Pride – Daily Inspiration, June 21, 2012

“For wisdom will enter your heart,and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:10-11

The June 21, 2010 Our Daily Bread devotional centers on wisdom and discernment. The suggested reading for the devotional is Proverbs 2: 6-20. This chapter in Proverbs exhorts us to pray for and develop wisdom and discernment in our lives. After reading the selection in my Life Application Study Bible, I reviewed the notes that clarify certain verses. In the notes for vv 16-17, the Life Application Bible defines what an adulteress is and explains that two of the most difficult sins to overcome is pride and sexual immorality.

One sentence in the clarifying notes on these verses, stood out to me: Pride appeals to the empty head; sexual enticement to the empty heart. The statement about pride convicted me. One definition of pride is a a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit or superiority whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. In one of my previous postings, I shared my current employment situation. Despite management’s attempts to make me comfortable and include me in decision-making, I have held on to the feeling that they are doing so with ulterior motives. I have been feeling that I deserve more for the time I have given them these past years. I have been distrusting because of my past experiences with corporate takeovers and layoffs. I have written and re-written my resignation letter. Long story short, I have been making myself miserable. My position may very well end; but being bitter won’t change it. In fact, my bitterness and pride may very well be keeping me from my blessings. I need to stop leaning to my own understanding and pray for wisdom and discernment. And stop being so empty-headed!

Is there an area of your life where you, too, are being empty-headed? Take a moment to pray over your situation. Our understanding is limited, God’s vision is everlasting. Don’t let your pride keep you from God’s blessings.

May the Lord continue to watch over you and keep you.

Faith Without Deeds – Daily Inspiration, June 20, 2012

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James 2:14

Do you live your life in a way that reflects your in faith in Christ? Do you believe in Him, yet don’t imitate his ways?

It is not enough to only believe, but your works should reflect that belief. As James 2 further states: “You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder (v 19)”. Yes, even demons know who Jesus is, but they do not obey Him. Conversely, deeds without faith are just as pointless. Faith and deeds should work together in our lives because our deeds are a reflection of our faith. If you are easily angered, show indifference to your neighbor and possess an unforgiving heart but profess an undying faith in Christ, your deeds are not a reflection of your faith. Christ is forgiving, loving and accepting to all, regardless of race, creed or social background. We, as His followers, should be, too. Honestly examine yourself today. Do you talk a good talk? Or, are you walking the walk?

God bless you today and always.

Daily Inspiration, June 19, 2012

“I know You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2

Bad things happen, and when they happen it can be a real test of one’s faith. During those times we can’t help but wonder why. Or, more specifically, “Why me?”

Although His plans are often not clear to us, God is and always will be in control. Whereas our vision is limited, His is limitless. We are confined by time, He is not. Trust God during your difficult seasons. Don’t let what you don’t understand keep you from trusting Him.

God bless you today and always.

Daily Inspiration, June 18, 2012

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

Very few people access the Internet to read Christian devotionals. Most people, when given the choice between the Word or gossip, would choose gossip as the way to start the day. Just as if given the choice to read the Bible or watch Internet pornography, most would choose pornography. Most people think the Bible is too judgmental and has too many antiquated rules. Some feel it is merely a collection of ancient folktales that have no bearing on today’s society.

We, who study the Word and meditate on it, know this is not true. Our love of God and our knowledge of his precepts propels us to share what we know with others. In doing this, we often engage in conversations with non-believers. While we should spread the Word, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to stay in situations that may jeopardize our belief. The non-believer will attempt to poke holes in every statement we make. If we converse with them long enough, we may find ourselves questioning why we believe. In these instances, I am often reminded of the mustard seed. If faith the size of a mustard seed is all that is needed to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20), then doubt the size of a mustard seed may be enough to destroy all the Lord has built inside us. No, we should follow the Lord’s instruction when encountering others who reject the Word: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town” Matthew 10:14. Shaking the dust from your sandals represents separating yourself from those who steadfastly reject Christ.

Because of free will, we cannot make non-believers accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment to know what to teach and to whom so that we do not become weary in our walk.

May the Lord be with you today.

Daily Inspiration, June 17, 2012

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6

A father’s role is important in the family. He is seen as a source of strength, a protector, a provider, a leader and an example. An example for his son of how to conduct himself as a man. An example to his daughter of how a man should conduct himself. Not everyone has had that physical example in their lives, but everyone has the opportunity to experience a spiritual example in our heavenly Father. He is the only perfect Father and our ultimate source of strength. Through His Word, He gives us wise counsel of how to lead our lives with honor, respect, contentment and inner peace. To those who have had a strong father, realize and understanding the blessing you were given. To those who have not, know that you have a Father who has never left you and loves you unconditionally.

Happy Father’s Day to all men who have selflessly and graciously taken on the awesome responsibility of being a loving physical presence in the lives of your children, whether they are your biological offspring or ones you have adopted in your heart.

May the Lord’s blessings rain upon you this day and always.

Daily Inspiration, June 16, 2012

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him; before Him I tell my trouble.” Psalm 142:1-2

Yesterday was a very trying day. I broke off part of a molar while chewing ice chips. I was already on edge and, well, that sent me over. In the past two years I have been involved in a serious car accident, had to undergo lumbar surgery and fought a protracted battle against the city’s miscalculation of my property taxes. I have also been dealing with the numbing fact that my employer is moving all of my job duties to representatives in another city and state. In fact, I am the only person left aboard the sinking ship; my (now former) manager’s last day was yesterday.

