DON’T LET DISTRACTIONS KEEP YOU FROM YOUR BEST

““Get wisdom; develop good judgment” (Proverbs 4:5 NLT).

One of the most important tests we all face as we try to achieve what God has called us to do is our response to cultural distractions. Can you relate to losing your focus because of any of these distractions?

The distraction of popularity. If you are always worried about what other people think, you will be distracted from your destiny.

The distraction of pleasure. It’s okay to have fun and feel comfort, but if that’s the primary focus of your life, you will never fulfill your destiny.

The distraction of profits. You can’t serve both God and money. Making a profit shouldn’t be the primary focus of your life.

The distraction of possessions. Judging your success by how much stuff you own will keep you concerned about keeping things and maintaining things.

If you are going to fulfill the mission God has given you, you must dare to be different from others. Stay focused on the most important thing: your relationship with Jesus Christ.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren

IT ALL ENDS ALRIGHT

In all things God works for the good of those who love Him. — Romans 8:28
Haman had it out for the Israelites. We read about his story in the book of Esther. A few hundred years earlier, the Israelites had defeated Haman’s people, the Amalekites. Haman was an Amalekite carrying a huge grudge and vendetta on his shoulders. It just so happened that Haman was promoted to a very influential position by King Xerxes of Persia. With this access to power, Haman planned to completely exterminate the Jews on Adar 13, a date somewhere around the months of February and March on our calendar.
Yet, there was another storyline developing that would eventually collide with Haman’s story in a big way: King Xerxes selected a new queen, Queen Esther, who was Jewish.
What situation are you facing right now that stirs in you the same kind of fear the Jews had for Adar 13? Illness? Not enough money? Then take a tip from Esther. She used her influence as queen to talk to King Xerxes. She asked him to allow her people to defend themselves on Adar 13. He agreed. Because of this, when the day came, the Israelites were victorious and Haman was executed.

Early in his dealing with mankind, God promised to bless obedience:
If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. — Deuteronomy 28:13 NIV

Esther did what was right. She took a step of faith, and God blessed her obedience. He will do the same for you. No matter what situation you find yourself in today, God will ultimately win.

Promises from God
This God — how perfect are His deeds! How dependable His words! He is like a shield for all who seek His protection. The Lord alone is God; God alone is our defense. He is the God who makes me strong, who makes my pathway safe. — Psalm 18:30-32 GNT

We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall. — Proverbs 16:33 NLT

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. — 1 Corinthians 15:56-58

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? — 1 John 5:4-5

Praying God’s Promises

Almighty God, You have promised to honor obedience. Help me walk steadfastly in Your Word and in Your promise. Remind me of Your power. Give me the courage to take steps of faith, remembering that everything will end all right.

Thank You that even if my circumstances may cause me to fear, I have the final victory in Christ. I only have to do what is right and place my trust in You. You are my hope. You are my victory.

God, You will accomplish what you set out to accomplish. You are always working for the good of those who love You. I praise You for these promises. Amen.

I Will

I will do what is right and trust God for the outcome. I will not try to manipulate or control my situation. I will let God do His mighty work, and I will serve Him no matter what. He has said all will be right, and it will.

The Best Is Yet to Be

“The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,” says the Lord of hosts. “And in this place I will give peace,” says the Lord of hosts. — Haggai 2:9

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from Faith Gateway.

Plant Today, Then Be Patient for the Harvest

“Let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest” (Galatians 6:9 GNT).

The time to start planting is now.
I talk to people all the time who say, “One of these days, I’m going to . . . .” They’re going to serve more one of these days. Or when they retire. Or when they get a raise. They’re going to increase their giving one of these days.
“One of these days” is none of these days. You don’t wait for things to get better; you start planting now. Why? Because the sooner you plant, the longer you’re going to enjoy the harvest in your life.
But the harvest is not always going to come in your time. There’s always a delay between sowing and reaping. You plant in one season, and you harvest in another.
You have to be patient and not give up!
This is one of the principles that the Kingdom of God operates on. In Mark 4:26-28, Jesus says, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed spouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain — first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (NIV).
The results will come, but they will come slowly and as part of a process. And because it takes time, “Let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest” (Galatians 6:9 GNT).

