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Posts by Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

There is no God like you. You forgive those who are guilty of sin; you don’t look at the sins of your people who are left alive. You will not stay angry forever, because you enjoy being kind. You will have mercy on us again; you will conquer our sins. You will throw away all our sins into the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:18-19 NCV).

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Sometimes the hardest thing to say is “I’m sorry” or to admit it when we have hurt someone! The only thing that can be harder is to forgive those who have hurt us!


We cannot really forgive until we have really been forgiven. Forgiveness was born on a cross where Jesus Christ loved us enough to die for our sin.


“But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NCV).


He didn’t wait until we shaped up or got cleaned up. He didn’t wait until we asked for forgiveness or even knew that we needed forgiveness. God is serious about forgiveness. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew

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Today’s Truth

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19 NIV).

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Music has always been an important part of my life. I attended college on a music scholarship. The piano was my main instrument, but I also wanted to be a guitarist.


The musical challenge of playing the guitar was not my problem. It was my fingers.


A friend gave me guitar lessons, but after a few hours of practice, my fingertips were sore and raw to the point of bleeding. When I asked him what I was doing wrong, he just laughed and held out his hands, showing me the rough calluses on his own fingers. “When I began playing the guitar, my fingers were just as sore and raw as yours are now. Just keep playing, and your fingers

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Today’s Truth

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17 NIV).

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Procrastination is one of the greatest sources of stress in life. I once heard a preacher tell the old story of three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian movement.


The first demon had it all figured out. “Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no heaven. If we take away the reward incentive, their movement will collapse,” he said.


The second demon responded with, “Let’s tell all the Christians that there really is no hell. If we take away their fear of punishment, their movement will collapse.”


The third demon offered, “There is a better way. Let’s tell all the Christians there is no hurry.” The other demons applauded in delight! “That’s it!” they

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Today’s Truth

“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 TLB).

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I have discovered some wonderful advantages of growing older. Honestly, I can get away with so much more than I could when I was younger – and I love it!


Like many of you, I have paid some heavy life dues. I am enjoying a refreshing freedom in what I say and do – as long as I say and do it in love and with integrity before God.


I am flat-out amazed by the fact that people value my advice. They actually think I know what I am doing. Hilarious! I know!


But I am thrilled to share some of the God-truths I have learned along the way. I’m also free to occasionally respond with a hearty “I don’t have

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Today’s Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name (Isaiah 45:3 NIV).

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God doesn’t waste any experience in our lives. Some experiences come by His design while others come as consequences of our actions, but they all come with His permission and are filtered through His fingers of love.


While vacationing in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, our family developed several traditions. One of those traditions was mining for gold.


The routine was always the same. After buying a bucket of muddy rocks, we were handed a mesh-bottomed tray and seated on a mud-covered stool in front of a wooden trough. Cold water rushed down from the mountain above, spilling over the trough’s sides all over us and our clothes.


Lovely!


We slowly filtered the bucket’s contents into the tray, placed the tray

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Today’s Truth

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).

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I grew up in a small country church that loved to sing hymns. One of my favorite hymns was “Power in the Blood.” When that hymn was sung, it seemed like the whole auditorium was filled with God’s power and His presence became more evident.


Blood is mentioned 460 times in the Bible. Fourteen times in the New Testament Jesus spoke of His own blood. Why? Because by the shedding of His blood, He made the possibility of our salvation a reality. He paid the penalty for our sin and redeemed us.


The penalty for our sin and rebellion is death, but Jesus stepped out and said, “I’ll take that death.” He voluntarily laid down His life and took the

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Today’s Truth

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

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I recently read the story of a man who died and went to heaven. St. Peter met him at the Pearly Gates and said, “Here’s how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me the good things you have done, and I will give you a certain number of points for each deed, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points you get to come into Heaven.”


“Okay,” the man replied. “I was married to the same woman for fifty years and never cheated on her, not even in my heart.”


“That’s wonderful,” St. Peter responded. “That is worth two points.” The man was shocked and said, “Only two points?” The

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Today’s Truth

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want (Psalm 23:1 NIV).

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When it comes to the resources that we need for life, this promise from the 23rd Psalm is staggeringly important to remember, because it holds the promise of contentment in our lives. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. Wow!


A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he was asked to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed – on the condition that the preacher would also recite it.


The actor’s recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause. The preacher’s voice was rough and broken

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6 ESV).

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One of the basic needs of every healthy relationship is confrontation. To confront someone is to meet them head-on in the quest for compromise. Just as God separates us from our sin, He calls us to do the same in our relationships. We must disconnect who they are from what they do, loving the sinner but hating the sin, looking beyond their weaknesses, searching for their strengths.


Sometimes silence is agreement. Confrontation is a gift we bring to every healthy relationship and the unhealthy relationships with which we struggle. Unfortunately, confrontation is a spiritual surgery that tends to be painful. But without it, the cancer of contention and discord will remain free to grow and spread its deadly poison.


When

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Today’s Truth

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28 NIV).

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A beekeeper once told author F.B. Meyer how some young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development. The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell filled with enough pollen and honey to nourish the egg until it reaches a particular stage of maturity. The top is then sealed with a capsule of wax.


When the food is gone, it is time for the tiny creature to be released. The wax is so hard to penetrate that the bee can make only a very narrow opening. It is so thin that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings. When it finally does emerge, it can fly.


The man telling the story

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Today’s Truth

He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24:6 NIV).

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The promise that “God’s Got You” is the basic theme of Easter. A crisis knocks us to our knees. Panic grips our hearts. No hope, no solution, and no deliverance. But when we cry out to God, His response changes everything. “I’ve got you, child!” Then everything that seemed to be falling apart begins falling into place. We realize that the crisis we thought came to destroy us came to cleanse us. And through it all, we hear the promise from our Father, “I’ve got you!”


That is precisely what the women learned when they went to the tomb that first Easter morning. The women knew Jesus was dead. And they were sure His body was in the tomb;

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Today’s Truth

“The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. Good people have good things in their hearts, and so they say good things. But evil people have evil in their hearts, so they say evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35 NCV).

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Fruit is one of my favorite foods. However, when I go grocery shopping, it takes me longer to get through the fruit section than any other storage area. Experience has taught me to quickly discard any piece of fruit bruised, mushy, or discolored.


On a recent trip to the grocery store, I carefully made my fruit selections when I thought that I spent more time choosing fruit than I spent choosing my words.


Words are power tools that can build and encourage. But unfortunately, words can also destroy and confuse. We have all been hurt and even defeated by words spoken in anger or words rising out of a wounded and bitter heart. I have been guilty of speaking damaging

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

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While in Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy dealt with appalling conditions. The women’s labor camp dorms were crammed into three high trough-like sleeping barracks with rancid hay as their bed.


The cramped conditions and lack of basic sanitation led to a lice and massive infestation of fleas. Corrie wondered how they could endure such a dreadful place.


Betsy prayed and told her sister they must “give thanks in all circumstances.”


Corrie wondered how she could possibly ever be thankful for the lice and the fleas?


