The #Faith to Walk on Water

Another great Bible study from GraceThruFaith.

 The Faith to Walk on Water

Impossible goals can be brought into perspective through faith.

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Most people don’t know that when they use the word stress they really mean distress. Distress is the feeling caused when there’s a need to perform accompanied by a perceived lack of ability.

They also don’t know the other stress word, eustress. It’s the opposite of distress, a combination of euphoria and stress. Eustress is the feeling that comes when there’s a desire to perform accompanied by confidence in one’s ability.

With distress the perception is of impending failure; with eustress it’s of certain success.

Distress causes a depletion of energy, compulsive behavior (which actually increases the probability of failure), a general sense of discouragement, and eventually, depression. To sum up, distress makes me feel like I have to perform, but I’m afraid I can’t.

Symptoms accompanying eustress are a wellspring of energy, propulsive behavior, a sense of well being and confidence, (which improves the probability of success) and an intense desire to succeed. In other words, I want to perform, and believe I can. See the difference? 

Read the rest here.

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Sunday Praise and Worship: #Joyful, Joyful

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For the past month or so I’ve been sharing different Scripture passages about JOY on Facebook and Twitter. I started reading Bible passages about JOY to keep my mind focused on Jesus, no matter how I’m feeling. Then it dawned on me that others are probably having the same struggle, so I began searching for passages to share on social media.

Beloved, if you are living with any kind of burdens, you know that holding on to your JOY in the midst of those struggles is not easy. It is a choice that has to be made every single day.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
—Psalm 95:1-17

While  you listen to Casting Crowns singing “Joyful, Joyful,” lift up your hands and hearts to “the God of glory and the Lord of love.” How can we not be JOYFUL in the Lord our Maker and the Rock of our salvation?

Joyful, joyful, we adore You
God of glory, Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before You
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away

 

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

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Renewed #Strength

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Renewed Strength

By Patricia Knight

 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31)

Eagles are magnificent birds, flying at level speeds around thirty miles per hour. It is fascinating to observe the great birds soar without flapping their wings for long periods of time, gliding on thermal updrafts, disappearing above the clouds at altitudes of a mile or more.

The eagle is opportunistic and fast. Spying rodents in a field or fish swimming beneath the water, the eagle can obtain diving speeds of one hundred miles per hour, splashing into the water to grasp a fish with its sharp, curved talons. Capable of lifting its prey while ascending at full speed, the eagle may slice the catch with its hooked, razor-sharp beak to eat in mid-air, or it may deliver the meal from miles away to feed eaglets in the nest.

God masterfully created the eagle with hollow bones for minimum weight and maximum flight aerodynamics. Each bird is covered with about seven thousand feathers, tapered for flight and downy for insulation. It has been estimated that, pound for pound, an eagle’s wings are stronger than the wings of an airplane. Is it any wonder our Lord has selected the example of the eagle to promise the renewal of our own strength? 

Human weakness provides the ideal occasion for the display of divine power. The apostle Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove his distracting physical problem, but the Master Physician replied that the better solution would be to convert Paul’s weakness to His sovereign strength. God’s answer prompted Paul to admit, “‘For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong’”(2 Corinthians 12:10).  Paul  established his priorities and trust in the almighty source of all power, who promised to respond to believers with the gift of extraordinary strength. 

The classic example of power in weakness is the cross of Christ. “He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by God’s power” (2 Corinthians 13:4). Imagine the tremendous divine force required to raise Jesus from the dead, the ascension power that restored the Son at the right hand of the Father in heaven. That same immense power is available to those who believe.

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Though our Lord delights in enhancing our physical strength, He is far more interested in providing our strength of character by empowering us spiritually. “‘Let not wise man boast of wisdom or strong man boast of strength; but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in this I delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23).  

The apostle Paul prayed to God, “‘that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you … may have power … to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God’” (Ephesians 3:16-19). How incredible that God desires to share His infinite love and strength with His finite children! His magnificent love measurements are beyond our calculations, unfathomable in human understanding. God desires to fill us up to the brim with the inexhaustible measure of His love.

Paul prayed that the Ephesian church would experience God’s “‘incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength’”(Ephesians 1:19). In Greek, the term for God’s greatness of power is “dunameos,” the  origin of our word dynamite. God’s power extended to us transcends the force produced from a blast of dynamite, the intense power of an atomic bomb, or the energy required to launch a rocket into space. God promises that His power will be available to us upon request, for the purpose of buttressing our stamina to serve Him. Spiritual dynamic power is ours to claim!

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by his grace
gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
encourage your heart and strengthen you
in every good deed and word”(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

We were created in our heavenly Father’s image. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we assume His characteristics of purity and righteousness. God not only commands that we mirror His personality, but that our motives align with His. He provides the inner strength we need to maintain a sovereign replica.

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” (Psalm 119:28). The grieving psalmist asks for God’s encouragement in order for him to endure emotionally. Strength is endowed for truth and obedience to prevail, providing a lesson to us about requesting our Lord’s intervention for our daily needs and emotional courage. Like the eagle who is uplifted in the thermal air currents, our spirit rises on the strength of God’s provisions. 

Extraordinary expressions are emitted from those of us who observe the graceful, powerful feats of an eagle soaring to the heights of the atmosphere. Do we exclaim in proportion to the Designer of such a magnificent bird, for His awesome gifts to us? As with humans, the eagles’ only strength comes exclusively from its Creator. Let us soar in God’s love and glide on the strength of His encouragement, as He lavishes us with gifts of love and power!

