Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Billy Graham in Quotes by Franklin Graham with Donna Lee Toney

    MY REVIEW: 
    I collect quotes :)! Seriously! My kids sometimes get embarrassed because in group gatherings, I often start quoting some great quotes but have to quickly add a disclaimer that it may not be exactly word for word. I enjoy finding, reading, sharing, and pondering over insightful quotes. So you can imagine my excitement when I received this book to review :). Billy Graham is considered one of the most respectable and well-known preachers, authors, and evangelists in the world. People listen when he speaks, especially since he speaks as an experienced, faithful, and devoted ambassador of Christ. This book is definitely a precious gem! It's a wonderful collection of Billy Graham's quotes that cover a wide range of topics (107 in total) from abortion, addiction, angels, anxiety, God's will, Heaven, living the Christian life to marriage, suffering, temptation, war, witnessing, world evangelism, and young people. Over 1,500 quotes (taken from Billy Graham's writings from 1947 to 2010)! Each topic starts with a Bible verse that is relevant to that topic.

    Arranged under topics in alphabetical order (from A to Y), it is very easy to look up quotes that I am curious about or want to find while doing a Bible study on a certain topic. The book is packed with Godly wisdom and insights gained from Billy Graham's personal experience of walking with Jesus for more than seventy years. Every page is filled with Biblical truth, hope, faith, encouragement, and heartfelt messages of conviction from a man after God's own heart. His wisdom stems from his knowledge & understanding of God's Word and his words are based upon the Word of God; therefore, these quotes are Biblically sound, meaningful, and inspirational. I highly recommend this book which offers readers a wealth of spiritual nuggets for everyday living! Let's learn from the 94 year old evangelist who has learned much from the Lord over the years. I've discovered so many excellent quotes that have now become some of my favorites :). I'd like to share a few here to whet your appetite...

    "This 'I' was made in the image of God for fellowship with God.
    Without God it is miserable, empty, confused, and frustrated.
    Without God life has no meaning; but with God at its center there is life, an inner strength and peace, a deep satisfaction, an unfading joy known only to those who know Jesus Christ
    ." (p. 204) 


    "There comes a moment when we all must realize that life is short, and in the end the only thing that really counts is not how others see us, but how God sees us." (p. 210)

    "Patience is part of true Christlikeness, something we so often admire in others without demanding it of ourselves." (p. 250)


    A note from Franklin Graham:
    "My father, Billy Graham, is known for speaking out about the one and only thing that matters in this world: the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He remembers the call of God seven decades ago to preach the Word of God to all those who would listen about salvation that comes only through Christ. He took this high calling with seriousness and boldness in obedience to God and once said, 'I will travel anywhere in the world to preach if there are no strings on what I am to say.'"My father has always prayed that his words would reflect God's standard of truth as the basis to claim, 'I have given them Your word' (John 17:14). In this book, I believe you will see that he has faithfully spoken God's Word that quenches the thirst of those seeking to draw from the wellsprings of Life. It is highly meaningful to see these statements now collected in one volume."

    ~ I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Friday, July 26, 2013

    Save the Wanderers (James 5:19-20)

    - If we see a fellow Christian wander from the truth/the doctrines of the Christian faith and/or the moral responsibilities from God's Word, we should try to bring that person back into fellowship with Christ. Point them back to the Truth! If you do that, you'll save them from death/destruction and they will be forgiven. That's true love! "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)
    - If you see a brother or sister in Christ living in sin or believing in false teaching but you don't say anything to him/her or don't try to turn them from the error of their way, that's not love. Pray for them and pray for God's wisdom and guidance to show you how to bring them back. Speak the truth in love and with grace, respect, and gentleness but by all means, speak God's truth! Don't ever sacrifice the truth on the altar of "grace", political correctness, or fear of being labeled "judgmental" or narrow-minded or preachy. Don't ever minimize the seriousness of sin (our need for repentance). If you truly love them, you'll care about their spiritual well-being/the condition of their soul and you'll do all you can to rescue them.