Several weeks later, one of the supervisors was called in their barracks to view something Betsy was working on. The supervisor refused because the place was crawling with fleas.


Betsy then reminded her sister that it

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Today’s Truth

In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 12:5 NIV).

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A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills and never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon with a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When he had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice, he was known as “the dove man.”


We always need connections to those who will point us in the right direction. We will take

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Today’s Truth

She works with eager hands (Proverbs 31:13b NIV).

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I have had many jobs over the years. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old. In high school, I worked in a clothing store, as an aid for my choral director, and as a recruiter for an employment agency. In college, I was a secretary for the president of our social science honors program and often gave tours to visiting dignitaries. Some jobs I liked more than others but working in an insurance office when my husband attended seminary was my least favorite of all.


Our attitude about our work will determine the success of our work. No job is perfect, and no workplace is always wonderful, but we can learn to choose our inner attitude about

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Today’s Truth

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).

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You have heard the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Truer words were never spoken than when we are talking about encouragement. We all need encouragement – especially during the tough times. Those “tough” times can come in all shapes, sizes and forms and can vary from person to person.


We have one child who has been known to run an extremely high fever, walk around on a broken foot, and have a headache that would put me in bed … all without a word of complaint. The doctors have always been amazed at this child’s high level of pain tolerance.


We have another child who has been known to dissolve into hysterics at the sight of a splinter

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Today’s Truth

Then God made you alive with Christ for he forgave all our sins (Colossians 2:13 NLT).

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I love the story of a man who came home from work, picked up the paper and settled into his favorite chair for a few precious moments of solitude. He had just begun to relax when his son burst into the room. Spotting his dad, the little boy flung himself against his father’s knees and said, “Daddy, I love you!” The father patted the boy on the head and said rather absentmindedly, “Yes, Son, I love you, too.”


Picking up his paper, the father continued reading, but the boy was not satisfied. He leaned a little further into the newspaper barricade and said, “But Daddy, I really, really love you!” The man took a deep breath, put the paper

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Today’s Truth

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12 NIV).

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Patience is not one of my greatest strengths. In fact, I tend to live each day with a schedule in mind – an agenda by which to live that day.


God does have a sense of humor.


I can’t tell you how many times my schedule has fallen apart, or my carefully planned agenda has unraveled before my very eyes. I am learning that when God wants to build a certain quality in my life, He puts me in the opposite circumstance. For example, if God wants me to be more patient, He arranges the hours and minutes of my day in ways that demand patience.


What is patience? Patience is the ability to endure, but it doesn’t stop there. Patience

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26 NIV).

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I heard the doorbell ring, but I had absolutely no desire to answer it. I was desperately trying to withdraw from my world. It was too dark and too painful. I just wanted to be left alone.


Clinical depression was sucking the life out of me. I was seeing a counselor. I was also under the care of a psychiatrist who discovered I had a chemical imbalance that required medication. But it would be a long, hard road.


The doorbell rang again. I pulled the covers over my head, determined to outlast whoever was trying to work their way into my pain. It was easier to just surrender to the darkness than it was to struggle my way to the

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Today’s Truth

Jesus replied:, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).

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To excel at any sport requires each competitor to learn the true meaning of abandonment. Becoming a champion demands the commitment to live every part of life straining toward that objective.


Excellence always requires sacrifice, discipline, and a willingness to pay an enormous price. Our son, Jered, was a college football player who learned that to be the best player he could be meant he had to throw himself into weight training, personal discipline, and mental readiness. It takes a cavernous commitment and a willing abandonment to reach that goal of excellence.


Jered had a great role model in his friend, Russell, a young man who really did not have the physical size to execute the position he played on

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Today’s Truth

Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:3 GWT).

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Fruit is one of my favorite foods. When I go grocery shopping, it always takes me longer to get through the fruit section than any other area of the store. I spend what some might consider a ridiculously long time picking out what I hope will be the juiciest apples, the plumpest grapes, and the sweetest bananas.


Experience has taught me to quickly discard any piece of fruit that is bruised, mushy or discolored. I shake cantaloupe and thump watermelons. Ripe strawberries have a unique sweet scent and only the reddest cherries will do. Plums and tomatoes must be firm to the touch, bright in color and wrinkle-free while the more wrinkles the better when it comes to choosing passion

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Today’s Truth

Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected (Philippians 4:8 NCV).

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I was pathetic as I moaned my way up the stairs. My back was killing me! I had just spent four long hours taking down Christmas decorations, packing them in boxes, and hauling each box down three flights of stairs to the basement.


I was working up a stellar case of self-pity when my husband came home from work and asked what I had been doing all day. “I did two loads of laundry, wrote two devotions, took care of Justus (our grandson), answered email and then it took me four hours to take down all of the Christmas decorations,” I declared in my best “poor me” voice.


Dan did not seem impressed. “Your problem is not in your back,

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Today’s Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19 NIV).

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile of his and saying all the usual things at the White House receptions he was required to attend. One evening he decided to find out if anybody was really listening to what he was saying.


As each person came through the reception line to shake his hand, President Roosevelt flashed his big smile and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” People automatically responded with comments such as “How lovely” or “Keep up the great work, Mr. President.”


Nobody really listened to what he was saying except for one foreign diplomat. When the president said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning,” the diplomat responded softly, “I’m sure she had

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Today’s Truth

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

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Every year, many people set new life goals in January. I believe Christians should be goal oriented.


Setting goals is not about what I want to do with my life as much as it is about what God wants to do in and through my life. Someone once said that goals are the “rudder of our lives, and God’s wisdom is the wind filling the sails.”


God has always had plans and set goals according to those plans.


God created the world with a plan in mind. Can you imagine the bedlam creation would have caused if God had not had a set plan and goal?


God does not ordain chaos. He is a God of order and peace – not confusion and turmoil.

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Today’s Truth

Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others (Colossians 3:13 TLB).

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I promised myself that I would never buy a house that could be described as a “fixer-upper.” I don’t like fixing things. I want everything to be fixed before I move in. But there I was — buying a townhouse that needed so much work even the realtor couldn’t believe my husband and I wanted to buy it.


Why didn’t someone stop me? No one did, so the sale was made, and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.


I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. We gutted the whole place and rebuilt it – while living in it. I was not happy!


Honestly, I often wondered

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Today’s Truth

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7 NCV).

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I do not have a green thumb. However, I once planted some flowers in our front yard. Actually, I just kind of stuck them in the ground, quickly prayed over them and hoped for a miracle.


Then a summer storm came through. I ventured outside to check on my flowers and discovered them lying on the ground, beaten to a pulp!


I lived next door to Martha Stewart’s twin sister, who had planted the very same flowers which had gone through the very same storm … but were still standing tall and proud, mocking my sad, wilted floral remnants.


“You didn’t plant your flowers deeply enough,” my neighbor sweetly explained. Evidently, the flowers were not rooted and had been easily extracted

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Today’s Truth

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

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Every year, I make a Christmas list comprised of every person for whom I am buying a gift. Beside each name, I write a dollar amount – a limit for how much money I will spend on that gift – and whole-heartedly declare not to spend one penny more.


