Grace—True As Ever
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. —Romans 8:28
I survived a crazy childhood, growing up in an alcoholic home, with my mom being married and divorced seven times. But I came to Christ in high school, at the age of seventeen, and turned my life over to the Lord.
The stats all say that if you come from a divorced home, you most likely will end up divorced yourself. But by God’s grace and against all odds, my wife and I are closing in on our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. So all in all, in spite of the heartbreaks in those early days, it has been a pretty happy story.
Lost Boy, the film that tells my life story, closes with our family walking down the street together, and it’s almost as though you could write the words on the screen: “And they lived happily ever after.”
I had been showing this film in various churches in different parts of the country, and I would speak afterward, telling the story of Joseph, how he faced many adverse circumstances in his life, and how God brought good results out of evil circumstances. Not that bad is good, but God can bring good out of bad and bring glory to His great name through it all.
And then came that morning in July 2008 when we got the terrible, incomprehensible news that our thirty-three-year-old son Christopher had been killed in a car crash on the freeway.
Good out of bad? The best results out of the worst circumstances? Was the message of Lost Boy still true, or was it all a sham?
Even in the depths of our grieving, we had to say the message of that movie hadn’t changed. The chronicle of God’s grace and faithfulness that we told in Lost Boy was as true as ever. We found ourselves in the midst of a life chapter we would have never, never chosen. But God still will bring good out of bad. He will bring glory to Himself. I hope you have a Simply Heavenly day! God bless you!!!
Where the Power Is
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. —1 Corinthians 1:18
I once asked Billy Graham, “If you had it to do it all over again, are there things you would have emphasized as a younger preacher that maybe you are emphasizing now?” His response surprised me.
Without any hesitation, he said, “The cross of Christ and the blood. That’s where the power is.”
I remembered that. I took note of it as a preacher: the cross of Christ and the blood. That is what he would emphasize more. That’s where the power is.
It comes down to the cross. Any accurate presentation of the gospel comes down to the cross. You can talk about loneliness, and you can talk about hope and life beyond the grave. But it all comes down to the cross.
Paul said, “Let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before… Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (1 Corinthians 15:1,3-4 NLT).
We need to remember this as Christians. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a theologian or the greatest intellect of all time. But you can tell the story of what Jesus did on the cross and how He died and shed His blood for us. There is power in that simple message. I have watched it transform people time and time again because God anoints it, blesses it, and He uses it to penetrate the defenses that people can put up.
Jesus died on the cross for us. That’s where the power is.
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. —Romans 5:2
Peace with God takes care of our past because He will no longer hold our sins against us. Access to God takes care of our present because we can come to Him at any time for the help we need. The hope of the glory of God takes care of the future because we are confident that one day we will share His glory.
When I was a kid, I went to Disneyland every birthday. I still remember to this day making a vow as a child in the backseat of the car that one day, when I became an adult and made my own money and had my own car, that I would go to Disneyland every single day.
A few years ago, someone gave me an annual pass to Disneyland. I could go any time I wanted, free of charge. Do you know how many times I used it? Not that many. It is a funny thing because I would even brag about it: “I can go to Disneyland anytime I want, free of charge.”
"Do you want to go right now?"
"I can’t go now. Maybe next week." I kept putting it off.
We can be that way when it comes to our access to the presence of God. As believers, we can go into God’s presence 24/7 — anytime we want. When is the last time you went?
God has opened this incredible door for us. But we have to walk through it. If you would like to have Jesus as your Savior I would love to pray with you.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:3-6
If you want a new life in Christ Jesus, ask Him into your heart today. Simply pray this: Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that You took the pain and the sins of world on the cross to give me new life. I ask You to come into my heart and to give me Your peace and joy. I confess that I am a sinner that I have gone my own way and have done wrong. Please forgive me for my sins. I receive You now as my Lord and Savior. Today I come home. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to follow You and to serve You all the days of my life. Thank you so much for loving me and forgiving me, in Jesus name I pray, Amen. If you prayed that prayer you are a new creature in Christ Jesus! You are Born Again!
I hope you have a Simply Heavenly day!!! God bless you!!!
