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Category: Thoughts by Men

Do Not be Afraid

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“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:8-10 (NIV)

Have you ever noticed God is always telling us to not be afraid? For instance, in the Bible, whenever an angel shows up with a message from God, the first thing the angel says is: “Do not be afraid.”

There are all kinds of reasons we might be afraid to receive a message from God: We’re afraid of change, afraid of losing control, afraid of sacrifice.

We’re afraid of living apart from the pretense that we must be good enough.

Yet, the good news of great joy is that you don’t have to be good enough because God is good enough on your behalf!

The Bible teaches us to fight fear with faith—faith that Jesus will cover all our sins and shortcomings.

Practical Nativity:

  •  Replace fear with faith. God’s perfect love drives out all fear (1 John4:18). As you abandon your fears, ask God to guide you toward great faith: “I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.”
  •  Chase God, not perfection. You will never reach perfection, but Jesus, through his death and resurrection, is your perfection. God doesn’t love you because you’re the best in your class or because you try really hard. God loves you because he loves you. Slow down, shake off your anxiety, and meditate on that.

by Jon Walker
Used by Permission

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An Undeserved Gift

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Many people received God’s gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:15 (NCV)

We take our free gift of salvation and try to earn it or diagnose it or pay for it instead of simply saying “thank you” and accepting it.

Ironic as it may appear, one of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace.  There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift.  We have some weird compulsion to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift.

Why do we do that?  The only reason I can figure is pride.  To accept grace means to accept its necessity and most folks don’t like to do that.  To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.

By Max Lucado
Used by permission

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The Cap of Separation

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“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people; for today in the City of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10

So just what do you see and just what do others see in celebration of Christmas? Can those who go to parties mistake it as a time of merriment? Can those who cruise the malls with ever expanding bags of gifts and an every decreasing credit line mistake it as a time to give and get the material gifts of life? Can those who just read the Christmas story and overlook the majesty of the moment mistake it as a mere historical event? So just what is the significance of the birth of the Christ Child?

I recently heard a Jewish man talking about why he wore the skullcap, known as a kipa in the Hebrew language. I was fascinated at his explanation, as it opened my eyes as to another perspective on the birth of Christ.

When I asked, he said he would be delighted to write it down and send it to me and the following is the note he sent to me:

I am happy to share with you the reason Orthodox Jews and other people of faith wear the skullcap (kipa). Since the time of Abraham, we have understood the greatness of the Creator of us all. To demonstrate that, we acknowledge that he is everything and although he has created in his own image, there exists a great separation between him and us as there is a separation between heaven and earth. To demonstrate that separation, our humility, love and obedience to him, we wear the skullcap.”

That gave me a whole new perspective on my Christian faith. If those people who are still looking for the Messiah need to demonstrate a separation between man and God, then we as Christians need to understand that Christ’s coming as Savior and Lord connected that separation between man and God.

Jesus came to take off my kipa. The sin established in the Garden of Eden separated us from God until a baby born in a manger later shed His blood so that sin would no longer separate me from my Creator. He was not only mighty in creation, but mighty in salvation. He conquered my obstruction and when he ripped the temple vale, He restored my separation from my Creator.

So, as you celebrate Christmas remember that because of the baby in the manger, your head is bare and you have direct access to the one who created you.

By John Grant
Used by Permission

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John Grant is a former Florida State Senator and is a practicing attorney

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Praise

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I did a Bible word search for the word “Praise” and it appears 296 times in the New International version of the Bible.  I read through all 296 of them this morning. All but a six are in reference to praising God. It was a good exercise. By the time I finished – all I wanted to do was praise the Lord. There was no reference to man praising man. It actually speaks against it.

1 Corinthians 4:5 says: “...we will receive our praise from God.”

The dictionary defines praise: as a verb to express warm approval or admiration of, to express one’s respect and gratitude toward (a deity); As a noun it is the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something; the expression of respect and gratitude as an act of worship. The words origin: Middle English appraise, set a price on, attach value to; from Old French preisier – ‘to prize, praise‘; from Latin pretiumprice.’