Somehow, the amount I actually spend rarely coincides with the amount I intended to spend, but I digress.


With every purchase, I then draw a beautiful red line through that name.


Done!


I carry that list everywhere I go because evil people are lurking in my home who will go to any lengths to find that list. Why? Because I am the Queen of Christmas Surprise! I have to guard the Secret Santa

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Today’s Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name (Isaiah 45:3 NIV).

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While I am not a big fan of television, I do enjoy watching home improvement shows. On a recent program, an interior decorator and homeowner discussed a list of changes that needed to be made to update the home.


“First, we have to do something about those windows,” the decorator announced. I was surprised that she listed this task first – until I saw the house.


The existing glass was not only an ugly shade of gold, but it was also thick and chunky. The windows let in no light and made it virtually impossible to see in or out. The result was a dark, isolated home. The distressed homeowner protested, “But I like my privacy. And if I thought

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Today’s Truth

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11 NIV).

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I am constantly amazed by the arrogance of which I am capable, daring to think I have the power within myself to intimidate Satan or thwart his efforts. I have no power apart from God.


I am weak without His strength, vulnerable to sin and a prime target for temptation. I can easily get caught up in human affirmation, my own sense of self-importance or the flattery of others. The result is always spiritual arrogance. The solution is always Godly discipline.


Godly discipline is not only a hedge of protection in our lives; it is a catalyst for spiritual growth and necessary to win the war with temptation. I know the very word, “discipline,” evokes distasteful images of pain, deprivation,

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Today’s Truth

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28 NIV).

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Have you ever received a gift that you wanted to return but couldn’t? I certainly felt that way about the pit of depression when I first experienced it. I wanted to take that nasty black hole to the nearest “Pit Store” and exchange it for a tall mountain of victory. But I have come to the place where I thank God for what He has done in my life through the pit of depression. Anything that makes me cry out to God can be counted as a blessing.


We all have a pit of some kind in our lives. Your pit may not be depression. It may be an addiction you find hard to conquer. Your pit may be

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Today’s Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that I am the LORD, your God (Isaiah 45:3 NIV).

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Life can be so irritating. It’s usually the little things that annoy me the most. The lost set of keys or misplaced cell phone. The ice-maker that quits working before a party … the little things.


But there are times when people are the problem, showing up unexpectedly or calling when I’m running late. Been there?


I’m convinced God uses these tiny irritations as “heavenly sandpaper” to rub off our rough edges.


I was invited to speak for a women’s conference based on the theme, “Pearls of Wisdom.” When I arrived, every woman was wearing pearl necklaces, bracelets, or pins. Treasure chests overflowing with pearls decorated each table.


Everyone was excited and ready to go – except for one problem. I didn’t

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Today’s Truth

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God (Psalm 40:1-3 NIV)

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In the 1950s, Curt Richter, a Harvard graduate, and Johns Hopkins scientist, did a series of experiments that tested how long rats could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water before drowning. Dr. Richter found that, under normal conditions, a rat could swim for an average of 15 minutes before giving up and sinking. However, if he rescued the rats just before drowning, dried them off, and let them rest briefly before putting them back into the same buckets of circulating water, the rats could swim an average of 60 hours.


Conclusion: If a rat were saved – even temporarily, it would survive 240 times longer than if it were not saved at all.


Interesting!


How could these rats swim so

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Today’s Truth

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7 ESV).

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I read the story of a young reporter who approached an older gentleman on his 100th birthday.


“I want to wish you a happy birthday, Sir. I have just one question for you. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life?”


“Well,” said the man, “I don’t have a single enemy in the world.”


“Really? That’s incredible!” responded the reporter. “What is your secret?”


The centenarian smiled and proudly replied, “I have outlived every single one of them.”


Let’s be honest. Some people are harder to get along with than others. I call them “sandpaper people” because they are irritating and rub me the wrong way. When it comes to handling those difficult relationships, God does not want or expect us

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24 NIV).

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Bones are important. Bones are the framework of our body. I was recently reminded just how important good bones are to our overall health when I had to have shoulder replacement surgery. Bone spurs caused by arthritis were pushing the shoulder bone out of its socket. I know. It is as painful as it sounds.


The surgery was successful and it was time for my two-week follow-up appointment. The doctor came in, followed by his assistant and an intern who were excitedly talking about great bones. I didn’t pay much attention until the assistant put my x-rays up and said, “This is the patient we were all talking about. Her bones are amazing!” Seeing the look of surprise on

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Today’s Truth

“Lord, you are my strength and my protection, my safe place in times of trouble” (Jeremiah 16:19 ERV).

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Movies with happy endings are my favorite movies. My family constantly teases me about my surreal perspective of movie entertainment, but honestly, life holds enough reality. Why would I want to pay good money to see even more reality made bigger and more frightening on a gigantic movie screen?


When the movie, “The Perfect Storm,” was first released, the previews suggested it had a happy ending. I should have known better, but we love the water and really, how bad could it be?


We bought tickets, popcorn, and drinks, found the best seats in the theater, and prepared to be entertained. Wrong! Just about every scene showed tiny boats caught in the grip of frightening waves and fierce winds. I

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Today’s Truth

Remember the Lord in all you do, and He will give you success. Don't depend on your own wisdom. Respect the LORD and refuse to do wrong (Proverbs 3:6-7 NCV).

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When Dan and I first married, I knew almost nothing about football. In fact, during a game I would often ask, “Honey, who has the ball now?” He was so patient, answering every question without bursting into laughter. Dan’s favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys, and his favorite player was Emmett Smith, their star running back at the time.


During one game, Emmitt was playing on grass instead of the artificial turf he preferred. The grass was wet, and Emmett was not playing his best game, falling down two plays out of three. Frustrated with his performance, Emmett realized he was not on solid ground and took himself out of the game to change cleats. It didn’t help. In

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Today’s Truth

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever (Psalm 136:26 NIV).

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The doorbell rang, but I had absolutely no desire to answer it. I was desperately trying to withdraw from my world. It was too dark and too painful. I just wanted to be left alone.


Clinical depression was sucking the life out of me. I was seeing a counselor. I was also under the care of a psychiatrist who discovered I had a chemical imbalance that required medication. But it would be a long, hard road.


The doorbell rang again. I pulled the covers over my head, determined to outlast whoever was trying to work their way into my pain. It was easier to just surrender to the darkness than it was to struggle my way to the light.


The doorbell

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Today’s Truth

Lord, You are my strength and my protection. You are a safe place for me to run to in times of trouble... (Jeremiah 16:19 NCV).

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No one would call George Smith a coward. Smith was a daring jet test pilot in the 1950’s when the sound barrier was first being broken. He could face anything – until he had to bail out of a jet going 805 miles per hour. Smith survived, but he was hospitalized for weeks.


Smith shared his fear of ever flying again with one of the nurses who had become a friend. The nurse smiled and said, “I have an antidote to fear. It is courage. To have courage is to know the worst, and to discover that in God’s economy, the very worst can’t really hurt you.”


George Smith reminds me of Job.


Job was an extraordinary man, husband, father, and

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Today’s Truth

I will say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety and protection. You are my God and I trust you” (Psalm 91:2 NCV).