It’s Already Yours Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. —Romans 5:5
Have you ever owned something that you didn’t use? Have you ever gone shopping for something, only to come home and find it in your closet already? I have done that. I get this idea that I need a blue shirt. I have in mind exactly what it should look like. Then I go shopping, come home, hang it up, and see that I already have that blue shirt. No wonder I had such a vivid idea of what it should look like.
This is how we can be as Christians. We are searching for things that are already hanging in our spiritual closet, so to speak. Many times we ask God for what He has already given us.
For example, we pray, “God, give me peace.” But the Bible says, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). God is saying, “Enjoy it to the fullest.”
We might say, “God, I need more love,” when actually we need to use the love God has given us. We are praying for more of an emotional feeling of the love that God already has given us. God won’t necessarily answer a prayer like that. When we love someone, when we forgive someone, it is an act of obedience, believing “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
God has given us everything we need for spiritual growth. Many of us simply need to read His Word to find out the balance in our spiritual bank account. And then we need to start appropriating it. Thank you Jesus!!! I hope you all have a Simply Heavenly day!!! God bless you!!! http://dlvr.it/6yDVHF
You Don’t Have to Work for It When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. —Romans 4:4–5
As a young Christian, I remember thinking that the reason God was blessing me was because of my disciplined Bible study. I would get up well before school every morning and study the Scripture for about an hour. Then I would pray for an hour or more (I know because I kept checking my watch). I could say to my friends, “While I was studying the Bible for an hour and praying for over an hour today, the Lord showed me… .” It gave me bragging rights. I thought that when I got to school, God would use me because I had done so much for Him. Look at how faithful I was! Look at how diligent I was! I was so proud.
Then one morning my alarm didn’t go off, and I woke up very late. I didn’t have time to pray or read my Bible … and it turned out to be one of the most blessed days of my life. God even allowed me the privilege of leading someone to Christ that day. I thought, What does this mean? Don’t read the Bible or pray? I think what God was trying to say to me was, “Greg, don’t do those things to seek My approval. Rather, do those things because you have My approval.”
It is not because of what we have done that we have God’s approval; it is because of what God has done for us. We put our faith in Him, and then God puts His righteousness into our account. He loves us when we do well, but He also loves us when we stumble.
This really touched my heart today!!! I hope that it touched yours as well!!! I hope you have a Simply Heavenly day!!! God bless you!!! http://dlvr.it/6xn1Nj
Take It to the Bank
We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort. —Philippians 1:3
A homeless man was standing on a street corner, asking for money, when a well-dressed attorney came walking by. The attorney looked at him and said, “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”
The man recognized the attorney and said, “Remember third-period English in high school?”
“You sat right next to me,” the attorney said. “What happened?”
“I just fell on hard times.”
The attorney said, “Don’t say another word.” He pulled out his checkbook and wrote out a check for $500. Then he said, “I want to help you out. Take this money, get cleaned up, and get a new set of clothes. Don’t thank me. It’s the least I can do.” And off he went.
With the check in hand, the man made his way down to the bank where the attorney’s account was. But when he saw how nicely dressed the people were and how clean and tidy the bank was, he felt unworthy and didn’t go in.
The next day, the attorney was walking down the same street when he saw the same man asking for money. He said, “What are doing here?”The man said, “I felt ashamed. I didn’t feel worthy to go into the bank and cash your check.”
The attorney told him, “That check has my signature on it. You take that down and cash it. It’s not based on who you are. It is based on me. My signature is on it, and it is good. Cash it.”
That is what God has done for us in justification. God’s grace has been extended to us. We are wrong when we think we have to do something to somehow earn it. I really enjoyed this devotion from Pastor Greg. I hope that you did as well! Have a Simply Heavenly day!!!
Innovation, Part Two
by Charles R. Swindoll
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Yesterday, we talked about innovative people, and I mentioned that there are a whole lot more innovative people around than any of us can imagine. Could you be one of them?
Let’s take a little test and see. I have Earl Nightingale to thank for this list of twenty-five traits generally found in creative, innovative people. No, relax. You don’t need all twenty-five … but if you have most of them, you may be closer than you think.