    Friday's Fave Five #85

    It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

    My Fave Five this week:-
    1.
    We watched Letters to God DVD. Love it! Sad but so good. I was in tears. How thankful I am for the hope we have in Jesus Christ!

    2. My daughter turned 20 this past Tuesday. We celebrated her birthday earlier with family on Saturday. We had a blast playing a spy game (many rounds) and improv games.

    3. Fresh fruits and Smashing Smoothies...very refreshing on a sweaty, sticky day :)!
    ‪#‎mangoes‬ ‪#‎blueberries‬ ‪#‎lychees‬ ‪#‎greekyogurt‬ ‪#‎vanillaicecream‬ ‪#‎healthyandyummy‬


    4. Walking and worshiping the Lord (while listening to my mp3 player) at the same time during late evening in beautiful breezy weather...

    5. My husband took 2 days off from work this week. The kids and I love having him home with us. We also enjoy going to YMCA to exercise (and get out of the heat :)).


    Extra: You can enter to win a copy of Adventures in Odyssey 90 Devotions for Kids on my other blog at http://fivesavedbygrace.blogspot.com/2013/07/acts-part-iii-grow-in-your-walk-with.html ! Ends 7/31

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Pray Earnestly (James 5:17-18)

    Elijah was a human being just like us with no special power. He's not a superhero . God is the Almighty One Who has the power to withhold rain and to send rain (1 Kings 17:1, 1 Kings 18). However, Elijah's earnest prayer is being used here as an incentive for us to pray. Want to see God's miracles? Pray!

    "Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask!" ~Billy Graham

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    Confess and Pray (James 5:15-16)

    - "Prayer offered in faith" reminds me of James 1:6-7.
    - God answers believing prayer but not always the way we want or expect. All prayer, including prayer for healing, is subject to the will of God. We must trust God, His will, His wisdom, and His timing. He knows what's best for us and He loves us!
    - Believers are to confess their sins to one another so that they may pray for one another.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Better Uses of the Tongue

    "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.
    Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
    Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
    " James 5:13-14

    - Better uses of the tongue: pray, sing songs of praise, and call the elders to pray over sick people.
    - Focus on God whether you're in trouble, or happy, or sick.
    - Oil is used perhaps because of its therapeutic value. Lots of essential oils have been recognized for their medical treatment.

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Yes or No (James 5:12)

    - "Above all" hints special emphasis and importance...so pay attention!
    - Tongue again :)! It's the cause of so much trouble. Swearing is displeasing to God. Do not swear! Don't use the name of Heaven, earth, or anything else to make a promise or to prove what you say. We are to speak the truth on all occasions.
    - Have unquestionable integrity at all times! Say what you mean and mean what you say. Honoring our words is what honors God. Whatever we say (yes or no), we must be committed to. We don't have to ever swear to differentiate our normal 'yes' from our 'I really mean it, yes'. Make a simple 'Yes' or 'No' completely binding. It's a matter of honesty/ truthfulness and integrity.
    - If others cannot trust your words, how can they trust your Christian beliefs? Just as your tongue can destroy lives and your testimony with gossip and criticism, your tongue can destroy others and ruin your testimony about God by uttering a 'yes' or 'no' that you do not honor.

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    Example of Patience (James 5:10-11)

    - The prophets suffered a lot (they were often persecuted and were the target of grumbling and criticism) but they were patient. They were blessed because they didn't give up. We have their example to remind us that God will prevail and that there's an end to all sufferings.
    - Job was a great example of steadfastness. Patient endurance stems from the conviction that hardships are not meaningless, but God has some purpose in them which He will accomplish. Whenever we're tempted to think about how bad our situation is, the example of Job brings us back to reality :). He lost all his kids, all his possessions, his health, and his reputation.
    - We Christians have the unique privilege of knowing the ending. We're on the winning team! This should instill great confidence, comfort, peace, and patience in us. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy!!!

