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Vol. 7 / Issue 12
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“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15a (NIV)
How difficult is it to push a button on the dish-
washer? My vote is “not very,” but that isn’t the point. What made the whole thing ironic is that I was in the middle of writing a sermon on “happiness.” Let me explain … My wife and I were staying at a condo we’d rented in Florida. We had to check out by 10 a.m. on Friday. Before checkout the renter is asked to do a few things: strip the sheets off the bed, put all the towels in the hallway, take out the trash, then load and start the dishwasher. My wife assigned me dishwasher duty. At about 10:05, an older man and a couple of women walked into the condo, spotted me, and said, “Ummm, we are here to clean. You were supposed to be out of here by 10.” I apologized, thanked them and told them we were headed out the door. We grabbed our stuff and made our way down to the car. Just before we reached it, the guy came out of our room and yelled down to us in the parking lot, “Hey! Thanks a lot for starting the dishwasher. There’s only a few <BEEP> things you’re asked to do and you couldn’t bring yourself to push the <BEEP> button?” I’d just finished writing a sermon explaining that because we have God, our circumstances don’t have to rob us of joy. So, you might think I would respond humbly. Instead, I thought, Oh, you want to overreact and get sarcastic? I can speak that language. I yelled up at him, “I’m so sorry you had to push that button. I’m sure that had to be exhausting,” and then laughed condescendingly. He yelled back at me, with a few more choice words, and I yelled back at him.
hard truth.” I got out of the car, and then heard my wife tell me, “Say a quick prayer on your way up.”
it comes to extending grace over the little things, I should’ve grown up a long time ago.
I headed up the stairs to confront Mr. “Can’t push the button on the dishwasher in the condo but has plenty of energy to yell at me from the third-floor balcony.” After the first flight of stairs, I felt convicted and embarrassed. By the second floor I was telling God I was sorry, and almost immediately it was impressed upon me that I needed to apologize and give the man a tip for his extra work. I opened my wallet, to realize I only had a single bill — which was more than I intended to give him. I thought, Well, apparently giving the man a tip is not what God wants me to do.
Maybe you’ve heard countless sermons about grace. Or even read books about grace. But my prayer is that you’ll see this word again for the first time. I tend to think grace is best and most fully understood not by way of explanation alone, but through experience. Otherwise, it really doesn’t have much effect.
I walked into the condo, and he started yelling again. I sensed a voice inside me saying, One more round!
It’s my prayer you won’t miss grace, but rather will powerfully experience the grace effect in your life — and no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you will personally experience the truth that grace is greater.
Even though I didn’t feel like it, I said, “I want to apologize. I’m sure it’s frustrating to come in and clean up after someone who doesn’t do the little things. I’m sorry. I want to give this to you for the extra work you have to do and as a way to say thank you.” I held out the money. Almost immediately his eyes welled up with tears. He said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” and began to apologize. Now my eyes were filled with tears. I think we both wanted to hug it out, but instead we just shook hands. I walked back down the steps, not feeling proud of that moment, but instead brokenhearted it had reached the point it did. I asked myself, How many similar moments had I forgotten about the wisdom from Hebrews 12:15, and missed God’s grace because of my pride?
The last thing I heard is him calling me “a worthless <BEEP> <BEEP>.” I got in the car and slammed the door. I sat there steaming about how I’d been disrespected.
I wondered: How many times had God wanted me to show grace and humility but I was too arrogant and self-righteous? I sat down in the car, teary-eyed. My wife asked, “What happened?” I told her. She patted me on the leg and said with a smile, “Oh, it’s so cute. You’re growing up.”
My wife said, “Let’s just go.” Instead of listening, I said, “Oh, no. That man needs to hear some
It was her playful way of letting me know she was proud of me, but the truth is, when
I’ve sat through several seminary classes on the subject of grace. I’ve memorized Bible verses that describe grace. But what’s taught me the most? My own story and the stories of others who’ve fully experienced grace.