So, thankfully, I was alone as I sat at my desk and had one heck of a pity party. The broken tooth just seemed like the last straw. All I wanted to do was go home, hug my pillow and cry it all out. I couldn’t do that, though. There was still a lot of work to do plus I had promised my brother I would attend his birthday celebration. In the midst of my despair, I prayed to the Lord: “I know it can be much worse. Despite it all, I know you are in control, Lord. Please continue to be with me and guide me.”

I was exhausted by the time I made it to my brother’s party. Feeling sorry for yourself takes a lot out of you. I sat wearily, wishing time would speed by. But, then, something amazing happened. My stress level slowly eased; first as my nieces greeted me with warm hugs then at the sight of my sister-in-law’s bright smile at my arrival. My brother’s fun-loving friends moved about the room, cracking jokes and making everyone laugh, including lil’ ole sourpuss me. Then, there was my brother, clearly moved by the turnout and being surrounded by his loved ones. By the time the party ended, I had forgotten all about my “troubles”.

When you feel you’ve reached the end of your rope, know the Lord is there keeping you steady. Release your troubles to Him. He will turn your sadness into joy!

Daily Inspiration, June 15, 2012

“All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15

In his book, Every Day a Friday: How To Be Happier 7 Days a Week, popular Houston pastor Joel Osteen cites a study that concluded happiness increases 10 percent on Fridays. Most people have decided in their hearts that they will be happy on Fridays due to the excitement of the upcoming weekend. There is nothing wrong with deciding to be happy on Fridays. In fact, we should challenge ourselves to be happy every day.

For some people, a cheerful heart comes naturally but for others it is struggle. Some of us have had more than our fair share of disappointments and heartache. Those setbacks can make it hard to be excited about each day; those setbacks can actually make one dread each day. Living in dread is not living; it is existing. Our Father wants us to live! When your thoughts drift to hurtful experiences, re-direct them to dwell on good things. This will take practice and time to perfect just as, over time, life’s disappointments manage to settle into hearts and develop negative attitudes. We were not born negative and unhappy which is a good indication that we are not meant to live negative and unhappy. Make the choice today, Friday, to live each day with anticipation, excitement and joy despite your past or your current circumstance.

May God’s blessings continue to rain upon you.

Daily Inspiration, June 14, 2012

“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.” Psalm 138:1

I once had a co-worker who, after hearing me speak of my faith, asked, “How can someone so intelligent believe that Jesus is the only Messiah? There are documents out there that point to other messiahs. How can you not count them?”

His question both shocked and saddened me. I was shocked because I never knew he had such deep-seated doubts about the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. It saddened me that those doubts prevented him from fully accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

We have free will. To believe in God and accept Jesus is a choice. I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to know other religious points of view. I do, however, think it is very damaging for Christians to allow those other points of view to cloud our vision or impede our Christian walk.

I didn’t stop being friendly with he co-worker and stood firm in my faith each time he attempted to “enlighten” me. I respected his right to reject Jesus as the One and True Savior but I did not follow his example. Eventually, the Lord caused us to part ways. I’ve thought of that co-worker from time to time, wondering why our paths crossed. Perhaps, we needed each other spiritually; maybe he needed to meet someone resolute in faith and maybe I needed to meet someone to re-affirm my faith.

May the Lord guide your steps today.

Daily Inspiration, June 13, 2012

“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This can seem extremely difficult, especially in our stressful, hustle and bustle society. Take a moment today to focus less on what is wrong with your life and be joyful for what is right. Don’t think you have anything to be joyful about? Well, you do have one thing – you are alive, which is a tremendous gift. If you don’t agree, just watch your local news and tally the number who cannot make this claim this morning. Don’t have time to pray? Turn your morning shower into a prayer session. Prayer doesn’t have to be long and formalized. The 5 -10 minutes you spend sudsing can also be valuable time to spend with God. Don’t know what to say? Speak from your heart. Stuck in traffic on your way to work? Thank God you have a vehicle to be stuck in, whether you are fortunate enough to own a car or blessed enough to have bus or cab fare.

God Bless you this day and everyday.

Daily Inspiration, June 12, 2012

“The heavens are Yours and Yours also the earth; You founded the world and all that is in it.” Psalm 89:11

I’ve traveled by train through America’s rural heartland and marveled at how the landscape changes from green to amber fields. I watched farmers tend to crops and waved back at their smiling children as they ran alongside the tracks, excited by a daily occurrence that had not yet become tiresome and commonplace.

I’ve traveled by plane across America. I am always struck by the beauty of the heavens as we slice through the blue sky and fluffy clouds. I am further amazed by the sun’s brilliant red, yellow and orange hues whenever we ascend higher to avoid turbulence. This is a peaceful world, and I respect its majesty.

I’ve traveled by ship across the deep blue waters of the Caribbean. I enjoyed the dolphins and flying fish vying for my attention. When we docked, I found shade under towering fruit and spice trees and enjoyed the hospitality of locals who were kind and tolerant to tourists unaccustomed to such sights as white sandy beaches and lush green forests.

Finally, I have traveled by car. Admittedly, I have been less than thrilled by the traffic, exhaust and congestion. But I have been touched by lovers stealing kisses at a red light, a young man ensuring an older woman safely crosses an intersection and friends and families laughing with one another in the cars next to me.

Yes, there is a lot of wrong going on the world, but there is also a lot of right. I guess it’s all in the way you choose to view it.