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    Wait Patiently (James 5:7-9)

    - James tries to give an encouragement and counseling to the oppressed poor...that they should bear patiently their social and economic situation in view of the imminent return of the Lord. Be patient with other people, even the oppressors of the world because Jesus will return soon and correct all wrongs!
    - One day the Lord will return and all suffering will be over. Let's keep our eyes and our hearts fixed on that glorious day! Christians ought to be patient and stand firm (not give up hope) when facing adversities.
    - Be patient like a farmer. The farmer patiently waits because he understands the process and realizes it takes time. His expectations (of the final outcome) and his knowledge cultivate patience. We, too, can be patient because we know how it's all going to end and realize that we must wait until the Lord returns.
    - "Stand firm": a firm resolution, an unbreakable conviction, a purposeful effort to endure until the Lord returns...no matter what the world and Satan throw at us.
    - While we wait for the Lord's return, we're warned not to be grumbling against fellow Christians. Quit griping one another. We're on the same side/same team. Jesus prays for the unity of the Body of Christ. Let's love one another and edify one another, instead of complaining/grumbling.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    What to Do with Wealth (James 5:1-6)

    - This is a grave warning to the rich who oppress field workers for personal gain.
    - There are many negative effects that wealth can have on people's lives. The culprit is not the wealth or the money itself. It's the love and lust for money and the failure in stewardship. "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Timothy 6:9-10
    - All riches in this life not invested in Heavenly treasure are doomed to destruction. All the earthly possessions/wealth will rot, decay, be gone. We cannot take any of it with us when we die. How foolish it is for us to spend our whole life hoarding wealth! There are many stories/examples about wealthy people who end up miserable and lost at the end of their lives.
    - Wealth is meant to be used for good purposes...for the good of mankind. We're blessed to be a blessing to others/to share with others (especially those in need), not to hoard for ourselves. We should use our resources for God's glory and God's kingdom, not ours.
    - Though the rich oppressors didn't realize it, wealth was destroying them and their last days were already present and misery/judgment was coming on them.
    - Their first sin was hoarding wealth (failing in their stewardship of God's resources). Their second sin was the cruel defrauding/cheating they did to the poor farm laborers. The Lord Almighty (whose Name suggests His sovereign omnipotence) is not oblivious to the injustice. "The Lord is a Refuge for the oppressed, a Stronghold in times of trouble." (Psalm 9:9)
    - Their third sin was their luxurious/extravagant living and self-indulgence (pleasing themselves with everything they wanted and going to any length to get more). It's all about worldly pleasures and self.
    - Poor people are dragged into court (James 2:6) and cannot defend themselves. They're completely at the mercy of the unscrupulous rich men. These rich men used the courts to "condemn" and "murder" the innocent/the just. The rich lifestyle can be addicting and become a consuming sin that leads to other sins. The thought and pursuit of it becomes the primary focus in life (we even see this in some Christians---ex: Prosperity Gospel).
    - What God is condemning: cheating, taking advantage of people, dishonorable ways of obtaining and using wealth, hoarding, flaunting of wealth with luxurious living and self-indulgence. By doing these things, they were dishonoring God Who was the One Who blessed them in the first place.
    - We must examine ourselves. I'm pretty sure all of us here are "rich" :) (according to the Bible, being "rich" is having more than what we need to survive today). Are we generous? It may not involve cheating people out of pay but simply an attitude of being as stingy as possible to keep more money for ourselves. It's a mindset that is self-focused and is not being considerate about others. Remember that God loves a cheerful giver and it is more blessed to give than to receive :)!