It is apparent that God is worthy of all praise when we recognize who He is and the price He paid for each of us.

My prayer for you this week is that you too are praising the Lord.

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens, Praise Him in the heights above.
Praise Him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise Him, sun and moon,
Praise Him, all you shining stars. Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and you were created. He set you in place for ever and ever; He gave a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, oh great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do His bidding, the mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them Praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord. Amen.” Psalm 148

By Alec Niemi
Used by Permission

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Who Do You Work For?

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Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:22-24 (ESV)

Why do you work? Do you work hard at your job? I know, it’s too early for that many questions, but it is a very serious subject. In our society, it is proper to work hard for your boss, or to work hard for your family. These are good things as long as you are doing them by working hard for the Lord. Not sure what that means? Let’s see what Paul says:

Ignore the bond servant (slaves) word. In the King James Version it uses the word servant, which would be more proper. Slaves were a cultural thing, not a biblical thing. Notice Paul says, “obey your earthly masters as one who fears the Lord. . . not as a people pleaser”. When you work hard for your boss or your family are you doing it to be a people pleaser, or are you doing it with sincerity of your heart, as one who fears the Lord? What’s the difference you might ask?

If you work hard in all things for the Lord, you are in His will, just as Jesus did all things as the Father asked Him to do. When God said go, He went, when God said stay, He stayed. We need to have the same approach to our work. Man will manipulate and deceive you. Family will manipulate and deceive you, but God will not. In all things we need to pray and seek His wisdom so we are working hard for Him. There is a huge difference!

For years, before I gave my life truly to Christ, I worked for myself. If I held a second job it was for me to have more money, or for others to have more. I worked for material things, and for selfish reasons. My heart was not on God, it was on me. I made a lot of money in those days, yet the funny part is that I had nothing to show for it except brokenness and heartache.

My son barely saw me, and when he did, I was angry, exhausted, and had no patience. This wasn’t just because I was working so hard, it was because I was doing it on my own, and for me. I felt I was entitled to be short on patience and angry. I had no fruit of the Spirit in me. Now, I work just about as hard as I did then, and for a lot less money but my life has a much different look. When I am at work, I no longer grumble and complain, I do all things to serve Christ. Now I work hard for God, and not for man. I am blessed, I am happy, and my heart is at peace.

Just a side note: Working hard for God will not earn you salvation. You cannot earn your salvation, nor can you earn His Love. It is a gift.

Father, We pray today, that in all we do, we do it for You. Lord let us humbly and fearfully work for You and not for man. Transform our hearts Lord God. Let us not be lazy, nor selfish. Let us have our eyes and minds on You, being led by Your Holy Spirit. We praise You Lord, for every blessing You provide for us and our families. Let us not use these blessings for ourselves in selfish ways, yet use them in how You see fit for us. Be our captain, and steer our lives Lord, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Question: Do you work hard for you, or for God?

By Daniel Forster
Used by Permission

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One More Reason to Praise

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His presence within us is God’s guarantee that He really will give us all that He promised; and the Spirit’s seal upon us means that God has already purchased us and that He guarantees to bring us to Himself. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious GodEphesians 1:14

To me, this wonderful verse means that, as children of God, we have the ability to obey God’s laws if we are filled continually with the Holy Spirit and refuse to obey the old evil nature within us.

In order to live the supernatural life which is available to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we must know our rights as children of God. We need to know our spiritual heritage. We must know how to draw upon the inexhaustible, supernatural resources of God’s love, power, forgiveness and abundant grace.

The first step is to learn everything we can about God. We also need to know about the nature of man and why he behaves as he does. The best way to learn who God is, who man is and about our rights as children of God is to spend much time – even at the sacrifice of other needs and demands on our schedules – in reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God, and in prayer and witnessing.

Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome,

“For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children. And since we are His children, we will share His treasures – for all God gives to His Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:16,17).

