Designed for Dependence

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” – Luke 2:6,7 It always amazes me that the God of the universe decided to take on a body of flesh. Even more astoundingly, rather than appearing on earth as an adult, He chose to be born of a woman and to come as a tiny and helpless baby. If you have raised your own children or spent time around an infant, you understand how totally dependent they are. They can only sustain life through the love and compassion of another human being who feeds, clothes, and cares for their needs. Isn’t it remarkable, then, that the One who created everything contained His majesty and deity in a

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Rights Are Useless Without Responsibility

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” – Philippians 2:8 Dallas Willard was a professor at USC and also a great theologian. Dallas wrote a lot about our slogan-driven society, saying that we are “smothered in slogans.” As a philosopher who thought deeply about the mysteries of life and spirituality, he especially loved to pick on bumper stickers. Though there were many phrases that bugged him, nothing got his goat as much as the exhortation to, “Get up and stand up for your rights!” Instead, he wanted a bumper sticker that said, “Get up and stand for your responsibilities!” Why? Because rights mean nothing in a society where people are not responsible. How are you going to uphold your rights if you live in a world where individuals believe only in themselves and not in the dignity

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Allow the Lord to do the Real Work

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” – Philippians 2:13 In continuation of yesterday’s theme of renovating your spiritual home, you may be surprised to learn that I was briefly in real estate appraisal, and worked for a real estate investment company. These occupations look at the values of renovated homes for bank funding; some houses were impeccable, and others you could see were prepared as a flip. Mostly, flips look great on the outside, but as you take a closer look, you see it is not upgraded with the same quality as a home being occupied by the one renovating it.  When we talk about renovating our spiritual houses, if it’s just for everyone else, it’s going to look and feel like a flip. It’ll look good on the outside, but when people really get to

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Renovate Your House

“I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart.” – Psalm 101:2 Home renovation has become a popular movement in our culture. There’s several TV shows, and even video games, dedicated to it! There are people who renovate their home with the premise that it’s going to be their forever home, and then you have house flippers who have no intention of moving in. Jesus wants to help us renovate our spiritual house — the home we’re living in.  Speaking of renovating, we used to do a lot of social work at a church we pastored. The police would call us when they found a pack rat. We went to a home where the police couldn’t get to a lady who had a heart attack; it was that bad. Our church

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Utterly Pure and Persecuted

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care…One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” – Genesis 39:7-9,11,12 Yesterday, we looked at the beginning of the story of Joseph. He was a young and naive dreamer who was sold into slavery by his brothers in their jealousy. After being sold, Joseph’s saga progressed, and he ended up in the household of a wealthy Egyptian named

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Deception Brings Destruction

“But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, ‘First seek the counsel of the Lord.’” – 2 Chronicles 18:4 Being a good leader means we may have to hear things that we don’t want to hear. This was certainly the case for Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, and Ahab, King of Israel. As we learned yesterday, their two kingdoms were separate; however, once Judah began to enjoy great prosperity, Jehoshaphat wanted to align himself with Israel for the sake of protecting his blessings. There’s strength in numbers, and he knew that if he had the support of his northern neighbor, he would stand a better chance should another nation move in and try to capture his wealth. Unfortunately, King Ahab was not very wise — he was full of himself, and he wanted to utilize the manpower he found in his alliance with Judah to attack the northern country of

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Words Have Power

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24 Words have power! This is something I think each of us inherently understands, but it’s easy to lose sight of it in the day-to-day. In our electronic world, we’re bombarded by messages from morning to night. Social media posts, memes, headlines, and texts feed our minds an abundance of words to process — many of them less than uplifting — and if we’re not careful, we end up parroting the negative things that we hear. However, since what we habitually say forges our future, it’s wise to wake up each morning and make a commitment to taming our tongues. Though we don’t want to become legalistic in such matters, as much as possible, we should use our words to speak life by way of Scriptural encouragement, affirmation, and gratitude. When we do this,

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