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Sin of Omission (James 4:17)

    - What a great concluding statement ! James is warning his readers who are Christians. They know that humility and dependence upon God are essential in Christian living but if they refuse to do it, they choose to sin. No excuses!
    - It comes back to putting your faith in action again. Do what is right (in God's eyes/according to God's Word)! If we know the right thing/the good deeds we ought to do but we don't do it, we sin (commit sin of omission). Sometimes sin of omission can be trickier to pinpoint than sin of commission (doing what we shouldn't do). We're more aware of the things we shouldn't do because we would be ashamed of them. But how about the things we should be doing but we don't do? Satan loves it when Christians become complacent, inactive, divisive, self-reliant, worldly, lazy,...pretty much ineffective and useless for the Kingdom of God.
    - Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we love You and desire to obey, please, and honor You in all we do and say. Please give us eyes to see where and how we may be a blessing to others. Please give us Your love for those around us. Please forgive us for times when we should have done something but we didn't. Please empower us to do all that you call us to do. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
    - The song "Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath came to mind. I'd like to share this video (with the song) my daughter made 2 years ago (a slideshow of her short term mission trip onboard the Logos Hope).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFoYAsvXTF0

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Mere Mist (James 4:13-16)

    - It's about the attitude here. There's nothing wrong with planning in itself. However, according to these verses, the planners or merchants here ignored 2 considerations: 1. the finite/limited knowledge of human beings and 2. the uncertainty of life (our life is just a mist/vapor/puff of smoke).
    - James denounces the bragging/boasting (arrogance) as evil/sinful.
    - God wants us to trust Him about the future. You know that common saying, "We don't know what the future holds but we know Who holds the future." Our future is in God's hands.
    - Two opposing attitudes: 1. I'm the lord of my life; I'm in charge/in control. I'm going to make this happen and that happen. With no regard for God's plan for my life, I'll determine what I'm going to do when, where, and how. 2. God is the Lord of my life and He is in control. I submit everything I plan and hope for to His will. I surrender all. I only want His will...nothing more...nothing less...nothing else!
    - We are not promised tomorrow. We must keep in mind our temporal nature and God's will when we make plans. This is another warning against pride and arrogance and worldliness. Our confidence, hope, and dependence should be in and upon God, not self and not the world.


    Deo volente! God willing!
    Dei gratia! By the grace of God...
    #theuncertaintyoflife #lifeisshort #livinginthelightofeternity


    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    God First and God Alone

    What's the second most important decision you've ever made or will make in your life (after the decision to follow Jesus)? I believe most people would say "choosing their spouse." This decision will affect you for the rest of your lives...for better or for worse. It's not like choosing a house, choosing a career, choosing a pet, etc. which you can change if it doesn't work out as planned. Marriage is a life-time covenant/commitment between a man and a woman before God. I've always said that God-arranged and Christ-centered marriages are the best :)! Here's some advice I've given to my 20 year old daughter:-

    - Pray for God's will...for your future spouse (if it's God's will for you to be married someday).
    - Wait for God's best; don't just settle for anyone.
    - Take time to know "that special someone" for at least a year (all four seasons), preferably longer.
    - Never agree to marry someone out of sympathy, desperation, loneliness, fear, or desire to escape from a bad situation.
    - Keep yourself sexually pure; save yourself (sexually and emotionally) for your future spouse and expect the same from him.
    - Make sure he loves God more than you. How is his relationship with Christ? Is he a man after God's own heart (passionate for God and for living for God)?
    - Does he encourage and edify you in your walk with Christ? Does your relationship with him help you grow stronger and deeper in your relationship with your Lord and Savior? Or does it distract you and cause the opposite effect?
    - Do you see Christ and Christlikeness in him? Nobody is perfect but is he humble before God and you to admit when he's wrong and to repent and ask for forgiveness?
    - Watch how he treats his own parents and siblings, your parents and siblings, friends, the Body of Christ, and even enemies (if there are any).
    - How does he react to frustrations, failures, disappointments, obstacles, adversities, and trials? How well does he control his temper? Does he respect you and your opinions?
    - Make sure he shares the same vision and values as you do. You both need to move forward in the same direction.
    - Love unconditionally, unselfishly, and sacrificially. Give, forgive, and serve freely and faithfully. Put others above yourself; look for ways to meet their needs (instead of demanding that they meet your needs). You'll have to choose to love like Jesus and put these things into action over and over again. If you're not willing or not ready to live this way intentionally (it's a choice you make, not based on feelings) on a daily basis, don't get married yet. One main cause for divorces and unhappy marriages is selfishness/self-centeredness.
    - Is it a joy/a pleasure to respect and submit to him? Does he make it easy for you or difficult for you?
    - Can you trust him with your life? Without absolute trust in each other, the relationship will falter.
    - Imagine what it would be like to spend your every day with "this person" for the rest of your life. A "way out" (divorce) is not an option.
    - Discuss your dreams, your weaknesses, your strengths, your passions, your future expectations, your needs/your wants, the way you handle money, how many kids you hope to have, parenting styles, where you will live, how you handle disagreement/conflicts, ministries you support, ways you want to serve God, your likes/dislikes, your hobbies, your quirks, etc.