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

Today: I will acknowledge God’s presence, believe His promises and surrender to His special will for me, and thus will I praise Him throughout the day.

Question: Thinking back to what’s happened in your life today (or yesterday if you’re reading this early in the morning!) what can you give God praise for?

By Dr. Bill Bright
Used by Permission

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Christ in You

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Proliferating throughout Scripture is an enticing and inviting preposition —the preposition “in.” Jesus lives in his children. From Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

God in us! Have we sounded the depth of this promise? With God in you, you have a million resources you didn’t have before. Can’t stop worrying? Christ can. And he lives within you. Can’t forget the past, forgive the jerk, or forsake your bad habits? Christ can! And he lives in you.

Oh to be so full of him that we could say with the apostle Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!”

By Max Lucado

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From: In the Manger
Used by permission
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Faith, Not Feelings Pleases God

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“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21 NIV).

When you are a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers so you’ll know he exists. But as you grow in faith, he will wean you of these dependencies.

God’s omnipresence and the manifestation of his presence are two different things. One is a fact; the other is often a feeling. God is always present, even when you are unaware of him, and his presence is too profound to be measured by mere emotion.

Yes, he wants you to sense his presence, but he’s more concerned that you trust him than that you feel him. Faith, not feelings, pleases God.

The situations that will stretch your faith most will be those times when life falls apart and God is nowhere to be found. This happened to Job. On a single day he lost everything — his family, his business, his health, and everything he owned. Most discouraging, for 37 chapters, God said nothing!

How do you praise God when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life and God is silent? How do you stay connected in a crisis without communication? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when they’re full of tears? You do what Job did: “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’” (Job 1:20b-21 NIV).

Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your heart to God. Unload every emotion that you’re feeling. Job did this when he said, “I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT).

He cried out when God seemed distant: “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house” (Job 29:4 NIV).

God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. You can bring everything to him in prayer.

Thoughts:

In what ways can you show God that you trust him even when you don’t feel his presence?
– What are some of the things you can praise God for, even when you don’t understand what’s happening in your life?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission

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Don’t Get Lost in Your Troubles

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Our minds cannot be full of God at the same time they are full of fear! Don’t get lost in your troubles. Lift up your eyes! “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! (Isaiah 26:3 TLB).

Are you troubled, restless, sleepless? Then rejoice in the Lord’s Sovereignty. I dare you. I double-dog dare you–to expose your worries to an hour of worship. Your concerns will melt like ice on an August sidewalk!

Jeremiah draws a direct connection between faith and peace. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV).

By Max Lucado
From:  Anxious for Nothing

To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at:    
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God Our Comforter

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When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psalm 94:19

Thought

God is our comforter, sustainer, and Lord. Only his gracious presence and tender blessings can bring consolation and comfort to our restless and discouraged souls. So let’s turn to him, honestly confessing both our sins and our sorrows. Let’s ask him to take our anxiety away and restore to us the passion, the joy, and the confidence of our salvation.

Prayer

Almighty Shepherd, in the noise and confusion of many thoughts burdened by many concerns, minister to me through your Holy Spirit. I need your comfort and peace. I ask for your presence and your grace. In Jesus’ name I ask. Amen.

By Phil Ware
Used with permission.
You can also follow Phil’s daily devotionals on http://www.verseoftheday.com

To learn more about the Holy Spirit, visit this link: http://thoughts-about-god.com/biblestudies_/spiritfilledlife

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The Uniqueness of Christ

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Read: Matthew 16:1-28

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” But Peter answered,You are the Christ, the Son of the living God
(Matthew 16:13-16).

What set Jesus apart as the Messiah?