Lord, I am amazed by Your grace in my life. Help me see, understand and be overwhelmed by Your grace again, as I was the first time. Help me to not simply comprehend Your grace, but live it and give it to others. Enable me even today to extend grace to those around me at work, school, home or church, throughout my community. Lord, Your grace is greater than my hurts, mistakes and circumstances. I am grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:28, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In your life, around what hurt or mistake or circumstance do you need to declare: Grace is greater? With that in mind, how will you look past your pain and give grace? © 2017 by Kyle Idleman. All rights reserved. Used by Permissioin from Proverbs 31 Ministries at www.proverbs31.org Proverbs 31 Minisgtries thanks Baker Publishing Group for their sponsorship of this devotion.
wished the small room would open up and swallow me whole. Just envelop me into an abyss that would simultaneously hide me and remove me. It’s painful to be in a crowded room and feel all alone.
Everyone had someone. Their chatting and laughing lilted in a symphony of connection. I looked around, and there wasn’t a soul I recognized. My brain demanded I just walk up and introduce myself to someone — anyone. But my heart sensed they were all knee-deep in conversations that would be super awkward for me to break into. Isn’t it strange how you can literally rub shoulders with lots of people but feel utterly alone? Proximity and activity don’t always equal connectivity. On the surface, connectivity seems to require that I connect with other people, and they connect back with me. Of course that gathering was an extreme example of being alone in a crowded room, but that feeling isn’t sequestered to that one incident. I can get it when things grow cold and too quiet with a family member. And deep down inside of me, I want to ask for forgiveness, but my pride is holding all my kind words hostage. So the silent treatment continues. And though we’re in the same house, we’re nowhere near connecting. Or that feeling can happen when I’m with a group of women, and I can’t quite seem to break into the conversation. I mentally beat myself up for not being more brilliant, or caught up on the world’s current events and fashion trends. They all seem so effortlessly on top of everything. In each of these situations I’m with people. But I’m so very alone. And I secretly ponder how the events of that day clearly point out other people’s issues: their self-focus, their past problems, their insensitivity. But the problem wasn’t the people at the party. The problem wasn’t my family or that group of women. It was me not being prepared in advance with a fullness that can only come from God. It was as if I walked into each of these situations suddenly feeling like I wouldn’t be able to breathe unless someone else invited me in. The whole room was full of completely breathable air, but since I refused to take it in, I suffered. I can’t expect any other person to be my soul oxygen. I can’t live as if my next breath depends on whether or not they give me enough air for my lungs not to be screaming in pain.
No, it’s not wrong to need people. But some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have for others, which they can’t ever possibly meet. That’s when the desire to connect becomes an unrealistic need. Here’s the secret shift I’ve learned we must make: Do I walk into situations prepared with the fullness of God in me, free to look for ways to bless others? Or … Do I walk into situations empty and dependent on others to look for ways to bless me? People prepared with the fullness of God in them are not super-people with pixie dust sparkles of confidence. No, the fullness of God is tucked into the sacred places within them. The full taking in of God is their soul oxygen. It’s not that they don’t need people. They do. God created them for community. But the way they love is from a full place, not from an empty desperation. They live loved. And this is how I want to live, too. Being full of God’s love settles, empowers and brings out the best of who we are. His love quiets us deep within, just like our key verse Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us. And when we live from the abundant place that we are loved, we won’t find ourselves begging others for scraps of love. We’ll be ready to walk into a room and share the love we already know is ours. Dear Lord, thank You so much for the way that You love me — with a love that can never be shaken, taken or tarnished. Help me look to You and You alone to fill and satisfy my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 3:17b-18, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (NIV) REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When was the last time you sat quietly and simply meditated on how much God loves you? Spend some time today letting Him quiet you with His love.