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Allan Emery, who served for many years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared an experience that made a deep impression on him. His father received a call saying a well-known Christian had been found drunk on the sidewalk in front of a local bar.


Emery’s father immediately went to pick up the man while his mother prepared the best guest room. Emery watched wide-eyed, as the beautiful coverlets were turned down on the exquisite, old, four poster bed – revealing the monogrammed sheets.


“But, mother,” Emery protested, “he’s drunk. He might even get sick.”


“I know,” his mother replied kindly, “but this man has slipped and fallen. When he comes to, he will be so ashamed. He will need all

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Today’s Truth

Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time (Colossians 4:5, NRSV).

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I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with time management. I don’t even like the word management! What about you?


Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline. We choose where to invest our time, carefully planning everything from work-related meetings and lunch appointments to play dates and trips to the grocery store – but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Discipline carves out time to sit at His feet.


Sin thrives in a life without godly discipline. Temptation happily dances across overcrowded schedules. Our minutes, hours, and days are precious commodities, gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once.


The apostle Paul says we are to make the

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Today’s Truth

Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6, NIV).

Friend to Friend


Before Dan and I were married, I noticed several rough edges that needed to be sanded away and felt like I was just the one who could do it. After all, that’s what wives are for, right?


After a few months of marital bliss, during which I was fine-tuning my “Fix Dan Plan,” a seed of discontent took root and began to grow.


The strength I had so admired in Dan now seemed like stubbornness.


His ability to take a complicated issue, dissect it, and boil it down to a three-step-plan now seemed patronizing and sometimes even meddlesome.


What I had once embraced as his devotion to me now seemed like his need to control me.


It was time for the execution of

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Today’s Truth

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me, (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

Friend to Friend


For many years, I did everything I possibly could to hide or erase any weakness in my life. When that didn’t work, I simply pretended that those weak areas didn’t exist. Why? Because if I was weak, how could Jesus love me? How could anyone love me? How could I love myself?


When our son, Jered, began to walk, I immediately noticed that his feet turned inward. Our pediatrician recommended a specialist who examined Jered thoroughly, then ordered several x-rays. The more he examined Jered, the more concerned we became. When the specialist finally called us in for a consultation, we braced ourselves for the bad news.


The doctor’s stoic face revealed nothing, but his diagnosis was a gift. “There

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Today’s Truth

God is against the proud, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, NCV).

Friend to Friend


I hate cancer! I have lost many loved ones to this dreaded disease and have come to despise its very existence. If only I felt the same way about spiritual cancer.


C.S. Lewis called pride a “spiritual cancer” that devours love and contentment. Pride is a sign of our own insecurity and feelings of inferiority. Pride and inferiority are actually opposite sides of the same coin, and both are sin, a preoccupation with self that leaves little room for God’s spirit of humility.


We all struggle with pride, and must constantly battle the tendency to measure every circumstance against the narcissistic viewpoint of “What’s in it for me?” Pride has no place in the life of a Christian. Pride steps

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Today’s Truth

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend


I promised myself that I would never buy a house that was a “fixer-upper.” I wanted everything fixed before I moved in. But there we were – buying a town house that needed a makeover. Why didn’t someone stop me? No one did, so the sale was made, and we went to work. Actually, my son and husband went to work while I went crazy.


I had no idea how horrible the process of remodeling could be. Layer after layer of dirt, grime, stains and ugliness was stripped away. We basically gutted the whole place and rebuilt it – while living in it. I was not happy!


I often wondered why God didn’t just demolish the old me and build

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Today’s Truth

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend


I thought I was so Godly, so courageous and strong … until we decided to move. If you want to measure your faith, just decide to pack up everything you own … and move.


And if you really want to test the strength of your faith, decide to basically gut the house into which you are moving. Yep! That ought to do it!


Paint. I know a fresh coat of paint can make old walls dance with new life, but painting is also messy, time-consuming, and the source of total chaos. Icky drop cloths are sprawled everywhere, paint trays that are guaranteed not to spill … until they do … must be lugged from room to room. And don’t get me started

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Today’s Truth

Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water (Matthew 14:25, NCV).

Friend to Friend


The story is told of Will Rogers who came to his comedian friend, Eddie Cantor, for advice. Will wanted to make some important changes in his act but was worried about the danger of such changes, explaining that he wasn’t sure if they would work. Eddie Cantor’s response was, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is!” The same is true of faith.


Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see. Faith is willing to take risks, embrace the unseen and step away from the safety of the shore.


We fear the outcome or don’t understand the step God has asked us to take. We are afraid to fail and are more concerned about

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Today’s Truth

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me, (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

Friend to Friend


For many years, I did everything I possibly could to hide or erase any weakness in my life. When that didn’t work, I simply pretended that those weak areas didn’t exist. Why? Because if I was weak, how could Jesus love me? How could anyone love me? How could I love myself?


When our son, Jered, began to walk, I immediately noticed that his feet turned inward. Our pediatrician recommended a specialist who examined Jered thoroughly, then ordered several x-rays. The more he examined Jered, the more concerned we became. When the specialist finally called us in for a consultation, we braced ourselves for the bad news.


The doctor’s stoic face revealed nothing, but his diagnosis was a gift. “There

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Today’s Truth

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8, NIV).

Friend to Friend


A group of four through eight-year-olds was asked: “What does love mean?” Their answers vary from the amusing to the profound.


Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne, and they go out and smell each other.


Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.


Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.


When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.


When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t

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Today’s Truth

Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:3, GWT).

Friend to Friend


I recently received an email from a friend who told me the story of a private school in Washington that faced an unusual problem. Some of the12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would gather around the mirrors in the bathroom to compare shades and apply their lipstick.


The girls thought it was cute to then press their lips to the bathroom mirrors, leaving dozens of lip prints. The maintenance man did not think it was cute because he had to clean the mirrors – and you know how icky lipstick on a mirror can be.


Every night the maintenance man would remove the lipstick prints only to find that the girls put them back the next day.


The principal

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Today’s Truth

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend


When some of us think of the past, we remember the good old days when everything was better, simpler, cheaper and easier. Some people would like to erase their past while others long to revisit it.


If we want victory today and hope for tomorrow, we must learn how to deal with our past, because it is unchangeable. While we cannot go back and change our past, we can change our response to our past.


When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, she was very much like me in many ways, particularly in her approach to morning. We both hated it! I was always coming up with some way to lure her out of bed each morning. One of

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Today’s Truth

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow’ (Proverbs 3:27-28, NIV).

Friend to Friend


I once heard a preacher tell the story of three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian movement.


The first demon had it all figured out. “Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no heaven. If we take away the reward incentive, their movement will collapse,” he said.


The second demon responded with, “No, I have a better idea. Let’s tell all the Christians that there really is no hell. If we take away their fear of punishment, their movement will collapse.”


The third demon offered, “Both of those are great ideas, but there is a better way. Let’s tell all the Christians that there is no hurry.” The other demons applauded in delight! “That’s

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Today’s Truth

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NIV).

