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In step

RiverOL

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Loyal
Cherie knew she wasn’t as strong as she needed to be. Somehow, exercise just never made the top of the to-do list.

One day, she decided to change. She began exercising.

But as she did so, she quickly became discouraged. She couldn’t keep up with the people in the exercise video. Her muscles screamed at her after just half the repetitions. Plus, old injuries began hurting again. Hadn’t she already rehabilitated that knee? Why was it causing problems yet again?

“I just can’t do it,” she moaned to her friend Anna.

Anna’s reply surprised her. “Why, Cherie, did you expect to get fit overnight?”

“Well…” Cherie wasn’t sure how to reply. In a way, she sort of had.

“Cherie, it takes training and work to get strong. Don’t give up just because you’re not instantly fit.”

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV
 

RiverOL

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Where Are You?
Morning Encounter:
Read:
The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. Right away they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to make something to cover themselves.
Late in the afternoon a breeze began to blow, and the man and woman heard the Lord God walking in the garden. They were frightened and hid behind some trees.
The Lord called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?”
(Genesis 3.6-9)

Reflect:
The first question God asks in the Bible is ‘where are you?’ Adam and Eve had broken the one and only rule God had given them and now naked and ashamed, they are hiding. Blame gets quickly apportioned by Adam to Eve and then Eve blames the serpent. God curses the serpent, but never abandons the relationship with his people. Despite disobedience, the man and woman never cease to be loved by God and as a gesture of reconciliation they receive clothing to cover themselves.

Respond:
Where are you today? Are you feeling shame, guilt or embarrassment? Are you hiding from God today? Be assured that God does not love you any less and that you have assurance to be open and honest. God longs for intimate and honest relationship with you.

Midday Meditation:
‘But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God's love precisely because of his shortcomings, can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not in his own illusions about himself, but in the endless, unfailing mercy of God.’
(Thomas Merton)
Evening Reflection:
Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
 

RiverOL

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A recital of experiences
For reading & meditation: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man." (v.13)

Having spent the past days identifying the nature of the problem which almost caused the psalmist to give up, we pause today to focus on another great value of the book of Psalms - the fact that it presents its teaching in the form of a recital of experiences. We have exactly the same kind of teaching in the New Testament, but there it is presented in a more directive fashion. Sometimes our hearts grow weary under the stresses of life and we are not open to receiving direct instruction from anyone. I remember when I was a young Christian going to church one evening feeling tired and worn down by the strong temptations I was experiencing.

As the visiting preacher announced the title of his sermon - "Fifteen Principles for Overcoming Temptation" - I felt my heart sink within me. His sermon might have been what I needed but at that moment I was too weary to concentrate on principles. When I got home that evening I turned to the book of Psalms, and as I read the experiences of some of those men and found that they too had been through what I was going through, my strength returned and my spirit revived. This is why the book of Psalms is one of the most important and valuable books of the Bible. Learn to turn to it whenever you feel battered and beaten by the waves of life. You will find, as millions have found before you, that it speaks to your condition because the men who wrote it have been in your condition.

Prayer:
O Father, I am grateful to You beyond words for giving me that part of Your Word that reaches me when perhaps nothing else might reach me. Help me to make good use of it and avail myself of its unfailing resources. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Doing God's Works
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
—John 14:12 KJV

Imagine God asking you to give everything you owned to someone else who would do more with it than you would. Imagine giving up your talent, career, family, possessions, reputation—everything you have ever been.
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He let go of everything: His power, His reputation, His name, His life, His history, His Words, His very Spirit, everything He’d ever been and everything He ever would be on this earth, and He gave it to us. Then Christ departed physically to sit at the Father’s right hand in heaven.
Jesus wants to establish His Kingdom in us and reign on the throne of our lives. Paul reminds us, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV).
Are His heart’s desires yours; His plans yours? He will move heaven and earth if need be to accomplish His purposes through you.
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
We All Wander
Morning Encounter:
Read:
He suffered and endured
great pain for us,
but we thought his suffering
was punishment from God.
He was wounded and crushed
because of our sins;
by taking our punishment,
he made us completely well.
All of us were like sheep
that had wandered off.
We had each gone our own way,
but the Lord gave him
the punishment we deserved.
(Isaiah 53.4-6)

Reflect:
Scripture often speaks of people wandering away from God, usually people who have been in relationship with him. If we are honest we might recognise this tendency to wander in ourselves. Maybe we are not as good as we think at abiding in God and staying closely connected to him.

Respond:
As you reflect on these verses today, do you have a sense that you are wandering off on your own? Bring to God your shortcomings with regard to staying close to him.

