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It means peace

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“Be at peace! It’s okay.” John 20:19 The Easy Bible

These are the first words of Jesus to His gathered disciples after His resurrection.

Here they are—gathered together in secret for fear that the authorities will find them and crucify them, bewildered and overcome with sorrow that their Messiah had been killed, alarmed at reports that His body was no longer in the grave. They had given their lives to Jesus, and now Jesus was gone and they had no idea how to pick up the threads of a life that no longer existed.

And now, the last thing they expected: Jesus Himself was standing among them. The laws of the universe had been turned upside down. The inconceivable had happened. Jesus was alive. How do you take this in? What does it mean?

Jesus interprets this startling event for us: It means peace.

It means that Jesus is greater and stronger than those who put men to death. He is the Author of Life. No weapon forged against us can prosper. It means the life Jesus gives is much greater than the life we lost. It means that all our bad news now has a happy ending. God’s wrath is turned away. It means peace.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!
Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Kevin Cole, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Ready

Scott Wilcoxson
Now the earth found itself in a state of chaos. Darkness covered the waters. There was neither shape nor form; all was empty. But God’s Spirit was there, ready for what came next. Genesis 1:2 The Easy Bible

I come back to this passage because here we are.

God gives form to those things that have not yet taken shape. When our lives don’t make sense, God is here, giving shape to our dreams and our experience. The day will come when our eyes are opened and we will see what has always been there, but is now hidden from our sight.

God fills what is empty. Sometimes we don’t have what we should have. In the place where we should find love and assurance we find only desolation. Jesus still welcomes the little children to Himself. He still puts His hands on them, prays for them and blesses them. Though it may seem strange for the grown up you and the grown up me, Jesus still has room on His lap for the little child within.

God’s light overcomes the darkness. Light dispels darkness effortlessly. No incantations are needed. When Jesus enters the darkened room, it will never be the same.

The Spirit of God is hovering—waiting—ready to do the impossible.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from an image by Scott Wilcoxson, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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The cure for double-mindedness

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There is a side to us—that is happy to go to church, to feed the hungry, to help the homeless, to speak words of kindness to family, to read the Bible, to sing hymns, to hang out with God and His people. Then there is another side—or sides—that would rather be doing something different—something very different.

The Bible calls this being “double minded.” (See James 1:8.)

So what is the cure for double-mindedness?

Years ago, I would have said that we should feed our spiritual selves (substitute the word “religious” for “spiritual”), and starve everything else.

I no longer believe that. It is the parts of our hearts that are most antagonistic toward God, most apathetic about following God that need God the most. Those parts of us don’t go away because we become more religious. This was the mistake of the Pharisees. They focused on their religious persona and ignored the monster within. Well, folks, we can’t ignore the monster within. Lofty sounding prayers seem very spiritual, but God would rather have our whole heart.

The cure for double-mindedness is straightforward: Keep bringing the junk in our hearts to God so that He can bring renewal to all parts of our minds. Sometimes that means getting raw and real with God about where we are really at. But if we have two minds—or ten—they all need to be connected to Jesus, because He alone can make the broken pieces whole.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

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Discover God’s love for you

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Adam and Eve sinned. They hid. They sewed fig leaves. But the fig leaves and the Garden could not cover their folly and their sin. Only God Himself could clothe them and take away their nakedness.

When we bring ourselves, naked and bankrupt, to God, we discover a God we didn’t know was there. Adam and Eve didn’t know that the Lord would clothe them. The leper didn’t know that Jesus would touch him. The woman caught in adultery didn’t know that Jesus would free her. Even Peter didn’t know that Jesus would restore him.

Whatever God has for us will be found when we throw away the show, and choose the path of honesty. We must face who we truly are. There is no shortcut for this. Until we are honest with ourselves, we cannot move forward in the Christian life. And we must get real with God. That means we bring it all to Him—our hate, our shame, our apathy, our pride, our fear, our desires—whatever we find inside. This is where transformation takes place.

From the Bible:
Do you think all GOD wants are sacrifices—empty rituals just for show? — 1 Samuel 15:22 The Message

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Vijay Sonar, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Keep watch

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In Matthew 24:42, Jesus tells us to “keep watch.” What exactly does He mean? Are we supposed to keep an eye on the sky? Do we climb up on the roof, dressed in sheets, ready for the resurrection?

If we keep reading, we find out what He means. The remainder of chapters 24 and 25 make it clear that Jesus expects us to look for Him, not in the clouds, but in “the least of these brothers of Mine” (25:40). When we are delighted to serve the humble and weak, then we are ready to meet the Risen Lord in all His glory. And who are the “least of these brothers of Mine”? The needy. The undesirable. Those we don’t understand.

Again and again, God identifies Himself with the poor, with the despised, with the downtrodden and the misunderstood. This is what makes Christianity grand. This is why so many hospitals and orphanages and schools around the world have been founded by Christians. Christianity is not a religion of bullies.

Our God cares for the least of these. And isn’t that good news for us when we feel misunderstood and insignificant—God is watching out for us, and inviting us to join Him in caring for others.

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Darinka Maja, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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The inevitable triumph of Jesus

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We live in a time of great conflict between good and evil, where deception is foundational to the enemy’s strategy, and the battle lines are drawn, not along the borders of nations, but inside each person’s soul.