Choose to forget about last year’s crop failure. Instead, start focusing on the long-term harvest in your life. You didn’t get the way you are financially overnight. You took years to mess things up, and it’s going to take a while to put things back together. There is a time of delay between sowing and reaping.
The Bible says in Psalm 126:5-6, “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest” (NLT).
What need have you been grieving over? Maybe you’ve lost your job. Maybe you’ve lost your health. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Maybe you’ve lost your savings. Maybe you’ve lost half of your retirement in the last few years. Maybe you’ve lost your dream.
Mourning is okay; moaning is not. Instead of moaning, you need to plant a seed, because whatever you need more of, you need to give away.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from Daily Hope with Rick Warren.

GOD’S ANGELS ARE WATCHING OVER YOU

Don’t you just sense your Father’s love in these words? Like a mother hen that spreads her wings over her chicks to protect them, God will “cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge”. (Psalm 91:4) So don’t be fearful of accidents, terrorist attacks, diseases or tsunamis because your heavenly Father loves you and watches over you.
One of the ways He does this is with His angels. God has declared that no evil, plague or accident will befall you or even come near your dwelling “for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways”. When He says “no”, He means “no-thing”! And if He tells His angels to “keep you in all your ways”, it means round-the-clock divine protection for you!
Let me share with you a true story. A Christian was flying his plane when he realized that it was low on fuel. He contacted the air traffic controller and asked for assistance to land. But he was told that he could not land because there was a heavy fog. Then, the radio went silent and the plane entered the fog.
He was flying blindly when he suddenly heard over his headphones, “Pull up! Pull up!” He pulled up just in time to avoid hitting the expressway! Then, the voice said, “Follow my instructions and I will help you land safely.”
He obeyed and landed perfectly. Thinking that it was the air traffic controller who had helped him, he immediately looked for him to thank him. But when he found him, the man said, “Listen, we lost contact with you when I told you that there was a heavy fog. None of us managed to speak to you after that.” The pilot realized then that God had sent an angel to lead him to safety.
Beloved, your heavenly Father is watching over you. That is why no evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your dwelling. And He has a host of angels to keep you in all your ways!

Thought For The Day

Don’t be fearful because your heavenly Father and His angels are watching over you.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from Grace Inspirations.

Victorious Viper

Exodus 7:1-13
Read
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pay close attention to this. I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh, and your brother, Aaron, will be your prophet. Tell Aaron everything I command you, and Aaron must command Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave his country…”

Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Pharaoh will demand, ‘Show me a miracle.’ When he does this, say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and it will become a serpent.’”

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what the LORD had commanded them. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent! Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic. They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents! But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Pharaoh’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as the LORD had predicted. (Exodus 7:1-2, 8-13)

Reflect
God made Moses “like God to Pharaoh”—in other words, a powerful person who deserved to be listened to. Pharaoh himself was considered a god, so he recognized Moses as one of his peers. His refusal to give in to Moses shows, however, that he did not feel inferior to Moses.

How were these sorcerers and magicians able to duplicate Moses’ miracles? Some of their feats involved trickery or illusion; others may have used satanic power, since worshiping gods of the underworld was part of their religion. Ironically, whenever the sorcerers duplicated one of Moses’ plagues, it only made matters worse. If the magicians had been as powerful as God, they would have reversed the plagues, not added to them.

God performed a miracle by turning Aaron’s staff into a snake, and Pharaoh’s magicians did the same through trickery or sorcery. Although miracles can help us believe, it is dangerous to rely on them alone. Satan can imitate some parts of God’s work and lead people astray. Pharaoh focused on the miracle rather than the message. We can avoid this error by letting the Word of God be the basis of our faith. No miracle from God would endorse any message that is contrary to the teachings of his Word.

Respond
Thank God for the miracle he has done in your life, choosing you and transforming you from lost sinner to heaven-bound saint.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from Life in the bluffs.