  •  His birth: He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born, as prophesied, in Bethlehem to a virgin. Though angels announced His arrival and He reigns over all creation, Jesus entered our world in a lowly manner so He could be identified with the meek and the poor.
  •  His wisdom: At age 12, He spent three days with rabbis, asking questions that showed his uncommon understanding.
  •  His baptism: Though He didn’t need cleansing, Jesus asked John to baptize Him so He could identify with sinners and demonstrate His love to them.
  •  His temptation: Satan tempted Him relentlessly for 40 days, yet He did not sin.
  • His ministry: He challenged man-made religious traditions. And by healing people—regardless of nationality—raising the dead, and forgiving sins, He revealed that God wants to be involved personally in our lives. Leading Pharisees wanted Him dead, but the Father protected His life until the crucifixion.

Many people deny Christ’s deity, calling Him simply a “prophet” or “good teacher.” But Jesus was never merely human. As complex as it is for us to comprehend, He was fully God and fully man. This is the unique way in which our heavenly Father chose to demonstrate His eternal love for us.

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Used by permission http://www.intouch.org/

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Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus

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He that says that he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. 1 John 2:6

On a recent morning walk, I happened upon a truck proclaiming a statement that caught my eye. It was a quote from Gandhi. I paused to take a quick photo with my cell phone and as I continued on my way, I pondered what I had just read. What was the owner of the truck trying to say? Is there truth to it?

I Like your Christ.
I do not like your Christians.
They are so unlike your Christ.
Gandhi

Remember in elementary school when you would go on field trips and your teachers would tell you to behave because you were representing the school? If your class misbehaved at the museum, the museum employees would think your school is full of children who misbehave.

Well, the same in true of everything in life. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you are always representing everything you associate yourself with. You represent your school, your employer, your group of friends, your family. And as followers of Christ, we represent Christ.

Does the way you represent Christ push others towards Him or away from Him? Why is it that Christians are not more like our Christ? There are some who genuinely strive for that, but there are others who want salvation and nothing more. Scriptures call us to imitate Jesus, to obey Him, and to live the way He lived.

Paul lived a life to reflect the Christ he professed. In writing to the Ephesians, he said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:1-2) Paul reminds us to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life which is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.

How about you? What kind of statement does your conduct in the world say about your faith….. your Jesus? Do you live on Monday what you are taught on Sunday? Remember you may be the only Gospel that many people will ever read. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t risk being unlike your Christ. Someone’s eternal life may be determined by it.

by John Grant
Used by Permission
John Grant is a former Florida State Senator and is a practicing attorney

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Wait and He Will Help

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Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and He will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted and courageous. Yes, wait and He will help youPsalm 27:14

Our surveys of hundreds of thousands of Christians throughout the world indicate that most Christians do not witness because of their fear. Even Timothy seems to have had the same problem.

His father in the faith, the apostle Paul, reminded him, as recorded in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind“. That is the reason our Lord promised, in Acts 1:8, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses“.

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can enable us to overcome fear. So, as we claim the promises of God and appropriate the fullness and power of His Holy Spirit, we can know that courage.

A Japanese schoolboy once showed his courage in a way that puts many of us to shame.

He belonged to a school in Nagasaki containing 150 boys, and he was the only Christian among them all. He brought his lunch to school, as he lived at a distance, and he dared to fold his hands and ask a blessing every day before he ate.

He had some enemies among the boys who went to the master of the school and accused him of ‘doing something in the way of magic’.  The master thereupon called the lad before the school and asked him what he had been doing.

The little fellow spoke up bravely, explaining that he was a Christian, and that he had been thanking God and asking Him to bless the food. At once the master burst into tears, putting his head down on the desk.

‘My boy,‘ he said, ‘I too am a Christian; but I was afraid to tell anyone. Now, with God’s help I will try to live as a Christian ought to live.’ ”

Bible Reading: Isaiah 40:27-31

Today’s Action Point:

Today I shall, through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, be brave, stouthearted and courageous as I go forth to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ.

by Dr. Bill Bright
Used by Permission

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Overlooking the Obvious

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Hunting season has arrived, time to take out the camo, sight the rifles and head for the woods in high hopes that this year will be the year to bag the big trophy. It’s a guy thing.