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Sunday Praise and Worship: Glory

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This praise song is so appropriate considering that Resurrection Day was celebrated and commemorated one week ago. I don’t think you can sing “Glory” by  Phil Wickham without being filled with the JOY of the Lord Jesus for what He suffered on our behalf. This chorus is my favorite part:

Blessing honor
Glory power
All our praises
Yours forever

Holy, holy
Holy is the Lord
Almighty, Worthy
All the earth is filled
With Your glory, glory
We give You glory, glory

 

Beloved, please join me in praising our Lord through this portion of Psalm 86:

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
—Psalm 86:12-13

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

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#JOY Mishmash

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Today’s mishmash is brought to you by the word JOY. The dictionary describes JOY as:

  • the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
  • a state of happiness or felicity
  • a source or cause of delight

However, this definition of Christian JOY by John Piper is the kind of JOY I’m writing about:

Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.¹

I haven’t done this in awhile, so today I’d like to share another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled “Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When I want to thank God for His joy . . .

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

—Psalm 100:1-2
 

[The  LORD says] The joy of the LORD will fill you to overflowing.
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.

—Isaiah 41:16 NLT
 

We are praying . . . that you will be filled with his mighty,
glorious strength so that you can keep going  no matter what happens—
always full of the joy of the Lord.

—Colossians 1:11 TLB
 

You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy.
—Psalm 16:11 NASB
 

Be full of joy in the Lord always.
I will say it again, be full of joy.

—Philippians 4:4 NCV

. . . I will pray.

Glorious Father,

Today I woke up singing a praise song that I heard on the radio yesterday. I guess it must have settled into my mind because I remember hearing it play through my dreams during the night as I slept. What a wonderful way to start the day! No matter how tired, cranky, or achy I feel when I wake up, praising You in song overcomes any pain or irritation I may be experiencing.

There are so many reasons to be joyful when thinking about You. Knowing I can always turn to You for guidance makes me smile with gratification. Your comforting arms holding me close make me sigh in blissful contentment.

Your heavenly joy becomes visible when I hear the delighted giggling of a child or see the tiny hands and feet of a newborn baby. And how can I not rejoice with You when a glorious rainbow paints the sky? I always appreciate Your readiness to show me the joys in life, especially when I’m at my lowest. You give me joy enough for each and every day. Thank You for Your gracious gift.

Amen.

I have no understanding of a long-faced Christian.
If God is anything, He must be joy.

—Joe E. Brown

¹ How Do You Define Joy?


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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]


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The Gift of Life

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For God so loved the world
that He gave His one and only Son,
that whosoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
—John 3:16

The Gift of Life

 By Patricia Knight

His weakness was overwhelming; his lack of stamina discouraging; his mental acuity often diminished.  He was advised by his physicians that his one previously functioning kidney was presently the size of a half dollar. For nearly two years, kidney dialysis has maintained his physical life, albeit not one of high quality.

Those of us with healthy kidneys have the benefit of constant filtration of toxins from our blood. The maximum filtration his body received was a grand total of twelve hours during three days of kidney dialysis each week. The dialysis saved his life; an imperfect system at best, though heretofore there had been no alternative.

Just as my brother began to wonder how much longer he could plod along, enduring the ravages of kidney dialysis, a distant relative offered his healthy, compatible organ. It would save my brother’s life. The donor confided his sole purpose for sacrificing his healthy kidney: “to make you happy.”

What a hero! His gift did not come without risks: months of compatibility testing, surgical pain and recovery, and his own unpredictable future health. How do you adequately thank an organ donor for the gift of life? I posed that question to my brother.  He admitted that he is incapable of expressing the gratitude he feels for every new day of life his donor has so unpretentiously and magnanimously provided. To willingly give up a part of one’s body so that another person can live is an incredible, incomparable gift.

Immediately upon awakening from anesthesia after the donor’s kidney was successfully transplanted by a team of surgeons, my brother related that he felt well for the first time in several years. His thought processes were instantly clear; mind and body seemed connected once again. He felt like a healed person even though he knew there would be a period of recovery necessary and a future of taking sophisticated drugs to prevent rejection of another person’s organ now residing in his body.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Rom5-6-Heart-Crosses--AMPWe were lost in sin, wading in selfishness, powerless to help ourselves, when Jesus offered His one unblemished life to cleanse us from all sin and to empower us for life eternal. It wasn’t easy. Jesus was required to temporarily give up His life in glory to be incarnated a man on earth; to feel all our pain, rejection, and hatred. Though still God, He became man and gave up His heavenly life so that we can live abundantly on earth and victoriously forevermore.  “Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).  

Jesus Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t a capitulation to the Roman authorities, who forcefully dragged him from an evening of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked, “‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?’” Jesus was soon tried on a trumped-up charge, heckled, beaten, and abused. The ultimate cruelty occurred when he was hanged with common criminals to die a heinous death; His innocent flesh nailed to a crudely-hewn, wooden cross, itself a means of torture. He suffered willingly, and joyfully gave His life, fulfilling His purpose for coming to earth. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Following His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended to rejoin His Father in His glorious heavenly home, sitting at His Lord’s right hand for eternity.

Jesus breathes new life into ours when He lives within our heart. No longer must we lead a fickle, feckless, fearful life. When we gain access to the heavenly Father, our weakness is converted to His strength; we have the capacity to experience peace and joy amidst life’s trials. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

We are transformed, enlivened, and empowered by the supreme life-giving, life-altering sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord. My brother’s voluntary organ donor exemplifies a marvelous humanitarian giver. He expected nothing in return for his magnanimous act. His unselfish gift has enabled another to live. Jesus set the example nearly two thousand years ago when He sacrificed His perfect life for all the sinners of the world. “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:24).

What higher calling is known among men than to offer part or all of one’s own life for another? It is unparalleled generosity. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13).

Christ’s love for us was not only manifested in His words, but also in His willingness to sacrificially die for us.  

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). 

It is the ultimate love gift of all time!

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