How to Be Strong

“You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it.” – Deuteronomy 11:8 NASB

There are many types of strength. Physical strength. Mental strength, having the ability to research options and make correct decisions. Strength of will, to maintain the determination to avoid distractions and focus on goals. Spiritual strength, having the resources, discipline, and willpower to have the right priorities, the right sensitivities, and the right perspective.
So, what is the key to being strong? Certainly practice and experience. Solid training and good teaching. Having the right information. And the discipline to put these elements into action.
As they thought about the task before them, the Israelites knew the strength of the people who occupied the Promised Land. They knew that there were giants in the land, that the people had more resources and many strategic advantages. They knew the territory and the resources.
But Moses told them the right way to approach this task. And the right way to receive the strength they needed. It was to keep God’s commands. To do things His way, every time, and in every situation. And, if they did this, He promised that they would “be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it.”
This is the kind of strength they needed for the task at hand. And it was a complete package. Mental strength. Spiritual strength. Even physical strength, for God would enable them to have the ability to do what they needed to do.
This is the way all of us can receive strength in our daily lives. Every kind of strength. Strength to do what is needed. Strength to persevere, face adversity, and overcome adversaries. Strength to have discernment and the ability to do what needs to be done. Strength for combat, and for victory.

Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Father, I depend upon You for the strength I need. Give me boldness and clarity of mind. Give me courage and discernment. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Further Reading: Deuteronomy 11

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from Inspiration Ministries.

Guard Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. — Proverbs 4:23

Have you ever said something and wondered where that comment came from? Or maybe an idea crossed your mind that you wouldn’t tell your best friend about — and exactly where did that come from? Or maybe you did something completely out of character and ask yourself, What was I thinking?

We read in Proverbs that everything — our words, our thoughts, our choices, our decisions, our priorities — comes from our hearts. When a heart is full of God’s love, beautiful words and ideas flow from it. Are you paying attention to your heart? The wise writer of Proverbs warned us to guard our hearts. We need to protect our hearts against bitterness, impatience, and greed, against jealousy, idolatry, and anger. These traits will overtake our hearts if we let them. We must also guard our hearts against unsafe people, unhealthy relationships, and ungodly activities and entertainment.

Protect your heart so that beautiful words, ideas, and actions flow from it, for your good and God’s glory!

Lord, please show me where I need to protect my heart, amen.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. — Luke 11:9

Consider the exciting implications of what Jesus said here: if you have needs, ask your generous Father to meet those needs, and he will grant your request. God will answer, but sometimes, His answers don’t make sense to us, or we grow tired of waiting for Him to answer. We come to the conclusion that God is either deaf to our cries, or He simply has better things to do than to grant our requests. Prayer is more than asking for stuff, though. It’s spending time with God. And as you spend time with Him, you’ll begin to develop His heart for others. Suddenly you’ll find that you’re not asking for a list of things you want, but you’re asking that His will would be done just as it is in Heaven. And His will could mean His saying no to a request you have.

Trust that God knows exactly what’s best for you. Choose to trust His answers to your prayers.

Today’s Inspiration Prayer
Lord, I want what You want for me. Please have Your way in my life, Amen.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE:Culled from The Beautiful Word Devotional.

THE 2 MARKS OF A TRULY WICKED PERSON (PART 2)

PSALM 10:2-11

Greed and pride can turn your heart away from God today too. You may have grown up knowing the Bible, but you are living for yourself. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mrk. 8:36). The wicked boast in their desires, but the Scriptures say, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinth. 1:31).
You might assume that someone who openly rejects God would be struck down by lightning. But atheists often prosper. People who give themselves to gathering money often get rich. And because they have laughed at God and have still been successful, their arrogance grows. They assume that they must be invincible.
His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them. (10:5)
Because he is affluent, he is convinced that nothing can touch him. He has the latest tech gadgets; he drives a new Aston Martin; he goes on the best vacations; he wears new clothes. Success has blinded his eyes to God’s judgment—it is too high for him.
Here is what he thinks in his heart of hearts:
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” (10:6)
The wicked man is thoroughly deceived. He thinks that the blessings God reserves for the godly belong to him! It is the blameless man who shall not be moved (Psalm 15:5; 16:8), but the wicked “are like chaff that the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4). The wicked think they can set up their children to prosper after them. They can put them in the right schools and introduce them to the right people and leave a trust that will provide for them. But the Scriptures say that “the generation of the upright will be blessed” (Psalm 112:2). In his pride, the wicked man has believed a lie.