Midday Meditation:
Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing your praise
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
The mount of thy redeeming blood

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let your goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord,
Take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above
(From the hymn Come Thou Font of Every Blessing)

Evening Reflection:
May the everlasting God shield you,
east and west and wherever you go.
And the blessing of God be upon us.
The blessing of the God of life.

The blessing of Christ be upon us,
the blessing of the Christ of love.
The blessing of the Spirit be upon us,
the blessing of the Spirit of grace.
The blessing of the Trinity be upon us.
Now and forevermore. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
Starting at the bottom
For reading & meditation: Lamentations 3:19-27
"' my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope." (vv.20-21)

Now we come to the turning point of the seventy-third psalm - the point where the psalmist takes the first step toward the resolution of his problem. We must not forget that the purpose of this psalm is to show us how the writer solved his problem, so that when we get into the same kind of difficulty we can apply the same solutions. Here, then, is his first step: "If I had said, 'I will speak thus,' I would have betrayed your children. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me" (Psa. 73:15-16). We see in these words what it was that arrested his feelings of doubt and despair - the thought that if he were to speak out of his discouraged heart he would put a stumbling block in someone else's path.

"If I did that," he thinks to himself, "I would be untrue to the generation of God's children. So, rather than discourage others with my doubts, I will not say anything at all." Some might regard it as strange that the first step the psalmist took on the road to recovery should be one with such a low motivation. Indeed, there are those who have said it was unworthy of him and that he should not have allowed himself to get into that condition. Similarly, when people in the Church today confess to having "unspiritual" feelings, I am sure you have heard judgmental advice-givers address them with words like: "You ought not to feel like that!" But the point is that they do feel like that, and reality demands that we begin right where they are and not where we would like them to be. Personally, I do not care how low a person's stand might be as long as he or she is standing and not slipping.

Prayer:
Gracious and loving Father, teach me how to handle myself in a crisis and help me not to be too proud to begin at the lowest level. Better to have my feet on the lowest rung of the ladder than to be struggling in the mire. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Gotta Get Humble

. . . count others more significant
than yourselves—Philippians 2:3


Let’s first get straight on what “getting humble” is not. It’s not trying to think poorly of ourselves or denigrating ourselves or anything like that. It actually involves taking the focus off ourselves. Getting humble is checking our tendency to think ourselves better than others, or more important, valuable, worthy of time or mindshare or respect. Getting humble is shutting down our tendency to "size people up” and position them on some scale—based on money, title, education, geography, whatever. Getting humble is recognizing all people as the careful works of God, equally worthy of love and sacrifice.

Getting humble is counterintuitive, and it moves against prevailing culture. You see, we men want to feel successful, important—and have others consider us so. Culture trains us, therefore, to promote ourselves; to be strategic with our time and attention; to let positions determine our treatment of others. This training is foolish. It misses the sense and strength of humbleness.

Imagine someone humble. They’re often fearless, able to act on convictions, rather than trying to impress. Their decision-making is often sound, unclouded by insecurity or prejudice. They listen and welcome honest differences. They abide critics, crushed not by their criticism. They’re often magnetic, treating all people with respect. They engender loyalty, camaraderie. King Solomon wrote, “with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). We want to work with humble people. We want to work for them and have them work for us. We want them as spouses, friends. But, mostly, we should want to get humble ourselves.



Practice getting humble. Choose something this week: initiate a conversation and listen more than you talk; serve in a way that’s mundane or difficult (unpleasant, even); help someone anonymously; give someone the credit they deserve (even if you deserve some too).
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Thirsty
Morning Encounter:
Read:
You are my God. I worship you.
In my heart, I long for you,
as I would long for a stream
in a scorching desert.
I have seen your power
and your glory
in the place of worship.

Your love means more
than life to me,
and I praise you.
As long as I live,
I will pray to you.
I will sing joyful praises
and be filled with excitement
like a guest at a banquet.
(Psalm 63.1-5)

Reflect:
In his book Hearing God, Dallas Willard writes: ‘Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs.’ Here the psalmist uses the metaphor of water in a hot dry desert to express his desire and longing for God’s presence. This is a psalm of David who may be on the run in the desert. His lament turns to gratitude as he recalls his experiences of God in public worship.

Respond:
Aim to drink plenty of water today. As you do, let it prompt you to pray this phrase: ‘My soul thirsts for God, the living God.’ (from Psalm 42)

Midday Meditation:
‘O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.’
(A.W. Tozer)

Evening Reflection:
I think about you
before I go to sleep,
and my thoughts turn to you
during the night.
You have helped me,
and I sing happy songs
in the shadow of your wings.

