten, and your mind will be challenged. Your faith will not waiver and your mind will be unshaken if you’re sure of what you know about who God is and what He has promised.

Prepare for the difficult days ahead, and hold fast to the truth.

– from Lost on a Familiar Road 

All Eyes on Jesus

To seek one’s own glory is not glory. (Proverbs 25:27)

Glory is not to be seized. It is granted by God, who has plainly explained His methods: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10). Today, look for one instance when you feel tempted to draw attention to yourself; say a prayer, think fast, and turn the situation to bring glory to God. Invite the world to a breath-taking view: all eyes on Jesus.

 

Finding Fault Where You Least Expect It

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)

In relationships, one of our strongest abilities is often paired with one of our weakest flaws. When we enter a disagreement, we are keenly aware of our opponent’s sin, but we tend to be unaware of our own sin. Pray! Ask God to give you a humble spirit to search out your own fault in the matter, being quick to ask both God and your opponent for forgiveness. 

If you’re hoping to be your own guilt monitor, you’ll overestimate your innocence every time.

Feeling Like a Misfit

If any man ever had the potential for an identity crisis, it was Moses. He was taken from his Hebrew home as a young child and raised by the Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter. His roots were among the Israelite slaves who called out to Jehovah God, but his formative years were spent as an adopted child of the Egyptian aristocracy who worshipped gods made with man’s hands. Was Moses a noble or a slave? Was he a rich man or a poor man? Was he an oppressor or a member of the oppressed? His dual identities clashed one day when he saw an Egyptian task master beating a Hebrew slave, and in a fit of rage Moses killed the Egyptian. His conflicted feelings must have only deepened when the Hebrew slaves showed contempt for him after his murderous act, and then Pharaoh also rejected him and sought to take his life.

Moses fled to a new land, found a wife, and created a new life for himself. Now he was simply Moses: husband, father, and shepherd. He was content with these titles.

But God had other plans. God appeared to Moses and asked him to face his past and return to the place where he would once again have to face the conflict of his identity. Moses bulked at first, asking, “Who am I that I should go?” (Exodus 3:11).

Ever feel like you don’t fit? Moses’ checkered background made him perfectly suited to return to Egypt and be a hero for Israel. God hasn’t made mistakes in your life either, and He wants to use your life story for His glory. Who are you that you should go? You are the child of God.