Friend to Friend


My husband was determined to teach me how to fish … whether I wanted to learn or not. We were on vacation with our two children, and everyone was getting in on Dan’s fishing lessons.


Danna had already announced that she would never – under any circumstances – touch a worm or a fish. Dan and Jered promised to bait her hook and reel in any fish she caught. I knew what they were thinking: the possibility of Danna actually learning how to cast a line or catch a fish was so remote that they had nothing to fear. They could not have been more wrong.


The fish seemed to jump on Danna’s hook. She squealed with excitement as she

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Today’s Truth

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for. And faith means knowing that something is real even if we do not see it (Hebrews 11:1, ICB).

Friend to Friend


I have a love-hate relationship with the movie “The Last Crusader.” The hero, Indiana Jones, is constantly hovering above some bottomless pit or dodging sinister enemies who are trying to kill him and prevent him from completing his mission. It is exhausting to watch! One part of the movie stands out above the rest as terrifying moments go.


As usual, Indiana is on the run and comes to a chasm he must cross in order to obtain the Holy Grail. No bridge. No net. Just air, and nothing but air.


The treasure map dictates a ridiculous solution that makes no sense at all but demands a huge step of faith. If Indiana will just step over the edge of that

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Today’s Truth

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up… (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend


Encouragement is a gift that Paul says we should bring to every relationship. To “encourage” someone is to deposit courage in them. The words “build up” mean “to build a house.”


The idea is to build up other believers like you would build up a house. And that building begins at home.


“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (I Thessalonians 5:11, NIV).


I remember that night well. It was so many years ago, but it seems like yesterday. And what a crazy day it had been! Probably a day like many of yours.


I was a young mom with two small children. My husband was the youth pastor of a large church. Almost every night was filled with church

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Today’s Truth

The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul (Psalm 23:1-3, NLT).

Friend to Friend


We once had an Australian cattle dog named Dallas. Australian cattle dogs are extremely loyal to a master of their choice. Dallas chose our son Jered to be his master.


When Jered came home from school each day, Dallas would greet him at the door and follow him wherever he went. When Jered did homework, Dallas curled under the desk. When Jered ran an errand, Dallas rode shotgun. Dallas instinctively knew that the only place he would find genuine rest was at the feet of his master. The same is true in our lives.


But … I am not very good at this rest thing.


Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very

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Today’s Truth

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want (Psalm 23:1, NIV).

Friend to Friend


Contentment.


We all long for contentment. People know very little about contentment because they seek it in all the wrong places.


Food


Alcohol


Drugs


Career


Sex


Relationships


Money


The list is daunting … and absolutely useless when it comes to seeking peace and contentment. The heart of contentment is wrapped around the promise found in Psalm 23:1, a truth that is staggeringly important to remember in order to experience a contented life.


“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, NIV).


The Lord is my Shepherd, so I will not want. The word “want” means “lack.” In other words, we will lack nothing. Every need in our lives will be met. Our Father, the Good Shepherd, will see to it.


A famous actor was once the guest

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Today’s Truth

Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV).

Friend to Friend


Beginnings are very important. In fact, the place of origin has much to do with the quality of the journey as well as the final destination. My journey – like yours – began in the heart and mind of God. Before I took even one breath, God loved and planned me. That same truth applies to you. You are neither an accident nor a mistake. You and I were created in response to the love and plan of God.


The power of Jeremiah 1:5 has changed my life!


Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV).


God Himself supervised our formation. Wow! That just rocks my world. Think about that truth for a moment. We

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Today’s Truth

She works with eager hands (Proverbs 31:13, NIV).

Friend to Friend


I have had many jobs over the years. I started babysitting when I was twelve years old. In high school, I worked in a clothing store, as an aid for my choral director, and as a recruiter for an employment agency. In college, I was a secretary for the president of our social science honors program and often gave tours to visiting dignitaries. Some jobs I liked more than others but working in an insurance office when my husband attended seminary was one of my least favorite jobs.


I soon discovered that I was not alone in my lack of enthusiasm as I read the following note posted on the office bulletin board:


“If you don’t believe in the resurrection

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Today’s Truth

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10, NKJV).

Friend to Friend


Jesus lived and died so we can experience abundant life, a life exuding joy, and a life so full that others crave to know the source of that fullness.


Jesus did not come so we can merely survive life. Pagans can survive life. Jesus came to be our joy.


I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10, NKJV).


Someone once said, “Joy is the flag that flies above the castle of our hearts indicating that the King reigns within.” If those words are true, why are so many women living lives with little or no joy? Maybe we have bought the lies of the enemy, allowing him to steal our joy.


Discouragement,

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Today’s Truth

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24, NSAB).

Friend to Friend


Shakespeare described jealousy as a “green-eyed monster.” I once heard it called “the gangrene of the soul.” Jealousy is usually thought of as a negative trait we need to guard against. But with God, jealousy takes on a whole new meaning.


God is a jealous God.


The root idea in the Old Testament word jealous is to become intensely red, referring to the way our face changes color with rising emotion when something or someone very dear to us is threatened. Kind of like fire!


For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24, NSAB).


Both the Old and New Testament words for jealousy are translated “zeal.”


In other words, being jealous and being zealous is often the same thing in the Bible. God

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Today’s Truth

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … Colossians 3:16, NIV).

Friend to Friend


The lakes in Florida are beautiful, but relatively shallow. Over the years, they fill up with the silt and mire that wash off the shore. In time, they accumulate two to three feet of mire and decaying vegetation at the bottom. That mire soon begins to deprive the lake, plants and fish of valuable oxygen. The lakes eventually die. In order to halt this process, the lakes must be drained periodically to expose the mire. Workers then come in and dredge the mire – restoring the lake bottom to its original condition. The lake water can then be raised. The lake, its vegetation and fish are soon thriving again.


Our lives are much the same. To experience God’s peace,

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Today’s Truth

Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him (Hebrews 11:6, ICB).

Friend to Friend


Billy Graham once said, “Most of us do not understand nuclear fission, but we accept it. I don’t understand television, but I accept it. Why is it so easy to accept these man-made miracles and so difficult to accept the miracles of the Bible?” It’s a matter of faith.


Faith is the very foundation of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that without faith, we simply cannot please God. We must come to Him, believing that He is really who He says He is and that He really will do what He promises to do. That’s faith.


“Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that

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Today’s Truth

Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water (Matthew 14:25, NCV).

Friend to Friend


Did you know that the African impala can jump to a height of over ten feet and cover a distance of greater than thirty feet? Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in any zoo by a three-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land.


What a great picture of faith. Authentic faith naturally produces action, but faith is hindered unless we abandon ourselves to that faith. That means we are willing to jump even if we don’t know where we will land.


Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see. John Shedd says, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” Faith

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Today’s Truth

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52, NIV).

Friend to Friend


A friend recently sent me the following message in an email with a subject line that said, “I immediately thought of you when I read this!”


“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!’ ”


As I read the words on the computer screen, I wasn’t sure if I had just received a sweet compliment or some badly needed correction – or both. The part about arriving at the grave in a pretty and well-preserved body was flattering, but the part about being thoroughly used up and totally worn

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Today’s Truth

Then the people brought their little children to Jesus. His followers told them to stop, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don't stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children (Matthew 19:13-14, NCV).