I stay close to you,
and your powerful arm
supports me.
(Psalm 63.6-8)
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
Stop and think!
For reading & meditation: James 1:12-20
"' Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry '" (v.19).

Yesterday we saw that the first step the psalmist took, the step which helped to save him from spiritual disaster, was most surprising. In the midst of overwhelming temptation, he says to himself: "If I give expression to my doubts and speak out of my envious, discouraged heart, I will put a stumbling-block in someone else's path - hence I will not say anything at all" (paraphrase mine). Now as we said yesterday, many people may find it difficult to accept this as the first step on the road to recovery - but it worked, nevertheless. Listen to what one commentator says about this first step: "Our reaction to the discovery of what his first step was in his process of recovery will be a very good test of our spiritual understanding."

What does he mean? He means that if we fail to see that the steps of faith are sometimes very ordinary, then we are not as spiritual as we imagine. It's all right to have your head in the clouds, but make sure your feet are firmly planted on the earth! Keep in mind, then, that the thing which stopped the spiritual slide of the psalmist was very simple and ordinary - he made a decision not to say what was on the tip of his tongue. He stopped to think. Rather than spread his unbelief, he determined to keep his mouth shut; rather than threaten someone else's spiritual understanding, he resolved not to act on impulse. It might not have been a particularly high spiritual motive, but it was the thing that prevented him from falling.
 

RiverOL

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Jesus on the Throne
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. —Hebrews 13:6 KJV

The eyes of God are searching for hungry hearts willing to surrender to the person of the Holy Spirit and thirst to be with Jesus. Christ has determined that we will rule and reign with Him, not just when we get to heaven, but while we are on this earth.

There is a place in Christ that will quench all the fiery darts of the Enemy, no matter the circumstance. With Self in charge, we meagerly try to contact God—flesh to Spirit. With Jesus on the throne of our lives as Lord and King, we experience a supernatural bond. While we stand in awe of God, we will never fear man.
When we have been with Jesus, we will never surrender that intimacy to dance to the world’s song. But if we spend all of our time trying to be man-pleasers, we will ride a merry-go-round of repentance and regret.
When you allow the King to rule unchallenged in your life, your greatest passion will be to see God do His work through you—anywhere, anytime, in any way.
 

RiverOL

Alfrescian
Loyal
Formed
Morning Encounter:
Read:
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.
(Galatians 4.19)

Reflect:
Paul reminds us today that the goal of our faith is more than the forgiveness of sins and assurance of a place in heaven when we die. The goal is Christ being formed in us. We are to increasingly become more like Jesus, not just with external actions, but an inner change of character and heart through the transforming work of the Spirit.

Respond:
Take some time to consider how Jesus might be changing you. Where might he gently challenge you? Where might he encourage you? Pray that ‘Christ might be increasingly formed in you.’

Midday Meditation:
‘Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call "good infection." Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.’
(C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity)

Evening Reflection:
‘Let this be thy whole endeavour, this thy prayer, this thy desire,--that thou mayest be stripped of all selfishness, and with entire simplicity follow Jesus only.’
 

RiverOL

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We do what we choose to do
For reading & meditation: Proverbs 18:15-21
"The tongue has the power of life and death '" (v.21)
We are seeing that the first step the psalmist took to save himself from falling was stopping himself from saying what was on the tip of his tongue. In other words, he took himself in hand. This is an extremely important issue. What a lot of heartache would be saved if Christians would take heed to this and learn to put a bridle on their tongues. Expressions which convey the idea that the Lord acts unjustly or unkindly, especially if they fall from the lips of men and women who have a long experience in the Christian life, are as dangerous as sparks in a timber factory.

Despite his doubts, the psalmist recognised the importance of self-discipline, and that proved to be a saving virtue. People sometimes claim: "It is impossible for me to control what I say. It slips out before I realise what I've said." This is nonsense, of course, for what we say is the result of what we choose to say. Sometimes we may feel as though we have no control over what we say, but that is all it is a feeling. Dr Lawrence Crabb, a Christian psychologist, tells us: "The loss of felt choice does not mean the loss of real choice." When you give a person "a piece of your mind", as we say, there is always a moment, albeit a split second, when you can choose to speak out or stay quiet. We cannot hide behind the excuse that our tongue is not under our control. What we do is what we choose to do. The psalmist, though beset by many doubts and difficulties, chose to control his tongue - and so can you.