    Advice I often give is this: "While you're still single (and when you're married), be completely satisfied, fulfilled, and content in Christ alone!" Some people say that their spouse completes them or some singles are looking for someone to complete them. That's a myth and a setup for disappointment! No one can complete you except God, your Creator. Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” (St. Augustine) Don't expect your future spouse to do God's job; it will never happen! My friend sent me this poem below and it pretty much says what I believe is the first requirement for any successful marriage. God first and God alone!

    Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone
    To have a deep soul relationship with another
    To be loved thoroughly and exclusively
    But God to a Christian says,
    No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content
    With being loved by Me alone
    With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me

    With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone
    Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found
    Will you then be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you.

    You will never be united with another until you are united with Me
    Exclusive of anyone or anything else

    I want you to stop planning
    Stop wishing
    And allow Me to give the most thrilling plan existing
    One that you cannot imagine
    I want you to have the best
    Please allow Me to bring it to you
    You just keep watching expecting the greatest things
    Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am
    Keep listening and learning the things I tell you

    You just wait
    That's all

    Don't be anxious
    Don't worry

    Don't look around at the things others have gotten
    Or that I have given them.

    ~Author Unknown


    What advice do you give to unmarried people? What advice do you wish you received before you got married? Please share. Thanks!


    This post is linked up with Faith-filled Friday @Beholding Glory, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates with God at The Wellspring, "Hear It, Use It", and Inspire Me Monday @Create With Joy.

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    Pride and Self-Righteousness (James 4:11-12)

    - These verses talk about the sin of pride & self-righteousness (which leads to judgment), and tongue trouble (slander).
    - "Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another." Do not speak evil of one another (that means no badmouthing, no unfairly criticizing, no being derogatory, no uttering malicious reports).
    - When we judge our brothers and sisters in Christ and speak against them, we're putting ourselves in God's place, setting ourselves up as the Judge of God's children. In the meantime, we're insulting and speaking against the Law, not keeping it. We're judging the Law to be inferior to our own personal law which apparently approves slandering.
    - God is the only Lawgiver and Judge! He alone can forgive and show mercy to those who have broken His Law or punish those who do not repent. Don't try to take God's job. Who are we to judge, condemn, and punish other Christians (by hurting their feelings and their reputation with our words) based on our own version of justice and law?
    - "Do not judge" is probably one of the most misunderstood phrases in the Bible . You can read more about this issue on my blog at http://bornagainandblessed.blogspot.com/.../do-not... . We're commanded to confront, rebuke, correct, and lovingly redirect those who violate God's law (Matthew 18:15-17; Acts 20:31; Titus 1:10-16). However, the rebukes should never consist of badmouthing/ slandering but should be done with love, grace, gentleness and motives meant to restore that person.

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Cure for Worldliness and Pride (James 4:7-10)

