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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How are things looking in your neighborhood?

Once there was a man whose life was one of misery. The days were cloudy, and the nights were long. Henry didn't want to be unhappy, but he was. With the passing of the years, his life had changed. His children were grown. The neighborhood was different. The city seemed harsher.

He was unhappy. He decided to ask his minister what was wrong.

"Am I unhappy for some sin I have committed?"

"Yes," the wise pastor replied. "You have sinned."

"And what might that sin be?"

"Ignorance," came the reply. "The sin of ignorance. One of your neighbors is the Messiah in disguise, and you have not seen him."

The old man left the office stunned. "The Messiah is one of my neighbors?" He began to think who it might be.

Tom the butcher? No, he's too lazy. Mary, my cousin down the street? No, too much pride. Aaron the paperboy? No, too indulgent. The man was confounded. Every person he knew had defects. But one was the Messiah. He began to look for Him.

He began to notice things he hadn't seen. The grocer often carried sacks to the cars of older ladies. Maybe he is the Messiah. The officer at the corner always had a smile for the kids. Could it be? And the young couple who'd moved next door. How kind they are to their cat. Maybe one of them ...

With time he saw things in people he'd never seen. And with time his outlook began to change. The bounce returned to his step. His eyes took on a friendly sparkle. When others spoke he listened. After all, he might be listening to the Messiah. When anyone asked for help, he responded; after all this might be the Messiah needing assistance.

The change of attitude was so significant that someone asked him why he was so happy. "I don't know," he answered. "All I know is that things changed when I started looking for God."

Now, that's curious. The old man saw Jesus because he didn't know what he looked like. The people in Jesus' day missed him because they thought they did.

How are things looking in your neighborhood?

A Gentle Thunder

-- BY: Max Lucado

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Using Time Well

Can't help myself to post this one from CROSSWALK (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

This is very timely for me...This is what i really need to do as of this moment. =)

Matthew 25:14-28

As today's passage indicates, the Lord gives us resources and abilities, and He desires that we use them well. One such gift is time.

In order to manage our days effectively, we should continually review them: What activities did we choose? How long did each one take? What were the results? This discipline will reveal what is most important to us.

In looking closely at our assessments, we can determine what drives our decisions about how to use time. Some people merely respond to circumstances for a majority of their day. They jump from one thing to the next, answering phone calls, reorganizing shelves, or doing anything that appears in their world at the moment. But this style of living misses the mark.

Other people spend their time according to desires. They want to relax, so they get home and watch television for the evening. Or they love to hunt, so they use their time to research equipment and locate wildlife in the forest. Desires are not bad, but they should not drive the bulk of our actions.

Thankfully, there are also people who live according to what they deem important. Loving God and serving others, for instance, are two biblical values that should, ideally, determine what we do with our time.

If you itemize your activities and their time consumption over the course of a week, you might be surprised at the dominating events. Each moment is a gift, so set aside a few minutes each evening to plan. Then revisit the way you spent the last 24 hours. This will help you to live purposefully.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.

Click here to watch Dr. Charles Stanley & In Touch Ministries Video Online
click here to listen to Dr. Stanley at OnePlace.com.

Friday, November 13, 2009

When You Are Low on Hope

by Max Lucado

Water. All Noah can see is water. The evening sun sinks into it. The clouds are reflected in it. His boat is surrounded by it. Water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the west. Water.

He sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent, having found no place to roost. Then, just this morning, he tried again. With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck on a window.

All day he looked for the dove's return.

Now the sun is setting, and the sky is darkening, and he has come to look one final time, but all he sees is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the ...

You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You've known your share of floods. Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, stress at the office, anger at the disability in your body or the inability of your spouse. You've seen the floodwater rise, and you've likely seen the sun set on your hopes as well. You've been on Noah's boat.

And you've needed what Noah needed; you've needed some hope. You're not asking for a helicopter rescue, but the sound of one would be nice. Hope doesn't promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope.

That's all Noah needed. And that's all Noah received.

Here is how the Bible describes the moment: "When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!" (Gen. 8:11 NIV).

An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn't that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.

Don't we love the olive leaves of life?
"It appears the cancer may be in remission."
"I can help you with those finances."
"We'll get through this together."
What's more, don't we love the doves that bring them?
Perhaps that's the reason so many loved Jesus.

To all the Noahs of the world, to all who search the horizon for a fleck of hope, he proclaims, "Yes!" And he comes. He comes as a dove. He comes bearing fruit from a distant land, from our future home. He comes with a leaf of hope.

Have you received yours? Don't think your ark is too isolated. Don't think your flood is too wide. Receive his hope, won't you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.

Love always hopes. "Love ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NKJV, emphasis mine).

From A Love Worth Giving
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2002) Max Lucado