Friend to Friend


One Saturday night our daughter Danna and I were invited to join a group of people from church for dinner. I didn’t really want to go. I was tired. Money was tight, and I didn’t want to waste the time it would take our large group to eat. But Danna really wanted to go, so I gave in – with great reluctance and a fairly bad attitude.


The line at the restaurant was long, but after finally being seated, the waitress asked for my order. I then turned to Danna for her order – only to discover she hadn’t even opened her menu. She was staring across the room at what I suspected was some cute guy. But when

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Today’s Truth

Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right response for everyone (Colossians 4:6, NLT).

Friend to Friend


If you are like me, there have been times when I wanted to reach into the air and capture the toxic words I had just spoken. Been there?


Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite authors. I recently read an article that said the famed children’s author loved challenges. In 1959, the co-founder of his publishing company bet Dr. Seuss that he could not write an actual book with a good story using fifty words or less. Dr. Seuss quickly accepted the bet. The result? The beloved book, “Green Eggs and Ham.” To date it has sold over 200 million copies – using only 49 words in its entirety. Dr. Seuss might be on to something.


Less is often more.

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Today’s Truth

I praise You because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother's body. When I was put together there, You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old (Psalm 139:14-16, NCV).

Friend to Friend


In the early days of the automobile, a man’s Model – T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get it started. A chauffeured limousine pulled up behind the stalled car and a wiry, energetic man stepped from the back seat to offer his assistance.


After tinkering with the engine for a few moments, the stranger said, “Now try it!” The engine immediately leaped to life. The well-dressed man then identified himself as Henry Ford. “I designed and built these cars,” he said, “So I know what to do when something goes wrong.”


When our lives are broken, when the plan falls apart and everything goes wrong, we need to wait on

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Today’s Truth

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16, NIV).

Friend to Friend


We all want to be successful in our work. Many people never experience success in their work because they are in the wrong work to begin with. Not me. As a high school student, I knew exactly what I wanted to be – a nurse. My mother was a nurse and I wanted to be just like her, so I signed up to be a student volunteer at the hospital where my mother worked. When I told her the good news, she thought for a moment and then simply said, “That’s great, honey. You’ll make a wonderful nurse.”


On my first day, I eagerly donned the required red and white striped uniform and reported for duty. The head nurse

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Today’s Truth

Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. (Proverbs 4: 23, ICB)

Friend to Friend


When our kids were teenagers, we moved into a house with a huge back yard – which our children immediately proclaimed as the perfect spot for a trampoline. Since they had worked so hard helping us move, their reward was a used trampoline bought from a neighbor.


As we unpacked the trampoline, I also unpacked memories from my college years. One of my P.E. courses included six weeks of instruction on the trampoline. We couldn’t wait to get started! However, before anyone set foot on that trampoline, the professor spent several class periods going over the safety rules. How hard could it be? You get on the thing and jump! Not so, according to our teacher.


She persistently detailed each

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Today’s Truth

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. (Psalm 23:5, NKJV).

Friend to Friend


The thought of hosting a large dinner party makes me want to lock the front door and hide. It’s just not “my thing.” But my friend, Michelle, is the consummate hostess. She makes entertaining look so easy. To her, a dinner party for 50 guests is a simple feat. Just shoot me now!


One of Michelle’s favorite preparations is the dinner table. When I’m expecting company, the first guests to arrive often have the honor of setting the table or stirring something, and … you get the idea. Not Michelle. I’ve seen her table beautifully arranged days before a dinner party or holiday meal. When I asked her why she went to such elaborate lengths her answer made me

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Today’s Truth

Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you.

(Jeremiah 1:5, NCV)

Friend to Friend


We all long to be chosen, loved by someone who sees us as we really are and recognizes our worth. Right? Jeremiah’s words are a breathtaking truth for every believer:


Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV).


God chose us first … and then created us in response to that choice! How awesome is that? The plan for our life came first!


Esther was chosen by God but felt unworthy of that choice. Esther was an orphan, an insignificant and unknown Jewish girl living with her uncle, Mordecai, when she was chosen to be Queen, the wife of Persian King Ahasueras. Esther reigned for only a short time when Mordecai learned of a plot

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Today’s Truth

The LORD does what is right, and He loves justice, so honest people will see His face.

(Psalm 11:7, NCV)

Friend to Friend


Worship is a word we often use but something we rarely experience. Oh, we say we are going to a worship service each Sunday, but do we really encounter the living God? Or do we merely participate in another weekly religious gathering?


When was the last time you walked away from a worship service – eternally changed because God met you there? We misunderstand what true worship is and fail to recognize the requirements of worship.


A preacher, out for a walk, noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog. “What are you doing, boys?” he asked. “Telling lies,” one young man explained. “The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog.” The minister was shocked!

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Today’s Truth

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

Friend to Friend


Every year, I make a Christmas list comprised of every person for whom I am buying a gift. Beside each name, I put a dollar amount, a limit of how much money I will spend for that gift, vowing not to spend one penny more than the set limit. (Somehow, the amount I actually spend rarely coincides with the amount I intended to spend. Can you relate?) With every purchase, I then draw a beautiful red line through that name. Done!


I carry that list everywhere I go because sometimes I find a gift during a random shopping trip but mainly because I can’t afford to let it out of my sight. There are evil people lurking in my

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Today’s Truth

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Psalm 51:17, NIV).

Friend to Friend


He was a friend … a pastor visiting my husband and me for a few days. He had come for help and advice because his wife was broken – a statement that made me just a tad bit angry for some reason. I didn’t really know why it made me angry, but it did.


“John, what did you mean when you said your wife is broken?” I asked. His eyes filled with tears as he explained, “She has been diagnosed with clinical depression. Mary, you have never met her, but she is the strongest woman I have ever known. She is talented, godly, and beautiful. But six months ago, she broke. It’s like she shattered into a million pieces

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Today’s Truth

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV).

Friend to Friend


When our son Jered began to walk, I noticed that his feet turned inward. A specialist ordered x-rays. The more he examined Jered, the more concerned we became. When we were finally called in for a consultation, we braced ourselves for bad news…just in case.


The doctor’s diagnosis was a gift. “There is nothing wrong with Jered’s feet,” he explained. “They are simply the feet of a natural athlete and were designed to give him great balance.” What we feared as weakness, an obstacle to overcome, was really a great strength. It was also part of God’s plan for Jered who attended college…on a football scholarship.


We were created by God, according to His plan, in love and with purpose

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Today’s Truth

I will give thanks to Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness, because Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name (Psalm 138:2, NLT).

Friend to Friend


I love money-back guarantees. We once bought a car to replace a van that had 125,000 miles on it. Our first vacation in the new car was a disaster. We began having trouble the very first day of our trip. We stopped in four different cities, trying to find a mechanic who could repair the car. No one could explain or even find the problem. We were not happy campers! But when we returned home and contacted the dealership, we were told that because of the guarantee on the car, we could get our money back or trade it in for another one. Loved. It.


