No Condemnation in Christ

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Romans 8:1-2 (New Living Translation)

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Thought to Ponder

Have you ever blown it over and over again?  Well, I have. It’s not a good feeling and it breaks fellowship with God and with those around us that are watching.  I’m so glad that we serve a God that allows us the privilege of being spiritually cleansed daily (1 John 1:9). His death on the cross assures us that we are no longer condemned, yet we often condemn ourselves and others.  Let us put an end to it! If Christ says that as His children, we are not condemned, let us walk in this powerful truth! The sanctification process is just that...a process. Our goal as Christians and through the power of the Holy Spirit is to “blow it” less and less as we mature in Christ.  But, however often or little we fall short of His glory, let us remember that WE ARE NOT CONDEMNED!

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Today’s Challenge

When we are tempted to condemn ourselves or others, will we remember that condemnation was nailed to the cross with Jesus, in addition to all of our sins.

 

 

Live In Peace

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Ephesians 4:36, NLT

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Thought To Ponder

True peace requires true discipline.  I have maintained peace and I have allowed peace to envelop me.  There is a difference.

Merely maintaining peace has allowed me to be silent and polite, yet brew inwardly with ill feelings of being wronged or offended.  To the world, all looks fine and I am handling things well, but on the inside I am dishonoring God. The world would label it as passive-aggressive behavior, but God would describe it as allowing a root of bitterness to grow.  The world would commend the behavior as good self control, but God would call it a sin of the heart.

Being enveloped by peace looks the same on the outside, but the heart is cleansed of all ill feelings.  Justified feelings of anger and frustration, when turned over to God, can be transformed into feelings of empathy and grace.  The person or situation no longer evokes anger, but rather prompts prayer, compassion and mercy.

Living in peace begins on the inside.  It is obtained by confessing our sins so God can cleanse us daily.  We then need to renew our minds, thought by thought, so that we can have the mind of Christ.  We are called to live holy because He is holy. God has not called us to do anything that He hasn’t equipped us to do.  He has called us to be united in peace.

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Today's Challenge

Be deliberate about pursuing a heartfelt peace with a person who is challenging. 

 

 

A Christ-Like Fragrance

"Our lives are like a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God." 

2 Corinthians 2:15a, NLT

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Thought to Ponder

This has been a challenging and high-stress week of urgent care and emergency room visits, deadlines to meet and sick relatives.  In addition, there was still a household to run.  With so much being thrust upon me,  it was difficult to maintain a Christ-like fragrance.

What would our lives look like if we were consistent Christ-like fragrances rising up to God?  We would:

  • not experience anxiety when we were faced with unexpected events that caused uncertainty;  
  • instantly pray and ask God for strength and direction to guide us through any trial, being absolutely confident that He would work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose;.  
  • not be frustrated over another's ill treatement of us, but immediately pray for them and pray that we would love them the way Christ loves them;  
  • forgive over and over again and never hold a grudge, just as Christ forgave us.  

Regardless life's trials, our lives should be Christ-like fragrances rising up to God. This draws people to Christ, strengthens our faith and glorifies God. 

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Today's Challenge

In what area of life or challenging relationship will you initiate being a Christ-like fragrance?

 

Stop Complaining

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5  (NIV)

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Have you ever found yourself complaining about different aspects of your life? Being like being single, things about your spouse, your children driving you crazy or not having enough money?  We can go on and on.  Left unguarded, our minds can think of complaint after complaint at an alarmingly rapid pace.  

Taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ is a challenging task that takes deliberate focus and discipline.  Instead of complaining about the endless amount of laundry,  thank God for the provision of clothes and the family that wears them.  Instead of complaining about being single, thank Him for the time this allows you to serve God and get to know Him intimately without being pulled in a million directions. Thank God when there's not enough money for the keen awareness of each time He meets a need that you know we didn't have the resources to meet.u

Every time I spiral downward into a sinkhole of constant complaining, I pull myself down, along with anyone in hearing distance. It serves no purpose and benefits no one! We are commanded in Philippians 2:14 to do everything without complaining or arguing, (NLT).  That sounds like a tall order, but we can do everything through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13, NLT).

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Today's Challenge

Let's aim to not complain, but if we do,quickly turn it into thanking God.

Are Our Hearts Willing?

 

'All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the Lord . They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle, for the performance of its rituals, and for the sacred garments. Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing. They brought to the Lord their offerings of gold—brooches, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They presented gold objects of every kind as a special offering to the Lord . '

Exodus 35:21-22

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Thoughts to Ponder

There have been times when I've been reluctant to do what God was asking of me.  I was too busy, too tired, too stubborn or too selfish.  What He was requiring of me would have cost me time with my husband and children,  or resources with which I wasn't willing to part. It is sometimes hard to see things from God's perspective and to be willing to release all I have to Him.