Drive—-a high degree of motivation
Courage—-tenacity and persistence
Goals—-a sense of direction
Knowledge—-and a thirst for it
Chance taking—-willingness to risk failure
Enterprise—-willing to tackle tough jobs
Persuasion—-ability to sell
Outgoingness—-friendlyPatient yet impatient—-patient with others, yet impatient with the status quo
Adaptability—-capable of change
Perfectionism—-seek to achieve excellence
Humor—-ability to laugh at self and others
Versatility—-broad interests and skills
Curiosity—-interested in people and things
Individualism—-self-esteem and self-sufficiency
Realism/idealism—-occupied by reality but guided by ideals
Imagination—-seeking new ideas, combinations, and relationships
Okay, that’s enough. I told you creative thinking was hard work! But there is something even harder … and that’s change. It’s admitting the need, being honest and humble enough to face the facts, then secure enough to consider new ideas, methods, or devices, to pull it off. Swallowing our pride shouldn’t be that difficult, since that’s what we eat all day.
Go ahead and give it a whirl. Take one of those many things that keeps dragging you under and search for a creative way to solve the problem. And don’t quit until it’s done … and that smile of relief returns to your face.
I know you can do it! You did it before and it worked. And that problem was so huge you could hardly continue. Then came the change … the most important decision you ever made based on the most innovative combination ever devised. A man. A cross. Blood. And belief.
God defines it: “The introduction of something new … a new birth.” I hope you all have a Simply Heavenly day!!! God bless you!!! http://dlvr.it/6wjlTv
TONIGHT I Pray that you experience true intimacy with God. I pray that that you “know” Him as never before and are consumed by His Spirit!!…I pray that all spirits of confusion to loose their hold on your life and you to be released from the hold of any evil strongman in the name of Jesus!! Let every tree planted by fear in your life dry up to the roots and every seed of bitterness, anger and resentment be released from your mind, heart and soul! I pray that His peace comes over you, your family and purpose! I pray that you are preserved and protected by His Power! Cast all your cares over to Jesus – for He cares for you. In Jesus name, Amen and Amen. God bless you!!!! ♥♥♥ http://dlvr.it/6wQFwp
Innovation, Part One
by Charles R. Swindoll
Contrast the Upright and the Wicked Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,But he who hates reproof is stupid. Proverbs 12:1
Webster defines it: “The introduction of something new … a new idea, method, or device.” When we innovate, we change, we flex. We approach the standard operating procedure, not like a soft-footed Native American scout sneaking up on a deer by the brook, but rather like Wild Bill Hickok in a saloon with both guns blazing.
It takes guts to innovate, because it requires creative thinking. Thinking is hard enough, but creative thinking—-ah, that’s work! To get the juices squirting, you have to be dissatisfied with the status quo.
Take photography, for example. For years, the same old procedure … which required long periods of delay. Nobody even thought about hurrying up the process. Not until a guy named Edwin Land formed a company with a funny name—-Polaroid.
Sometimes innovation is forced on us. Take December 7, 1941. We got caught with our military pants down. Before American planes could get airborne, or even out of the hangar, most of them were destroyed. We were forced to ask the obvious: “How can we get the planes out of the hangars fast?”
A fellow by the name of Mitchell solved the problem in a most innovative way. He simply turned the question upside down and asked the unobvious: “How can we get the hangar away from the planes—-fast?” The result (after the inevitable laughter and rejection) was a two-piece hangar. Each section was mounted on wheels with sufficient power to separate the two at thirty-five miles an hour … which enabled the fighter planes to take off in several different directions. Fast.
Now, you’re thinking: Land and Mitchell are geniuses. And you are ready to toss in Newton and Bell and Edison and Ford and the Wright brothers. And you’re also telling yourself that there aren’t many of those gifted people spread around. Granted, those men might very well qualify as geniuses … but if you ask them, they’ll tell you another story. J. C. Penney once observed, “Geniuses themselves don’t talk about the gift of genius; they just talk about hard work and long hours.” It’s the old one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration answer.