Prayer:
Father, help me see that the things I do and say are not the result of compulsion but of choice. I am free to obey or free to disobey. Help me to use my freedom in the right way. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Power, Presence, and Prayer
But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
—Psalm 66:19 ESV

Fulfilling your destiny comes through experiencing God’s power. But you cannot have His power without His presence. We enter into God’s presence through prayer!
The King of Glory is raising an army of mighty men and women who seek no temporal throne or temporal power, carry no carnal weapons of might, and do not stockpile the praises of men. Dead to Self, their only hope is to be seated in heavenly places with Christ, the hope of Glory. They alone terrify the demons of hell and torment principalities and powers because they cannot be bought by ambition.

These soldiers of the King do not chase “superstars” of the faith hoping to get their Bible autographed. They see only One, Bright and Morning Star, Jesus, who has written His Name on the tablets of their hearts. They lay their plans at His feet and embrace His plan for their lives.
Embrace God’s plan for your life today and become a prayer warrior in His army.
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
The New Life
Morning Encounter:
Read:
Don’t be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don’t be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don’t be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols. God is angry with people who disobey him by doing these things. And that is exactly what you did, when you lived among people who behaved in this way. But now you must stop doing such things. You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil. You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others. And stop lying to each other. You have given up your old way of life with its habits. Each of you is now a new person. You are becoming more and more like your Creator and you will understand him better.
(Colossians 3.5-10)

Reflect:
To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote these words: ‘…you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. (Eph 4.22-23)
Here Paul is writing to young Christians at the church in Colossae and is offering them the same advice on how to live as authentic followers of Jesus. He uses strong language as he urges them to kill of their old ways of living in angry, hateful and cruel ways and become more like Jesus by clothing themselves with compassion, kindness, patience and humility. Becoming more like Jesus is an inner work of the Spirit, the fruit of which is love, joy, peace, kindness, patience and self-control.

Respond:
Where do you need the Holy Spirit to give you more peace, patience, joy and compassion today?

Midday Meditation:
God's ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ."
(Rick Warren)

Evening Reflection:
Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you. I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom. Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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Selective expression
For reading & meditation: John 2:13-17
"How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (v.16)

We continue thinking about the psalmist's decision to take himself in hand and refrain from relaying his doubts to others. I feel it important at this point to say a further word about repression and expression. Christians, we said earlier, are never to pretend about anything. Whether we worry, covet, resent, hate, we are to acknowledge the reality of who we are at any given moment.

Fully admitting to ourselves and to God that we are angry, worried or full of doubts, is not sin. It becomes sin when we constantly focus on it and allow it to drag us down into despair. But does this mean that in order to experience emotional health we must let everything out and tell everybody exactly how we feel? The clear answer to that question is "No", but it is an answer that must be qualified. For example, when seeking help from a counsellor or minister, it would be right to share exactly how you feel. The principle I suggest we adopt in relation to this is as follows: we may express our acknowledged emotions only when such expression is consistent with God's purposes. This is a critical point and it must be understood.

The cure for repression is not to "let it all hang out" but to be selective, expressing only those emotions that are in harmony with God's will. We must freely admit to ourselves and to God what is happening to us, but then we must carefully and selectively consider whether it is right and in line with God's purposes to share what we feel with others.

Prayer:
Gracious and loving Father, help me to be honest with my feelings, yet willing to subordinate the expression of them in both timing and manner to Your perfect will. In Jesus' Name I ask it Amen.
 

RiverOL

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In His Presence
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. —Acts 4:13 ESV

Have you been with Jesus? Your family will know when you have. Your friends will know, and more importantly, the Lost will know. When we’ve been with Jesus, a consuming fire burns in our bones. Idols are cast down. Anything that supersedes the lordship of Christ is gone.
Idols are destroyed because our pride is broken. Have you been with Jesus? If you have, the Word is alive, burning in your bones. Jeremiah the prophet cried:
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot (Jeremiah 20:9 NIV).
Have you been with Jesus? If you have, you no longer fear man. Yes, God is ready to move heaven and earth for you if you have been with Jesus.
 

RiverOL

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Loyal
Recalibrate
Morning Encounter:
Read:
Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him.
(Colossians 3.16-17

Reflect:
Gratitude sustains our soul, joy is strength. As we hit the end of the week we can so easily become exhausted and weary in both body and soul. This is a day to practice Sabbath rest as much as we can and a time to be thankful. Gratitude does not grow through acquiring more or doing more, it comes as we look for the good in our lives and thank God for it.

Respond:
What are you grateful for today? As you think back over the week, how might you express your thanks to God?