 It is very easy to spiritualize why we are not giving our all to God.  Doesn't God want us to spend time with our spouses and children? Doesn't He want us to take care of our resources and ourselves?  Doesn't God want us to give our all to the job He's provided or the education He has afforded us?

All whose hearts were stirred and willing, and whose spirits were moved brought offerings to the Lord.  Where were the other Israelites with their offerings? All whose hearts were stirred means there were some hearts that were not stirred.  Yet, this was the same group of people who would have left Egypt with not one possession had the Lord not intervened.  "The Lord caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for.  So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth." (Ex. 12:36)  So now they are all wealthy, but only some of their hearts were stirred to give offerings for God's work.  That is so typical. We are not so different from the Israelites.  

Everything we have is a gift from God.  He gives us our gifts, talents and all measure of wealth.  It would behoove us to give back to Him what belongs to Him without grumbling or complaining.  I pray for myself and for my brothers and sisters in Christ that we do not begrudge God by being stingy with His possessions.  Everything on earth belongs to Him and whether he asks us to tithe, give an offering or to serve wholeheartedly, we should do so with humble appreciation and gratitude for all He's given us and done for us. 

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Today's Challenge

Ask God to release you from any thought of ownership of anything, and instead to give you an awareness of your stewardship of everything He's given you.  Pray to have a willingness to give God back any of the time, talent or resources with which He's blessed you. 

The Wilderness

'When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle.'

(Exodus 13:17-18) 

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Thoughts to Ponder

In the Exodus passage, God gives us insight into His thoughts regarding why He sent the Israelites the roundabout way through the wilderness to get to the Promised Land, rather than travel the shortest way through the Philistine territory. He led them towards a seemingly dead end and a negative outcome...the Red Sea. The Israelites did not know God's plan or reason for this route, but they followed His lead, even though the journey was long and ultimately seemed impossible.  God spared them discouragement that would have resulted in them turning back to Egypt and returning to slavery.

If you are currently in a wilderness after obeying God, trust that He did not lead you there to discourage, leave nor destroy you.   If you are in a wilderness because of your disobedience, confess, repent, then know that God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. As children of God, we cannot lose!  

God is always guiding and directing us in life.  Obedience is our choice. We must not only trust Him when the road is straight and easy but especially when the journey is filled with detours and difficulties. God will never leave, nor forsake us.  There is purpose in the wilderness. 

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Today's Challenge

Praise God for allowing you to enter your current or past wilderness.  Reflect on the lessons you learned or are learning in the wilderness.  How can you be an encouragement to others while in their wilderness? 

What Is Success?

"The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed."

Genesis 39:23b

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Thoughts to Ponder

I will be turning 50 this year.  I'm not sure how I feel about that. It is making me take a pause and evaluate my life thus far.  I've accomplished some things that people would deem successful.  I obtained a college degree, worked for a major company, got married, had children, bought homes, purchased luxury cars and traveled the world.  Do these things constitute success? I currently do not work for a major company, I don't own a home, I don't own luxury cars, and I don't travel the world.  Am I now not successful? 

Joseph, (in the book of Genesis), after his brothers sold him into slavery,  was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer, but the Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of Potiphar.  After being falsely accused of sexual assault by Potiphar's wife, Joseph was put in jail, but the Lord was with Joseph in prison and showed his faithful love.  The Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. The Lord was with Joseph and caused everything he did to succeed, while in prison.

We would look at Joseph during this time and consider him a failure; first as a slave, then as a prisoner.  But the Lord said Joseph was successful while a slave and a prisoner.  How could this be?  It is because Joseph trusted and submitted to God in every situation, knowing that God would bring about the best for him. This was Joseph's key to success.  He ensured that God was the center of everything he did and that God was glorified in his life regardless of the circumstances. 

I am certainly no Joseph, but I have sought to make God the center of my life regardless of my circumstances.  So yes,  I was successful leading up to age 50, when those in my life would have deemed me a success, and I am successful now as I live a different life.  God was the center of my imperfect life then and He is still the center of my imperfect life now.  This is a successful life.

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Today's Challenge

Strive to be in the center of God's will and allow Him to make you successful regardless of what those on the outside looking in think. 

 

 

Moving Into 2018 With Proper Perspective

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)

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Thoughts To Ponder

2017 is behind us!  Regardless of whether we had great triumphs or extreme disappointments, there's nothing left to do but move forward.  What we need to determine is how will we move forward?  