Did you know that there is a money-back guarantee on every promise of God?


I

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Today’s Truth

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father (James 1:17, NLT).

Friend to Friend


Our grandchildren are a source of great joy in my life and some of my most capable teachers. One of the most powerful lessons came from our daughter’s oldest son, Justus. When he was about five years old, Justus reminded me that God is the ultimate Gift-Giver.


Justus has always loved dirt. If he is not truly dirty – he is not truly happy.


One of his favorite toys to play with in his beloved dirt was what he called a “digger.” Justus had quite a collection of plastic construction vehicles and knew the name of each one. But he preferred to call them diggers … so diggers it was.


Our daughter and son-in-law wisely gave Justus a section of their

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Today’s Truth

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, NLT).

Friend to Friend


Life is so daily, isn’t it? Hard times come … and they usually come with big doses of discouragement, fear, depression or anxiety. We often attribute the presence of those nasty emotions to the difficult circumstances we are currently facing. Anyone would struggle when faced with trials – right?


Yes! But what if my frame of mind has less to do with stress and more to do with not being able to see what God is doing all around me? What if regular doses of gratitude could actually be the antidote to freaking out in times of stress?


Four of our grandchildren spent the night with us last week. They are beautiful and bright and very well mannered. In fact,

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Today’s Truth

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance (Romans 5:3, NLT).

Friend to Friend


Have you heard about the tiny sea turtles that, when hatched, must make their way across the seashore to the ocean? If a person picks them up and helps them get to the water, they will die. Why? It is in their struggle through the sand that their little flippers are strengthened. People mean well. They think they are helping the tiny sea creature. But removing the struggle is actually harmful to the turtles. Without strong flippers they can’t swim. The waves overtake them, and they cannot survive.


How often have we wished for and even prayed for a trouble-free life? No problems. No trials. But like that tiny sea turtle, if we had a life void of trouble

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Today’s Truth

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35, NIV).

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I recently read the story of a young couple who moved into a new neighborhood. The first morning in their new home, the couple sat down to eat breakfast and plan their day. The young woman saw her neighbor hanging her freshly washed clothes outside, something I have never done and don’t intend to start doing.


“That laundry is not very clean. I don’t think she knows how to wash correctly. Maybe she needs better laundry soap,” the young woman mused. Her husband simply looked on, remaining silent.


Every time her neighbor hung her washing out to dry, the young woman made the same comments. A month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the

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Today’s Truth

And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son. (John 14:13, NCV).

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My eyes opened to another day.


Another day filled with excruciating pain.


I have lived with back pain for many years. But two weeks earlier, I had taken the hardest fall of my life and the pain was unlike any I have experienced. I literally could not catch my breath at times. I knew something was very wrong.


Even though I alternated heat and ice pretty much 24-7 for two weeks, the pain was not letting up – not even a little bit. I explained the situation to my Father … as if He was unaware of my circumstances. I know.


My back doctor did a set of X-rays that revealed a fracture in my spine.


A fracture!


In my spine!


This could not be

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Today’s Truth

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1, NIV)

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Who says dreams don’t come true? Our son grew up with one dream in mind – to play college football. That dream came true. Jered was the starting fullback on his college football team and was on academic and football scholarship. I, of course, taught him everything he knows!


When college football scouts from all over the country began to recruit Jered, I discovered it was quite a process. The scouts keep track of the statistics on high school players, watching certain ones for three and four years. College coaches show up at high school games to talk with high school coaches and watch their potential players in action. Letters start filling the mailbox along with promotional material for

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Today’s Truth

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

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All of us are familiar with crisis. If 2020 has taught us anything, it has given us a chance to grow through difficult times. Our country is facing four crises at once: a health crisis, a financial crisis, a racial crisis and a political crisis. This was not the year any of us expected.


How do we find hope in the midst of crisis? How do we keep believing God is at work? How can we know it is all going to be okay? Hebrews 11 teaches that we must do three things to stay hopeful in the storms of life: embrace an eternal perspective from God, establish a daily routine with God, and trust the total sovereignty of

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Today’s Truth

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

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Hebrews 11 teaches that we must do three things to stay hopeful in the storms of life: embrace an eternal perspective from God, establish a daily routine with God, and trust the total sovereignty of God. Today we focus on trusting the sovereignty of God.


Our faith, our confidence, our assurance and our hope are all grounded in the sovereignty of God. Sovereignty is a big word. And an even bigger concept. It is worth grabbing.


First – sovereignty means the King is in charge.


The word “sovereignty” obviously comes from the word “sovereign.” And sovereign means “he who is in charge.”


There was an old black and white TV show from the 1950’s called “Father Knows Best.” The title says it

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Today’s Truth

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5, NIV)

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I promised myself that when I grew up and became a parent, I would never ever tell my kids that they had to do something simply “because I said so.” I broke that promise. One day, my parenting frustration level was on overload. I had run out of good responses. I heard the words come out of my mouth, but I could not believe I had actually said them. “Just do it! I am your mother and I said so!” Can you relate?


I’ve been studying Luke, chapter 5:1-11 this week. The phrase that keeps coming up in my spirit is Simon Peter telling Jesus, “because You say so.” In the Greek, it is the word that I have come

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Today’s Truth

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19, NLT).

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We are continuing to learn about how to listen – specifically, about how to be quick to listen. I have learned three practices that help me be quick to listen, and help me to listen to others like Jesus listens to me:



Listen for pain.
Listen for need.
Listen for dreams.

Nothing encourages someone like listening to and encouraging their dreams. Dan Southerland could encourage dirt! Seriously! I once told him, “Honestly, I think you could find something good in Satan. He thought for a minute and then said, “Well, he is consistent.”


Years ago, I learned a great definition of the word “encourage.” To “encourage” means to “put courage in someone.” That definition of “encourage” is literally found in the history books.


From

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Today’s Truth

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19, NLT). Let your compassion quickly meet our needs, for we are on the brink of despair. (Psalm 79:8, NLT) Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, NLT).

Friend to Friend


We are continuing our commitment to become a better listener. Most of us are naturally slow to listen and quick to speak. As a result, learning to be quick to listen and slow to speak is no small thing. It takes time. It takes commitment. And it takes practice.


We have already looked at learning to listen for pain. Today we look at learning to listen for need.


Psalm 79 tells us that when we are in despair, God quickly listens to and meets our needs. That is the point of listening for need – to identify and, if we can, minister to the needs of those we love. To listen like God listens means we must learn to listen

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Today’s Truth

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger James 1:19 (NLT) You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

Psalm 10:17

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If you are a social media user, you know about black out Tuesday. It occurred on June 2, 2020.


Millions of Americans refused to post on social media that day. And chose instead to spend the day listening


Listening matters! Why? Because nobody believes you love them until you first listen to them.


We all know the consequences of driving too fast or too slowly. Both can be dangerous. I have never been accused of driving too slowly. (I don’t drive fast. I drive quickly.) But I often find myself listening too slow.


James 1:19 gives us great direction about the speed of listening. It tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. My problem is

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Today’s Truth

“Always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants.”