Jesus long ago envisioned the day when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Jesus walks with gentleness, but that must never be mistaken for weakness.

And what about God’s unlikely army? We are each unique and fragile, like a snowflake. But sometimes snowflakes shut down a big chunk of the United States.

This is one of the reasons I am a Christian. We are on the winning side. Deception will be stripped away. The violent will be dragged away. True freedom and true justice will remain. Nothing can discourage Jesus Christ, and no one can stop the triumph of His plans.

From the Bible:
He won’t quit. He won’t get discouraged. He won’t stumble. He will set up God’s justice throughout the earth. Isaiah 42:4 The Easy Bible

Remember, you are designed to make a difference!

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Emilian Robert Vicol, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Steps to forgiving others

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The Bible makes it very clear that we are not to hang on to our anger (Ephesians 4:26), and that we are to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). How do we make the transition from anger to forgiveness?

Here are the steps. Sometimes we can do this on your own. Sometimes we need help from a godly friend.

1. Focus on the anger. It won’t go away simply because you deny it or will it away. If you do, it will just get buried and come out some other way—ulcers, a fit of uncontrollable rage, consuming bitterness.

2. Figure out why you are angry. Take your time with this. Sometimes the reason will surprise you. Sometimes there are many reasons.

3. Discover why you need to hang on to your anger. Anger always serves a purpose. If you no longer had the anger, where would that leave you? Again, take your time with this. The answer will probably surprise you.

4. Bring the answer(s) from step 3 to Jesus. Own your feelings and beliefs. Hold them up to the Lord and see what He does with them. On this step, most of us need help.

5. When you’re ready, release the anger to Jesus. Let Him carry it for you. This is where forgiveness takes place.

Keep in mind that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness is about canceling a debt. It is about not needing to exact “payment” for the offense that took place. Reconciliation is about re-establishing a relationship based on (re)earned trust.

Forgiveness is not about minimizing the offense. The offense was all that it was. It isn’t about trying to explain it away. It’s about honestly facing what was done wrong, and finding from God the grace to cancel the debt.

From the Bible:
Sure, you will get angry. Everybody does. But don’t let your anger turn into sin. Release it to God before the day ends. Ephesians 4:26 The Easy Bible

 

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Jesus makes the impossible easy

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Sometimes we want to hand our anger over to Jesus, and, yet, we don’t want to. There is a great struggle inside. The Christian self says, “Give the anger to Jesus,” but other voices say, “No way!”

What do we do?

Do we force ourselves to give up that anger?

Let me suggest there is a better way. We bring Jesus into this struggle, because He makes the impossible easy.

When I’m praying with someone who is trying to process their anger, I ask, “Is there any reason why you would not want to give your anger to Jesus? Look inside your heart, and give me the first reason that comes to mind, even if it seems crazy.”

Then we go through the reasons. Those reasons are like chains that keep the anger bound to that person’s heart.

What do we do with the reasons? I don’t do anything with them. I don’t argue with them. I don’t reason with them. I just hand them over to Jesus. “Jesus, what do you want ____ to know about that?” Jesus knows how to cut the chains; I don’t. So why should I try to deal with them?

Pretty soon the reasons are gone; the chains are gone. Now giving the anger to Jesus is no big deal. What was impossible a few moments earlier is now a snap.

I think you could call that a miracle.

From the Bible:
Sure, you will get angry. Everybody does. But don’t let your anger turn into sin. Release it to God before the day ends. Ephesians 4:26 The Easy Bible

More tomorrow…

 

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Trading up with anger

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God doesn’t make mistakes. He created us with the ability and the need to get angry sometimes. But in this mixed-up world, sometimes we cannot use that anger for its intended use—to correct a problem or injustice—because we don’t have the freedom to do so.

So what do we do? We trade up. We hand the anger over to Jesus and see what He has in exchange for us. It might be peace. It might be joy. It might be some new insight that we never had before. It might be a plan. I don’t know what it will be, I just know that any time you give anything to God you always get something better in return.

From the Bible:
Sure, you will get angry. Everybody does. But don’t let your anger turn into sin. Release it to God before the day ends. Ephesians 4:26 The Easy Bible

More tomorrow…

 

Remember, you are designed to make a difference.

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Magdalena Roeseler, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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Righteous anger

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Anger is like dynamite. Mishandled, it can get you into a lot of trouble.

Do righteous men and women get angry? You bet they do! There is plenty in this world to get angry about.

But how and why are they able to get angry without sinning? It is because they operate from a position of strength. When we know who we are, we understand our connection to Christ. We don’t need anger to protect us, because Jesus is already doing that job. We don’t need to solve all the problems in the world, because Jesus is smart enough and strong enough to deal with all the problems in the world. We only need to deal with what He has put before us, and, at the end of the day, we can hand it back to Him and sleep in perfect peace.

From the Bible:
Sure, you will get angry. Everybody does. But don’t let your anger turn into sin. Release it to God before the day ends. Ephesians 4:26 The Easy Bible

More tomorrow…

 

Remember, you are designed to make a difference.

Dwight

Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Uditha Wickramanayaka, Flickr, Creative Commons License

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