The world around us is so unstable.  We need only watch one segment of any news broadcast to be thrown into utter despair.  We, however, as Christians, are commanded to have the mind of Christ.  How we move into 2018 will determine how we process the onslaught of negativity that engulfs us. Will we have a godly perspective or allow society to shape our view of our future.  Philippians 4:8 (NLT) tells us to "Fix your thoughts...".  On what are we to fix our thoughts?  Are we to fix our thoughts on our political leaders, crime rate, job market, the Dow-Jones Index?  Or should we fix our thoughts on social media, how many "followers" or "likes" we have or the latest You Tube "stars" and the messages they're promoting? We are to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable.  Wow! What a list!  It seems impossible to do with consistency. However, we serve a God that equips us to do whatever He has commanded us to do.  We are told to first fix our minds on these things, then we are told to think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy.  Furthermore, we are to keep putting into practice all we have learned and received from God's Word.  The more we practice godly thinking, the more like breathing it will become.  When we fix our thoughts on things of God, we are ensured to have God's perspective which yields God's peace. 

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Today's Challenge

As negativity enters our minds, consitently practice asking God to give us His truth regarding each situation. 

But Take Heart...

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 (NIV)

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Thoughts To Ponder

What do we do when the harsh realities of life crash into our happy lives? The day is going smooth and life is moving along well when you receive that life-altering phone call, or news from a loved one that causes your world to crumble. You may even turn on the news to see yet another turn of events that sends shock waves across the world.  How do we recover when the bottom is snatched from under us?  As women, we always want to hold things together, but sometimes life gets too heavy!

Jesus says that trouble will come, but we are to "take heart!".  To "take heart" means "to have more courage and confidence, or to cheer up", according to Collins Dictionary. This message sounds so simple and understated, yet the worries of life make it difficult to follow.  If He tells us that in Him we will have peace because He has overcome the world, then this is the state He wants us to be in when trouble hits. We can achieve this state of peace because we know He will carry us thru the troubles we face.  It is not our job to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Our only task is to trust in and turn to Jesus.

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Today's Challenge:

Allow God's peace to flow through you, regardless of the challenges you may face today.

***Please share your journey of peace and how it affected you.***

What Are You Wearing?

"Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

Colossians 3:12 (NLT)

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Thoughts to Ponder

Most women want to stay current with the latest fashions. We don't want to walk into a function out of style, overdressed or underdressed.  Even recently, when attending an event, a girlfriend and I were texting to inquire about what the other was wearing to the event.  Should we dress formal or semi-formal, wear dark or light colors, ...? This matters a lot to most of us.

What matters to God? He tells us to clothe ourselves with things that have nothing to do with the external.  We are to put on mercy with a tender heart, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  How do we prepare in these areas when we are going out.  I am guilty of making sure my hair is done, makeup is sufficient and clothes are somewhat cute.  If I spent a fraction of that time being deliberate about clothing myself in God's attire, I would reduce the number of times I am caught off guard and find myself reacting to situations instead of having a controlled response that is pleasing to God. 

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Today's Challenge

Be intentional about clothing yourself with God's clothing.

***Please share your experience.***

A Work in Progress

"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."

Philippians 1:6 (NLT) 

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Thoughts to Ponder

It's so good to be reminded that God isn't finished with us.  No matter what season in which we are or what we have or have not accomplished, God will continue His work in each believer until His return.  The Apostle Paul continues in his letter to the Philippian Christians in chapter 1:9-11, stating the following prayer requests:

1. Their love would overflow more and more.

2. They would continue growing in knowledge and understanding.

3. They would understand what really matters and live pure and blameless lives. 

4. They would always be filled with the fruit of their salvation. 

He further states that these attributes, (love, knowledge/understanding, prioritizing and godly fruit),  would bring much glory and praise to God. What a comfort and privilege to know that God will continue to work in us and through us. 

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Today's Challenge:

Choose at least one of the above attributes and pray that God grows you in that area. 

***Please share how you see God working in these areas.***

 

Who Are You?

 

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

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Thoughts To Ponder

How do you view yourself?  Is it through the eyes of others or the eyes of God?  Do you feel pretty, until you are with someone who is thinner, has nicer hair, a more impressive wardrobe, a prestigious career, etc.? Do you feel smart and talented, until you meet someone who has accomplished more than you could ever imagine or dream?  Many of us have struggled with bouts of insecurity on some level. At its core, we fail to see ourselves through God's eyes.  We are women who are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Should we strive to be healthy and reach the potential that God has given each of us?  Absolutely! Our focus, however, needs to consistently be on seeing ourselves through God's eyes and glancing at other women only to encourage them to see themselves through God's eyes also. 

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Today's Challenge

Meditate today on the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

***Please share how this thought encourages you.***

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Called For God's Work

"But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus."

Galatians 1:15-17, (NIV)

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Thought to Ponder:

As children/women of God, we are called and set apart from birth to do God's work.  Like the Apostle Paul, we women each have at least one spiritual gift that is to be used to glorify God, to edify the body of Christ, and to witness to non-believers.

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Today's Challenge:

Walk boldly in your spiritual gift, without seeking approval from others, knowing that when God calls you to His work, He will empower and strengthen you to complete it.

***Please share with us how you walked boldly today.***

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