    - Want a cure for worldliness and pride? Let's pay attention to the following 8 imperatives.
    - 1. "Submit yourselves, then, to God." We must give ourselves completely to God, surrendering our desires, our will, and all to Him. Submission involves humility and obedience.
    - 2. "Resist the devil." Satan loves pride and hates humility (he's the opposite of God). He'll do all he can to inflame our pride (arrogance & selfish ambition), spark envy/covetousness in our hearts, and/or lure us to fall in love with worldly things. How do we resist the devil? Follow Jesus' example by answering Satan's temptations and accusations with the Scriptures. That means we have to know what the Bible says. We need to read it, study it, memorize it, and apply/live it. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Satan will flee from us because he cannot compete with or defeat the power of God's Word.
    - 3. "Come near to God." Close communion with God assures His presence and intimacy ("And He will come near to you") and turns us away from loving the world. The more we know God and the longer we taste His goodness, the less worldly things can entice us. We must spend plenty of time with God in prayer and in His Word.
    - 4. "Wash your hands, you sinners." We must clean up our conduct/our lives ("go and sin no more").
    - 5. "And purify your hearts, you double-minded." You double-minded (you who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time), make sure your inner motives are pure. We must choose one or the other. God demands our undivided allegiance.
    - 6. "Grieve, mourn and wail." This is a call to repentance! We should have Paul's attitude, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" (Romans 7:24) We should grieve, mourn and wail because we've sinned against God.
    - 7. "Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom." James wants us to express true remorse for our sin, recognize its destruction, and realize how offensive sin is to God. We must take it seriously. May we never forget the ugliness of our sin and the beauty of God's grace!
    - 8. "Humble yourselves before the Lord." Remember that humility is the key! Don't be prideful and think, "I'm not that bad or I'm not as bad as so and so...". God hates pride! When we humbly acknowledge that we desperately need God's help, He lifts us up. To be lifted up by God is to be rescued, comforted, strengthened, refreshed, empowered, and embraced by our Heavenly Father Who cares deeply for us and gives us eternal worth and glorious riches in Christ. "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." Psalm 40:2

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    More Grace (James 4:4-6)

    - My Bible's footnote says that "You adulterous people" is an allusion to covenant unfaithfulness, referring to Israel as unfaithful wife of Jehovah (Hosea 3:1).
    - Friendship with the world = enmity (hatred/hostility) against God. To maintain friendship with the world is to be on good terms with (to support, to favor, to approve) persons and things and ideas that are at least indifferent toward God if not openly hostile to Him. When we seek after our own desires/ pleasures (as mentioned in previous verses), we're doing what the world does (acting just like the world), not doing what God wants/tells us to do.
    - Our God is a jealous God; He wants our undivided loyalty and will not tolerate divided allegiance. We cannot serve two masters. Are you in or out? You cannot have one foot following the world and the other foot following Jesus. It won't work!
    - 1 John 2:15-17 comes to mind, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever."
    - Verse 6 is encouraging! "But He gives us more grace"! Even when we are wandering off (choosing our own selfish ways/ getting enamored with the world), the Holy Spirit within us jealously tries to pull us back from the world to Himself/ relentlessly works to open our eyes and turn us back to Him. More grace! We don't deserve it but we desperate need it! God knows that it must be difficult for us to live wholeheartedly for Him in a wicked world. Our affection is being pulled constantly by worldly things. We definitely need to humbly ask for God's help.
    - Humility is the key here . God gives grace (shows favor) to the humble, but He opposes (resists) the proud. The proud are those who think they don't have a problem...those who think they can manage things on their own without God's help...those who blame it on everyone else. The humble are those who acknowledge that they struggle with selfishness, envy, etc. and know that they cannot win this battle within by themselves. For the humble, God gives abundant grace (more and more grace) and will help them overcome their struggles.

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    War Within (James 4:1-3)

    - Fights, quarrels, strife, contention, dissension, discord, factions, wars (yes, even killing) are caused by our own desires (selfish ambition, self-centeredness, self-interest, envy, covetousness (desire to get that which belongs to others), lust, pride, wanting our own way). Essentially, they all stem from "me-mentality"/"I want this--I want that"/"I want what I want rather than what God wants and I'm going to do anything by my own power...my way to get what I want".
    - As we mature spiritually and our mind is renewed/transformed, more and more we want what God wants. When we die to self and live for God...when we surrender all to Him, we will win the battle within us. The victory is found in surrender (not my will, but Your will)!
    - Even when we have legitimate desires, we do not ask God because we tend to depend on selves (self-reliance), not on God. We fail to realize that God alone can fully satisfy human desires.
    - The reason for unanswered prayer is our wrong motives. We ask for selfish reasons...for the gratification of our own worldly pleasures. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) The important condition of answered prayer is God's will. We know (from previous verses) that His will is peace and unity, not fights and quarrels...mercy, good fruit, and righteousness, not envy, covetousness, or selfishness. We're blessed to be a blessing to others (this is God's will)! God doesn't want to bless those who will hoard blessings to themselves (which is definitely not God's will) to satisfy their own pleasures/desires.