© 2017 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved. Used by Permission Proverbs 31 Ministry proverbs31.org
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Why Did God Command Us Not To Lie? “The first lie detector was made from Adam’s rib, and it hasn’t been improved on since,” writes humorist James Hefley. According to Heather, age 11, there’s a more accurate lie detector: “Your conscience will bother you. You think nobody knows, but God knows. So you shouldn’t lie.” How do you know when your conscience is speaking? Nicole, 9, says, “When you tell the truth, you feel good about yourself. And when you lie, you don’t feel good.” In “The Book of Virtues,” William Bennett writes: “Dishonesty fully respects neither oneself nor others. Honesty imbues lives with openness, reliability and candor; it expresses a disposition to live in the light.” It’s no coincidence that the two most respected U.S. presidents were known for their honesty. By telling the truth about his hatchet job on his father’s cherished cherry tree, George Washington gained renown for his straightforwardness. Abraham Lincoln earned the nickname “Honest Abe.” These men have served as role models for millions of children and adults. The problem with lying is that once you start, “it’s hard to stop,” says Aaron, 9. “If you lie one time, you usually have to lie again,” says Stephanie, 6. Lying often spreads trouble, says Emile, 8: “If you broke something, and you said your baby sister did it, you would get into some serious trouble.” I wonder if God has some kind of special grace for baby sisters. They seem to get blamed for everything. Speaking of blame, Satan is called “the accuser” and “the father of lies.” Latan, 6, says, “The devil wants us to lie.” And if we lie, “we’ll be following the devil,” adds Salar, 8.
“Lying can cause great confusion among everyone,” says Meg, 11. “If we always lie, then everything will be in mayhem,” adds Paul, 11. Confusion and mayhem accurately describe a world full of lies. You can even lie about doing something good. In the early church, a couple named Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property. When they presented the money to the church, they said it was all the money from the sale, but it was only part. Each of them died instantly because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:32-5:11).
Artist: Ben Thomas, 12 “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). God wants us to know the truth and to speak truthfully to others.
You can fool people some of the time when you lie, but you can never fool God.
Think about this: Jesus Christ is God’s living truth.
“God commanded us not to lie because everyone wants to hear the truth and not a lie,” says Sarah, 8.
Remember this truth: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Some people don’t really want to hear the truth. The Apostle Paul wrote that some have suppressed the truth to the point where they “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:18, 25).
Ask this question: Will you allow the living light of God’s truth to invade your life?
The biggest suppression of truth occurred almost 2,000 years ago when a man who claimed to be “the way, the truth and the life” was nailed to a cross. Jesus validated his claim of being “the truth” when he rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples in a resurrected body. Sometimes, we don’t want to face “the truth” because we are running from God. We don’t take responsibility for the lies we believe about ourselves, others and God. When we embrace the false, we compound our problems. Truth brings us into the light of reality and banishes the confusion created by lies.
Kids Talk About God is a syndicated column by journalist Carey Kinsolving. To access more columns and other free, Bible-based books, videos and artwork, To learn more about the RGV Children’s Arts Festival, please visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org.
Fighting fear Dear Dave, After listening to your show, I want to try to get control of my finances, but I’m afraid to open up the bills. I make about $60,000 a year, but it’s a real struggle just to keep my head above water financially. My checking account is always overdrawn, and I don’t know where to start in catching up. Can you help? Gail Dear Gail, Trust me, I know it can be scary. But the easiest way to attack this thing is by taking one slow, sure step at a time. Try not to let worry consume you in the process, either. First, sit down, take a deep breath, and open all the unopened bills. Throw away any duplicates, and keep only the most recent statements and notices. The unknown is always scarier than the known, so facing the bills and cutting that stack in half right off the bat will help reduce a lot of your initial anxiety.
Next, let’s start a debt snowball. List all the debts you owe, from smallest to largest, making one column for the payoff balance, one column for the amount you need to get current on that debt, and one column for the single payment amount when you get current. Total each column — the payoff balance, the amount to get current, and the single payment. I promise it won’t be as bad as you think.
Dave s y a S
Finally, make a monthly budget. Prioritize your needs, starting with food, utilities, house payments and transportation. When it comes to your debts, pay as much as you can on the smallest one while making minimum payments on all the others. You can do this, Gail. If you’ll follow my plan, I think you’ll see improvement in several areas of your life and you’ll feel good about the progress you’re making, too! —Dave
Husband’s business is dying Dear Dave, My husband and I have four kids, and I make $50,000 a year. He runs a small business that has been floundering for a while now, so we’re basically living off my income. Part of that income is going into the business. Plus, we don’t have much in savings, and we’re behind on our house payments. Do you have any advice? Paige Dear Paige, First of all, you and your husband have to get on the same page financially. Sit down together, and do a household budget and a profit and loss statement on the business. A profit and loss statement will tell you the money that comes in minus the money that goes out. Here’s the thing. If you’re putting other money into a business account, that’s a clue that you’re not making money on the business. Put his rent, supplies and any other business expenses on the profit and loss list, and write out — step by step — what it will take for you to break even in the business each month. If you don’t at least break even, then it’s time for him to do something else for a living. * Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He has authored five New York Times best-selling books. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each week on more than 550 radio stations. Dave’s latest project, EveryDollar, provides a free online budget tool. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.