Midday Meditation:
‘The ability to express gratitude is one of the fundamental signs of life and spiritual wholeness. People who practice gratitude recognize that all of life is a gift from God. They discipline themselves to turn from chronic discontent, complaining, judgment, and dissatisfaction. They learn to be grateful for imperfect gifts and persevere through times of anxiety and frustration. Grateful people express their heart openly and consistently, devote themselves to worshipping God, and intentionally look for areas in their life for which they need to be thankful.’
(John Ortberg)

Evening Reflection:
I will praise you, my God and King, and always honour your name.
I will praise you each day and always honour your name.
You are wonderful, Lord, and you deserve all praise, because you are much greater than anyone can understand.
Each generation will announce to the next your wonderful and powerful deeds.
I will keep thinking about your marvellous glory and your mighty miracles.
(From Psalm 145)
 

RiverOL

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A mature response
For reading & meditation: Galatians 5:16-26
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ' self-control." (vv.22-23)

So important is the point we raised yesterday - the need for selective expression - that we will spend another day considering it. Listen to how the Amplified Bible translates Psalm 73:15: "Had I spoken thus and given expression to my feelings, I would have been untrue and have dealt treacherously against the generation of your children" (emphasis mine). Notice that although the psalmist experienced strong feelings of uncertainty, he refrained from expressing these emotions because they would have had a negative effect upon his brothers and sisters. He acknowledged his emotions, but he refused to express them because he knew they would hurt and hinder the family of God. Expression of our feelings with no thought of another's welfare amounts to sinful, selfish indulgence.

We must allow ourselves to feel the full weight of our emotions but then subordinate their expression to the purposes of God. Only if it is Gods will for us to share those feelings with others must we do so. Thus the apostle could write stinging words of rebuke to the Corinthian church because his words were in harmony with God's purposes. We have to be on our guard here, because whenever we feel angry, and vent our anger on someone, it is so easy to justify our angry feelings by saying, "God wanted to use me to teach you a lesson."It more often than not, if we examine our hearts we will find that our goal was not the will of God but the desire to get those angry feelings out from inside us. Selective expression of feelings is a mature and spiritual response; indiscrimate expression is immature and unspiritual.

Prayer:
Gracious God and loving heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have hurt others by the indiscriminate expression of my negative feelings. Help me understand and apply this principle of "selective expression" In Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

RiverOL

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The Source of Victory
The battle is the Lord’s. —1 Samuel 17:47 KJV

Banners flying were a part of military equipage, borne in times of war to assemble, direct, distinguish, and encourage the troops. They were used also for celebrations. The banner was also displayed to acknowledge His glory and to implore His favor.
The banners that are flying for the Believer today have the Name of our God, Yeshua (Jesus), on them. I believe their color is red for the power of the blood; the streamer adorning the flagpole is for the Gospel—the Good News.
Rejoice that all the giants in your life bend their knees to that mighty Name, for “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves: for the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47 NIV).
 

RiverOL

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Godly Discontent
Morning Encounter:
Introduction
Contentment is a great state to aspire to, and it is certainly biblical to be content with the amount of money we have, to be content in less-than-ideal circumstances, to be content with basic provision of shelter and food. But there is a danger in pursuing contentment too vigorously. That danger is that we are lulled into lethargy and don’t fight those things that need fighting- injustice, poverty, abuse, environmental degradation, spiritual darkness. This week we will be exploring Godly discontent and how it can be an impetus for change, growth and maturity.

Read:
I am sure that what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us. In fact, all creation is eagerly waiting for God to show who his children are. Meanwhile, creation is confused, but not because it wants to be confused. God made it this way in the hope that creation would be set free from decay and would share in the glorious freedom of his children. We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth.
The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it.
Romans 8.18-25

Reflect:
There are two realities spoken of in this passage. One is future glory (v. 18), the hope of liberation (v.21), the expectation of physical, bodily redemption for humankind and all of creation (v.23).
The other is frustration (v.20), decay (v.21) and groaning and pain (v.22, 23). The idea of passively accepting suffering is found in many religions, primarily Hinduism, but it is not biblical. We are to wrestle with what is wrong in this fallen world, resisting evil and joining with God to bring in his kingdom, where justice, wholeness and peace prevail.

Respond:
Have you succumbed to a craving for comfort and satisfaction? When you look around you, what makes you angry? What makes you want to yell at the top of your lungs, “Enough is enough”? How can you funnel your frustration into positive action?

Midday Meditation:
“…the most inspired, motivated, and driven people I know…have a constant awareness that what is wrecking them is wrecking the heart of God. Refusing to stay fed up, though, they instead get fuelled by their restless longing for the better-day realities God says are coming soon.”
(Bill Hybels, Holy Discontent)

Evening Reflection:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
 
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