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Heavenly Wisdom (James 3:17-18)

    - What God’s wisdom looks like: pure (sinless, blameless), peace-loving (peaceable, not contentious or quarrelsome/marked by freedom from strife or disorder), considerate (thoughtful, gentle), submissive (willing to yield, quick to show deference to others), full of mercy (compassion, forbearance shown especially to an offender; charity, clemency, grace), full of good fruit (the good/positive effect or consequence of an action, the fruit of the Spirit--Galatians 5:22 and the fruit of the light--Ephesians 5:9), impartial (fair, showing no favoritism), sincere (honest, without hypocrisy).
    - We are called to be peacemakers...to sow seeds of peace. If we do so, we’ll reap the fruit of righteousness.
    - Godly wisdom is the gift of God; it’s practical wisdom that preserves unity and peace.
    - James 3:18 is in contrast to James 1:20. Peace producing righteousness vs. anger not producing righteousness.

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    Book Review: Limitless: Devotions for a Ridiculously Good Life by Nick Vujicic

    I collect devotionals and I'm very pleased to add this one to my collection! I always love and admire Nick Vujicic and how he uses his life for God's glory and His kingdom. Nick's life is truly a beautiful testimony of God's power and faithfulness. From the introduction, Nick clarifies about the title of this book, "I do want to comment on the title, Limitless, which refers not to my abilities or your abilities but to God's limitless love and power." There are 50 devotions in the book. Each one starts with Scriptures and ends with "Limitless Life" which includes main takeaway points. Nick is honest with his struggles including depression and a suicide attempt. He shares what God has done in, through, and for him and some other people who have overcome obstacles and have made a difference in the world (I especially like what Nick shares from his visit with Billy Graham). Each devotion is short but packed with encouragement and hope, wisdom and insights! Nick encourages readers to put faith in action and to really see that indeed, nothing is impossible with God. Our God is limitless! His message aims to help readers embrace faith, hope, servanthood, positive attitudes, courage, resilience, adaptability, healthy self-esteem, goal-setting, wise decision-making, and eternal perspective. I really enjoyed reading this devotional and highly recommend it! Ridiculously inspirational :)!

    "If God can take someone like me, someone without arms and legs, and use me as His hands and feet, He can use anybody. It's not about ability. The only thing God needs from you is a willing heart. What do you need to live in faith on this earth and then to be blessed with eternal life in the kingdom of heaven? You need a relationship with Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Where you are weak, God is strong. When you walk in faith each and every day, your life has no limits." (p. 2)

     "There are two types of risk in life: the danger of trying and the danger of not trying. That is to say, there is always risk, no matter how you may try to avoid it or protect yourself." (p. 103)

    "If you feel yourself sliding into despair, drained of energy and depleted of faith, ask yourself, What matters most to me? What gives me joy? What drives me and gives my life meaning? How can I get back to that?" (p. 122)

    "Your passion leads you to your purpose, and both are activated when you share your gifts with the world. You are custom-made for your purpose, just as I am for mine. Every part of you--from your mental, physical, and spiritual strengths to your unique package of talents and experiences--is designed to fulfill that gift." (p. 132)

    "When people read about my life or witness me living it, they are prone to congratulate me for being victorious over my disabilities. I tell them that my victory came in surrender. It comes every day when I acknowledge that I can't do this on my own, so I say to God, "I give it to You!" Once I yielded, the Lord took my pain and turned it into something good, which brought me real joy." (p. 148)