I’m an entrepreneur and a business owner. I get the allure and excitement that goes along with running your own business. But family and your financial responsibilities come first. You don’t need to put any money into the business account, except for the income he creates. And while you two are sorting this out, use your income to get current on your house payments and attack any other debt! —Dave
The Curious Christian
How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life
By Barnabas Piper // Publisher
Curiosity is such a childish word, right? Not so fast. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we should lose our wonder at the world, or the people around us. When we do, we lose so much because curious is how God made us to be. Without curiosity a Christian’s life is incomplete. His relationship with God is incomplete. His connections to others are incomplete. He doesn’t know how to interact with the world around him—politics, media, art, entertainment, science, and so much more simply fly past or overwhelm him. Without curiosity he can never discover deep things, deep connections God tucked below the banal surface of life. Author Barnabas Piper explores what curiosity is, and how it affects relationships. What if people so sought to learn about each other that the most unlikely people became advocates and friends? It would be transformative, and it would stem from curiosity.
7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life
By Craig Groeschel // Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Every day we make choices. And those choices accumulate and eventually become our life story. What would your life look like if you became an expert at making those choices? In this inspiring guidebook, New York Times bestselling author Craig Groeschel shows how the choices that are in your power, if aligned with biblical principles, will lead to a life you’ve never imagined. Divine Direction will help you seek wisdom through seven principles. You’ll consider one thing to stop that’s hindering you; how to start a new habit to re-direct your path; where you should stay committed; and when you should go even if it’s easier to stay. The book also includes criteria that will help you feel confident in the right choice, and encourages you with principles for trusting God with your decisions. What story do you want to tell about yourself? God is dedicated to the wonderful plan he’s laid out for you. The achievable and powerful steps in Divine Direction take you there one step at a time, big, or small.
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Raul “Rudy” Rodriguez attorney at law
Some historians may argue that among the greatest restoration stories of mankind are the European Renaissance or perhaps the post-World War II era. The cultural movement known as the European Renaissance roughly took place during the 14th through 17th centuries. This moment in history saw the face of Europe evolve with respect to its arts, architecture and long held science tenets. It also saw a rediscovery of the Greco-Roman classical knowledge and a rebirth of the study of Latin and vernacular languages. It served as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era. Closer to home, America saw its restoration take place in the years that followed World War II. During this era, couples who could not afford families during the Great Depression made up for lost time. The mood in America suddenly became optimistic. At that time, the unemployment rate of the Great Depression dropped dramatically and the economy improved substantially. The G.I. Bill empowered many honorable service members to finish high school and attend college. As their skills were improved, so was the financial well-being of their families. But, without a doubt the greatest restoration that can take place is when a person does as Romans 10:9 instructs us to do. Romans 10:9 says: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The message is simple: invite Christ into your heart and make him your personal Lord and Savior. At that time, your restoration will be complete. Next He will do as Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” As you seek and strive to honor God with your life, He will reward you by allowing you to take on His characteristics. Hosea 14:4 says, “I will bring my people back to me. I will love them with all my heart; No longer am I angry with them.” I pray that you will invite Christ into your heart and allow Him to restore you! At my office, I also want to be part of your restoration plan, albeit in a different way. I pray that God will use me for His honor and glory in helping me address your needs. If you have been involved in an auto accident and/ or other serious injury or if you have lost a loved one as a result of someone’s negligence, I will do my best to restore some sense of normality to your life. I will also help you in matters involving family law, criminal law and real estate and will issues. As always, I bear in mind that in honoring God with the way I handle my business relationships I will be honoring you my esteemed client.
Raul “Rudy” Rodriguez
www.raulrudyrodriguezlaw.com Phone: 956.380.1421 / Toll Free: 877.480.1421 Fax: 956.380.2920 / Mobile: 956.655.5455
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