Let’s have four “greats” take the stand and testify. These are their actual words:
Michelangelo: “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery; it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”
Thomas Carlyle: “Genius is the capacity for taking infinite pains.”
Ignancy Jan Paderewski: “A genius? Perhaps, but before I was a genius I was a drudge.”
Alexander Hamilton: “All the genius I may have is merely the fruit of labor and thought.”
Are innovative people really that rare? Not if you listen to Sheldon David, TRW’s former vice president:
The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.
You know what that says to me? It says there are a whole lot more innovative people (who currently see themselves only as “drudges”) than any of us can imagine. In fact, you may very well be one of them!
We’ll look into that tomorrow. You might be surprised at what you discover. I hope you have a Simply Heavenly day!!! God bless you!!!
Gone for Good
He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. —Micah 7:19
Have you ever done anything you wished you hadn’t done and were ashamed of? If you have repented of that sin and have turned your back on it, then the Bible clearly declares that you are forgiven.
In speaking of our sins, God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). And Micah 7:19 tells us that God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
Have you ever lost anything in a lake or in the ocean? It’s pretty much a lost cause. Once it goes down, it goes way down.
Years ago I was scuba diving in Hawaii. As we started making our way out, it was about fifteen feet deep, then about twenty feet deep, then about seventy feet. We kept going, and the shelf of sand kept lowering and lowering. Then all of a sudden, it dropped straight down. I looked down and could not see the bottom. It was scary. I looked at that and hovered there for a minute. Although I wasn’t any deeper than I had been three minutes before, I turned around and started swimming back. I can guarantee that if you dropped something down to those depths, you would never see it again.
God has taken your sin and has thrown it into the deepest part of the sea. To put it another way, it is gone. Therefore, you need to accept God’s forgiveness and put it behind you. Do it now!!! Have a Simply Heavenly day!!! God bless you!!!
TONIGHT I PRAY THAT you realize that understanding will never bring you peace. That is why the Lord Jesus asks us to trust in HIM and not lean on our own understanding. Human beings always want to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over our own lives. That as the world presents you with these problems and another set of problems pops up to challenge you, the relief you had anticipated it short-lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again: searching for understanding (mastery of your own problems), instead of seeking the Lord. I pray that the Peace of the Lord is not an elusive goal hidden at the center of some complicated maze. I pray that you realize you can have HIS Peace, which is inherent when you are in HIS Presence. As you look to the Lord Jesus you will gain awareness of HIS Precious Peace. I pray that no matter what storms may come to try and upset that balance, that you stop and affirm your trust in HIM alone. Leave everything in HIS capable hands. Through trusting prayers, resting in His sovereign control, rejoice in HIM! As you trust in him, He will watch over you continually. You are his child and HE has engraved you on the palm of His hands. I pray you realize how great you are loved! In Jesus name I pray, Amen and Amen… I love you all!!!… God bless you!!!!! ♥♥ http://dlvr.it/6vRfsv
Lapses of Faith
What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” —Romans 4:3
The Bible doesn’t teach that if you are a Christian, you will never stumble or periodically fall short. But it does teach that if you are a true believer, when you have had a lapse or a stumble, you always will get up and move forward. That is the way to determine whether a person is really a believer or not.
When God came to Abraham in Ur and told him to break away from his family, Abraham basically refused and didn’t go for years. Even after he left, he only partially obeyed God by dragging his nephew Lot along. This only resulted in more friction down the road, when he and Lot eventually parted company. In the course of Abraham’s life, we can also see other lapses of faith. Abraham told his beautiful wife, Sarah, to say that she was his sister because he was afraid someone would kill him if they realized he was indeed her husband. He did that on two occasions.
There were a number of acts of disobedience on Abraham’s part.
Having said that, it is also important to point out that although he deviated occasionally from the straight and narrow, he always came back.
If a person says he or she is a believer and falls away and never comes back, then that person is not a believer. As 1 John 2:19 says, “When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.” (NLT). But if a person is a true believer, then he or she will be miserable in sin and eventually will beat a quick path back to the cross of Calvary.
This was great!!! I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did. Have a Simply Heavenly day!!!
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