    ~I received a free copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

    Envy and Selfish Ambition (James 3:16)

    - Worldly/fleshly wisdom which consists of envy and selfish ambition produces confusion/disorder (such as squabbles and faction in the Body of Christ) and every evil work.
    - This is a proof that such wisdom is certainly not from God. “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33a) “God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5b)

    Thursday, July 4, 2013

    Worldly Wisdom (James 3:14-15)

    - There are two kinds/two sources of wisdom: Heavenly Wisdom (from God) vs. Worldly/Devilish Wisdom (from the world...from the devil).
    - Their fruits are so very different. While heavenly/godly wisdom leads to good life/right living/good deeds done in
    humility, worldly wisdom leads to bitter envy (jealousy) and selfish ambition (self-seeking, self-serving, self-interest).
    - "Do not boast about it or deny the truth."--Our words and action reveal what kind of wisdom we have and whether self or Christ has preeminence in our lives.
    - Let's compare these verses to Philippians 2:3-5, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset (attitude) as Christ Jesus."

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Show Your Wisdom (James 3:13)

    - We need God’s wisdom (we mine God’s Word for wisdom and we pray for His wisdom–James 1:5) and we need the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and discernment.
    - Wisdom is authenticated by how we live our lives/how we conduct ourselves. Even if our w
    ords are wise, a life not lived out accordingly will cause those words to be ignored or rejected.
    - Godly wisdom will be displayed in humility/meekness. We must be careful not to let the pride (sin) creep in. When we think we are wise and know-it-all and become arrogant & prideful, we are indeed fools and lack Godly wisdom. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him/submit to Him (this shows humility), and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes (do not become arrogant/prideful); fear the Lord and shun evil." Proverbs 3:5-7

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    This Should Not Be (James 3:9-12)

    - When you curse human beings who have been made in God's likeness, it's like you're also cursing God, their Creator.
    - Christians ought not to allow cursing (any bad words, swearing, profanity, words that express great hatred or anger) come out of the same mouth that gives praises to God. We cannot pretend that our life is on the right track if we continue to praise and curse with the same tongue. The inconsistency of our tongue will discredit/hinder our testimony and turn people off from Christianity.
    - Our words can be used either constructively or destructively. We must bring our tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to make it an instrument of praise and blessing.

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Tongue Trouble (James 3:5-8)

    - Just as a small spark can destroy an entire forest, our tiny tongue can corrupt/defile the whole body and destroy lives (ours and others').
    - All sorts of evil such as envy, pride, greed, deceit, hatred, idolatry, blasphemy, etc. find their expression through the tongue.
    - People can tame all kinds of wild animals yet cannot tame their tongue. The tongue is an out-of-control, unruly, wild, restless evil, full of deadly poison! The tongue is a primary cause of difficulties and failures as we walk through our daily life. It's definitely a struggle for all of us (more so in some people like me :)). We can't tame our tongue but God can! We need to pray for God's help and we must constantly evaluate the words that come out from our mouth.
    - In 2009, I wrote a blog post titled, "Taming the Tongue". If you're interested, you can check it out at http://bornagainandblessed.blogspot.com/.../taming-tongue....
    - The tongue is truly powerful. It can be used for good or for evil. Here James points out the destructive power of the tongue. Mean words, careless words, and/or untrue words have wrecked many families, divided the Body of Christ, and led many people to shame and despair. We should look for opportunities to encourage, edify, and bless one another with our words. Let's speak words of gratitude and of grace to one another. In our families, let's speak loving words of encouragement, appreciation, and affection to our husbands and children. Words are powerful tools that can be used to build people up or tear people down. Let's use them wisely and for God's glory!
    - Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You know how much I struggle with my tongue/words. Please fill me with Your Spirit so that I can speak kind and loving words to all. Please give me patience, grace, humility, gentleness, and thoughtfulness to bless others and show Your love with my words even when the kindness is not appreciated and/or not returned. Please grant me wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep silent. Please use my words to heal others & give them hope and to glorify Your Name. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

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