The Two Marks of a Wicked Person (PART 1)

Psalm 10:2-11
The psalmist describes two sides of the character of the wicked in Psalm 10:2–11. Structurally each description is five verses long and ends with the inner thoughts of the unjust oppressor, “He says in his heart” (10:6, 11). Two words summarize these wicked oppressors: arrogant and aggressive. Their pride and violence spell disaster for anyone who stands in their way.
Arrogance
First, the wicked oppressors are arrogant. The trouble they cause flows out of self-importance.
In arrogance, the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. (10:2)
Where does this abusive pride come from? For one thing, they forget that the rich and poor were both created by God. We did not make ourselves. We did not choose which family we were born into and the opportunities we were given. We did not decide how intelligent we would be, how wise we would be, how self-motivated we would be. All this is from God’s hand. The writer of Proverbs says, “The rich and the poor meet; the Lord is the maker of them all” (Prov.22:2). The wicked forget this. They like to view themselves as self-made men, like sharks made to swim at the top of the food chain. This pride is Darwinian at its core—a survival of the fittest that grinds the poor into the dirt. And in their arrogance, they think God will never do anything. They have nothing but contempt for God and laugh at any idea of judgment.
In fact, they do not worship God. They worship themselves.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (10:3, 4)
The word “for” (v. 3) tells us why the wicked pursue the poor. They turn on the poor and the helpless because they first turned against God.
What does it mean to boast in your desires? That is an unusual phrase. The wicked are proud of their desires. Their cravings are a virtue. After all, didn’t they succeed because of their will to win? Their greed got them where they are.
One of the most powerful illustrations of this came from the 1987 Oliver Stone movie Wall Street. The main character, Gordon Gekko, was modeled after high-powered traders who ran the financial markets like masters of the universe. In one famous scene Gekko delivers a speech to the nervous shareholders of Teldar Paper Corporation.
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.
This quote struck a chord because it hit so close to home. The spirit of American materialism declares that greed is a virtue, that in fact greed is the foundation of success. This is the mind-set of the man or woman who boasts of the desires of his or her soul. They boast because they believe it is a good thing never to be content, never to be satisfied, always to want more. And in their greed, they grind the poor into the ground to get what they want.
It is sobering to notice that these wicked men and women renounce God by his personal name, Yahweh (“the Lord,” v. 3). This implies that these oppressors are not foreigners; they are Israelites who knowingly reject the God of Israel. In their greed, they loved money and possessions more than God. In their pride, they did not look for him. Finally, they denied that God even exists.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: Culled from Rejoice the Lord is King (James Johnston).

God’s Grace and Our Finances

Proverbs 3:9-10
If you knew that something you desired could destroy your life, would you keep chasing after it? The Bible warns about a certain kind of pursuit that can cause one to:
1)Fall into sin.
2)Be mastered by foolish wishes.
3)Engage in activities that erode character.
4)Plunge into moral ruin.
5)Wander from faith.
In spite of these dire warnings, many people are still ruled by a longing to get rich.

There is nothing wrong with being affluent, as long as we follow God’s rules for wise living. Specifically, we are to honor Him with our money, which includes acknowledging that He is the rightful owner (Prov. 3:9; Ps. 50:10). And we’re also to give it cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7). The desire for riches becomes a sin when accumulation is among our highest priorities. If that is the case, the god we end up serving is money.
Believers are to live by grace in every aspect of their lives, including finances. That means we surrender wages, portfolio, and charitable giving into God’s hands. Furthermore, we accept what He gives ?as enough, even when the bank account seems low by the world’s standards. He has promised to supply our needs, so we’re to regard financial gains and losses as part of His will and plan.

I am not preaching a message that suggests godly people are rewarded with riches. Poverty and tough times are as common to believers as to unbelievers. However, the Bible promises that if we live by God’s grace, He will provide amply for whatever we need (2 Cor. 9:8).
Bible in One Year: Job 13-16