James 1:19-20

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Every person you know is looking for someone who cares enough to listen. You have heard the saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The truth is that every relationship begins with listening. 


Listening is hard work and something we are not prone to do. I hate to admit it, but I tend to use listening time as time to prepare the brilliant things I am going to say when that person stops talking. Not exactly the loving heart of Jesus, is it?


During these very uncertain times of economic disaster, a global pandemic, and racial tension we can diffuse situations by simply listening.


The woman who has lost her job needs

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Today’s Truth

All the angels are spirits who serve God and are sent to help those who will receive salvation.

(Hebrews 1:14, NIV)

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Diane was visiting in the home of some friends. Time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year. She ended up staying longer than she had planned and had to walk home alone. But she wasn’t afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away. As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane whispered a prayer asking God to keep her safe from harm and danger.


When she reached the alley, which was a shortcut to her house, she decided to take it. However, halfway down the alley, she noticed a man standing at the end, as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and

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Today’s Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.

(James 1:19, NIV)

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I was flying to a speaking event … a three-day conference. And I was already so tired and just wanted to sit quietly and take a nap. As I took my seat, I prayed that the person sitting beside me did not want to talk. I know. So spiritual.


A young man sat down beside me. We exchanged the usual greetings. As the plane took off I opened my book and pretended to be reading. But the words were jumbled and made no sense because I was that tired. A quick glance brought great relief. The young man was reading a book. Yes! I thought I was home free.


And then it happened!


The “Dump Here” sign on my forehead evidently

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Today’s Truth

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(James 1:3-5, NIV)

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Perseverance is essential in the Christian life. We do not mature without learning to persevere. And we do not learn to persevere without trouble and storms and problems.


Yesterday we talked about two keys to learning perseverance.



We must realize that trouble is normal.
We must remember that God is with us in our storm.
Look for God to use you in your storm.

In the storm? Yep – in the storm. God does not wait until you get through the storm to use you. He will use your while you are in the midst of your trouble if you will allow Him to do so.


Anybody can forecast how they will handle future trouble by naively declaring what they would do if

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Today’s Truth

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

(James 1:3-5, NIV)

Friend to Friend


All of us have moments when we are overwhelmed by trouble. I remember many of these moments, but one stands out in particular. I was working for a ministry where I was finishing up my time there. I was sad about it. My husband Dan was going through major heart problems and was facing big time surgery. Our daughter was off the reservation, lost somewhere in her world of teenage rebellion. And our normally steady son was having his own crisis, breaking up with a long-term girlfriend and ready to quit playing college football. In short – I was over it! I was regularly turning to God and saying “Really? Really God?”


I know you have been there

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Today’s Truth

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

(2 Timothy 1:7, NCV)

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We all battle fear. Fear constantly tries to elbow faith aside, hoping to derail God’s plan and purpose in our lives. Fear keeps many of us from dreaming God-sized dreams, persuading us to settle for safety and comfort instead of riding the waves of possibilities. When faith yanks our hideous fears out of the darkness and into the light, we can see them for what they really are – powerless.


Faith is a three-letter word.


Faith says “yes” to peace and “no” to fear.


It may be one tiny step or one puny choice.


It may be a whispered prayer or a desperate cry.


But God always honors the choice to walk straight ahead through fear. Fear trains us to anticipate the worst

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Today’s Truth

The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.

(Psalm 118;22, NCV)

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I want to be a bummer lamb. Now I know what you are thinking but stay with me. I have been fascinated with sheep since I was a little girl. We lived on a farm and I really did have a little lamb. My daddy gave me that lamb. Actually, it was a trade. I was having trouble giving up my bottle. And daddy said the poor little lamb didn’t have any way to eat. So, I traded my bottle for the lamb. A sweet deal all around. And a fascination with sheep was born.


While reading an article about sheep, I discovered an interesting fact about sheep. Ewes will occasionally give birth to a lamb … and then

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Today’s Truth

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.

(Psalm 62:5, NIV)

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As we drove through the scenic mountains of North Carolina, I could feel my soul begin to settle and my spirit grow quiet. It was a welcome feeling … one that was a long time coming.


We had been vacationing at Lake Lure since our children were toddlers. Now Jered and Danna are married and have children of their own. And we were about to meet all of them for a whole week of vacation together!


I. Could. Not. Wait.


But I really needed a little time to just be still. To set aside the busy schedule I had just left behind. To reset my heart and mind on the precious lives and legacy about to arrive, yelling “Mimi” as they

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Today’s Truth

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.

(1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

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I was physically exhausted and had let my guard down. The minute I let my guard down, the enemy moved in with a vengeance. My unguarded heart was in trouble, wounded by the words of someone I love.


I knew what I needed to do – deal with the hurt, forgive the one who had hurt me, and let go of the pain. I just didn’t want to do it. And God calls that sin.


If you did not read yesterday’s devotion about my husband’s defibrillator, I encourage you to take a few minutes to do that now.


As surely as that beeping defibrillator grabbed Dan’s attention, the Holy Spirit grabbed mine. I examined my life for ways to guard my

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Today’s Truth

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

(Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

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It had been a very long day. My husband and I were both tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep – but we needed to talk. We didn’t have any major concerns or problems to discuss; we just wanted to catch up on life and unwind a little bit.


Dan was telling me about his day when he suddenly stopped, looked around and asked, “What was that beeping sound?” I hadn’t heard anything but suggested that the smoke detector battery probably needed replacing.


“It was a different kind of beeping,” Dan insisted. We listened – nothing. We turned out the lights and went to sleep, and I forgot all about the elusive beeping.


When Dan came home from work

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Today’s Truth

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak.

(Isaiah 40:29, NCV)

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I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, the right guy gets the right girl, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided that there is enough harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a movie screen.


With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie “Sea Biscuit.” There I was; popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite, when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the tenacious essence and interminable power of truth.


“You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s banged up a little.”


I was

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Today’s Truth

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

(1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

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Bullies are everywhere!


On the playground.


In the classroom.


At the office.


On the roads.


In our cities.


In our homes.


But the biggest bully of all is Satan. I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of Satan and his tactics. Satan is a bully. He loves to intimidate us and bring us to our knees when we are weak or wounded. Just like a lion stalking its prey, Satan monitors our every move, just waiting for the right moment to pounce.


Do not listen to the doubts and lies of Satan. His goal is to render you helpless and defeated, no longer a threat to him or his kingdom.


More important than where you have been or even where you are, is

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Today’s Truth

He (God) is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven.

(Ephesians 1:7, NLT)

Friend to Friend


It had been a rough afternoon for Hudson, our four-year-old grandson. Dan and I were keeping him and his brother Justus for a few days while our daughter and son-in-law were out of town. I know. It’s a rough job, but somebody has to do it.


I had spent a week getting ready for their visit. The checklist was complete!


The refrigerator, pantry, and snack drawer were filled with their favorite foods.


The toys were assembled and ready for action.


The bed in our guestroom was piled high with extra pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals waiting to be hugged.


Favorite books were stacked beside their bed for naps and bedtime imaginations.


Now all we needed were the boys! When we went to pick them

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8