What is Pleasing to God?

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near”— Isaiah 55:6 (NRSV).

http://www.npr.org

Do you think it pleases our Heavenly Father when we spend more time on our cell phones than we do in scripture? Think about it this way. Does it please you when others ignore you because they’re too busy answering text messages, posting on Facebook or Instagram or answering emails on their electronic devices?

Well-known author and Bible teacher Beth Moore puts it this way: “Our devices have become our vices. We’ve lost the art of reading and meditating on the Word.

“Our cell phones have become an addiction,” she adds. “While they are supposed to connect us, we’ve become disconnected. We are the body of Christ, but we are living disembodied lives.”

Recently, I attended Beth’s yearly simulcast. Focusing on Colossians 1:1-2:9, she talked about what pleases God.

In Chapter 1, verses 10-12, the Apostle Paul writes, “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.”

Turning lemons into lemonade

“—to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me”—Acts 26:18 (ESV).

https://tomdrion.org

In 1950, the small town of Wetumka, Okla. was scammed by a visitor who claimed to be the advance man for a traveling circus. According to reports, the visitor was blessed with a silver tongue and sweet talked the townspeople into preparing for the upcoming visit.

In preparation for the supposed visit, a hotel bought 20 new mattresses for rooms reserved for the performers by the scammer. Another town member made arrangements for a hay shipment to feed the circus elephants. To feed people who would be coming to town to attend the circus, a grocery store owner ordered 100 pounds of hot dogs.

The con man was even granted complimentary room and board while in town. But, after filling his belly and his pockets with the advertising money he’d collected from local merchants, he disappeared.

Of course, the circus never came to town. However, the red-faced townspeople turned the hoax into an opportunity and 67 years later, Sucker Day is still celebrated as a festival with a parade, live music, street vendors, a carnival and competitions. You might say they took lemons and turned them into lemonade.

What does true freedom mean for those who choose to follow Christ?

Understanding the Paradox of Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”—Galatians 5:1 (NIV).

https://thepreachersword.com

To most Americans, the word freedom connotes images of the American flag. We associate July 4 with the freedoms we’ve been granted by the U.S. Constitution. We celebrate our country’s independence with fireworks and parades.

According to dictionary.com, freedom means “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.”

Physical freedom is denied those locked behind prison walls. But those who have discovered a relationship with Jesus while in prison will tell you they are, indeed, now free, in spite of the iron bars they peer through each day.

Only Christ can set us free.

Found throughout the Bible, the word, “freedom,” is familiar to those who’ve read God’s Holy Word. John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In an article by Roger Olson, he writes, “Unfortunately, two very different ideas of freedom get confused in many people’s minds. The biblical idea of freedom is different from, but easily confused with, the cultural value of the same name. And neither one is the same as “free will.” It can be confusing to the average Christian who wants to know what “real freedom” is. Is it having choices? Is it lack of coercion and constraint? Is it being able to do whatever you want? In what sense does Christ set us free, and how is that different from what Madison Avenue and Hollywood promise?

What is Your Focus in Life?

“But God has blessed you, because your eyes can see and your ears can hear!”—Matthew 13:16(CEV).

The Indian Express

When I was in sixth grade, I was diagnosed with myopia or nearsightedness, meaning I had the ability to see near objects more clearly than distant objects. To compound the diagnosis, I also had astigmatism, an imperfection of the cornea preventing part of it from focusing light onto the retina.

At 10-years-old, I was fitted for glasses. Because my eyesight was so bad, the lens in my glasses were thick in appearance, almost like the bottom of the classic soda pop bottle. As usual, children forced to wear glasses earn the nickname, “Four Eyes.” I was no exception. I admit, it hurt at the time.

When I reached high school, my vanity led me to ditch the glasses out in public. My parents wouldn’t buy contacts until I graduated and headed to college. I put up with the hard lenses in my eyes for three or four years until allergies made me forgo them. I returned to glasses.

During the next three or four decades I tried contacts again, this time the soft ones. Again, allergies made me miserable and the contacts were uncomfortable. Finally, I decided to stick with glasses. By this time, the material used for lenses had improved. Although I still needed a strong prescription, the lenses were thinner. I no longer looked as if I were sporting pop bottle bottoms in my frames. I actually looked forward to picking out new frames each time I visited my optometrist.  It was almost as good as shopping for new shoes.

Serving God More Than Leftovers

“And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work”— 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NRSV).

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk

Does your family moan when you serve leftovers or are they grateful for the meal placed before them? Maybe it depends on what you’re serving.

In a recent “Upper Room” devotional, the author wrote, “I often serve my family leftovers to save myself a little time. The original meal is usually delicious. But when I serve the leftovers several days later, I sometimes feel that I haven’t given my best.”

The writer continued by comparing leftover food to serving herself spiritual leftovers as well. She doesn’t always make time for God. He isn’t her first priority. Like many, she says a quick thank-you each morning but doesn’t take the time to appreciate the opportunities God offers her.

That love flows from the very heart of God.

The writer also admits she doesn’t read God’s Word each day.

Just as physical food nourishes our bodies, God’s Word is meant to feed our souls, and we are invited to receive it afresh each day,” she adds.

When Will You Be Good Enough for Love?

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”— Romans 5:8 (NLT).

http://www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com

Growing up, I never felt as if I were good enough. My mother expected perfection from her daughters. In retrospect, I’m sure she followed in the footsteps of her own mother. Both meant well.

When you’re raised to seek perfection, you never feel worthy. A feeling of unworthiness leads to insecurity in all your relationships. Striving to earn the love of others leads to internal conflict. Being a people-pleaser creates a false identity.

His mercies are new each morning.

Until I came to know Jesus as my redeemer and Lord, I never understood the meaning of “unconditional” love. I struggled, like others, to understand how God could love me without any conditions attached.

Pastor Charles Stanley says, “. . . maybe we just feel unworthy of His love. Well, I have news for you: No one is worthy. God’s love is based not on whether we are deserving but on His character—we need to understand that love isn’t simply something God does; it’s who He is.”

Can You Find Your Identity in Four Words?

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God”—John 1:12(NLT).

www.qcrefugechurch.com

If someone asked you to identify yourself in four words, could you do it? Recently, on a social media site, participants answered that question. I did, too. My response was, “A child of God.”

Before I turned to God during a life-changing event over 15 years ago, I couldn’t make that statement. Before I found my identity in Christ, I would have said I was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a high school teacher and a professional photographer. My identity was wrapped up in my earthly relationships and my professions. While those aren’t negative identities, they defined who I thought I was.

“I am a child of God.”

In my late 40s, I began asking, “Who am I?” I was lost. When God revealed my true identity in Him, I discovered how much God loves me and wanted a relationship with me. The shackles fell off. I was free to be the person He created me to be.

When we find our identity in Christ, He begins to work in our hearts. How?