My friend dropped me off at my chosen stand, one of my favorites. The weather was overcast and raining intermittently. From my vantage in the stand, I could see panorama overlooking a peanut field with heave woods on both my left and right. I kept monitoring all points of view waiting for the big one to walk out.

Suddenly, I saw movement in the woods and then saw a doe and two small fawns walk out into the open. They were fun to watch and I enjoyed viewing them until it was almost dark.

When my friend came to pick me up, he asked why I didn’t shoot. He had been watching from a stand across the field. I told him that the three I saw were too small to shoot and he said he wasn’t talking about those, but about the trophy buck that came out on my left not more than twenty yards from my stand. I then realized that I had been so concentrating on the watching the smaller ones that I had neglected to continue looking in all directions. In doing so, I had missed the obvious and lost the opportunity to bag the big one on the first day of the season.

Have you ever been in the position of looking for something you need and not being able to find it? It happens to me all the time, but then I call for my bride, who can find anything and suddenly there it is. I’m sure it wasn’t there before.  I couldn’t see for looking.

But the same thing happened with John the Baptist. He was like us, looking for the Christ. That’s what he said his job was all about. And when the time came he couldn’t see for looking. Twice he says that he did not recognize Jesus. He couldn’t see for looking.

John, baptizing away in the Jordan was probably on remote control. Another lot to baptize the same as yesterday, and last week and last year. And in pops a nondescript Galilean and suddenly God speaks to John and lets him know who he’s baptizing, the Lamb of God – the Son of God.

Now if John found it hard to recognize Jesus when he was in front of his nose, is it any wonder that we find it hard to recognize Jesus? That’s all about how and where we look. Jesus is all around us. We find Him in prayer. We find Him in His Word. We find Him everywhere, if only we seek Him. He is there. We just need to know how and where to look.

How do you see Jesus?

By John Grant
Used by Permission
John Grant is a former Florida State Senator and is a practicing attorney

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Hard Hearted

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Hard hearted people are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:17-19

A hard heart ruins, not only your life, but the lives of your family members. As an example, Jesus identified the hard heart as the wrecking ball of a marriage. When asked about divorce, Jesus said, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because our hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” (Matthew 19:8) When one or both people in a marriage stop trusting God to save it, they sign its death certificate. They reject the very one who can help them.

My executive assistant, Karen Hill, saw the result of such stubbornness in a pasture. A cow stuck her nose into a paint can and couldn’t shake it off. Can-nosed cows can’t breathe very well, and they can’t drink or eat at all. Both the cow and her calf were in danger. A serious bovine bind.

Karen’s family set out to help. But when the cow saw the rescuers coming, she set out for pasture. They pursued, but the cow escaped. They chased that cow for three days! Each time the posse drew near, the cow ran. Finally, using pickup trucks and ropes, they cornered and de-canned the cow.

Seen any can-nosed people lately? Malnourished souls? Dehydrated hearts? People who can’t take a deep breath? All because they stuck their noses where they shouldn’t, and when God came to help, they ran away.

When billions of us imitate the cow, chaos erupts. Nations of bull-headed people ducking God and bumping into each other. We scamper, starve, and struggle.

Can-nosed craziness. Isn’t this the world we see? This is the world God sees.

Yet, this is the world God loves. “For God so loved the world…” This hard hearted, stiff-necked world. We stick our noses where we shouldn’t; still, he pursues us. We run from the very one who can help, but he doesn’t give up. He loves. He pursues. He persists. And, every so often, a heart starts to soften.

Let yours be one of them.

When my daughters were small, they liked to play with Play-Doh. They formed figures out of the soft clay. If they forgot to place the lid on the can, the substance hardened. When it did, they brought it to me. My hand were bigger. My fingers stronger. I could mold the stony stuff into putty.

Is your heart hard? Take it to your Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness. You live in a hard world, but you don’t have to live with a hard heart.

Max Lucado

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From: 3:16, The Number of Hope
Used by Permission
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