Manipulation. Whatever form it takes…it is offensive – both to God and to man.
Manipulation is influencing others to conform to a way of thought or action…not by their own choice.
To do so…people use flattery…guilt…and position – or even religion.
Perhaps the last is the worst. Religious leaders sometimes define God’s will for others in their own terms – and then impose it on others.
In extreme cases…it can lead to death.
Spiritual leaders need to purge from their influence over others anything that is manipulative.
That calls for the careful teaching of God’s Word. It is the agent of right influence.
Don’t be a manipulator – and don’t be a victim either.
A one-sided conversation. This happens when there is an uneven exchange of ideas and thoughts.
We’ve all been there. We express ourselves…but get little or no response in return.
It’s easy to feel that way when praying. It seems like God is silent…we’re doing all the talking.
Remember that prayer is presence – experiencing a sense that God is with us. There is communication that is nonverbal.
Also…remember that the Bible is God’s Word – His verbal expression – His way of communicating with His people.
It is helpful to blend Bible study with prayer. Some of the Psalms…for example…might be viewed as prayers. They often contain indications of God’s response.
Speak, Lord. That’s a prayer God delights to answer.
For what will you be remembered? That’s a sobering question.
While Jesus was dining at the home of Simon the leper…a woman poured expensive perfume on His feet…and then wiped His feet with her hair.
The disciples thought it a wasteful gesture. But…Jesus commended her for her generous act of devotion.
Then…He made the statement: “…wherever this gospel is preached…what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
For what will this woman be remembered? Her act of great devotion to Jesus.
And…how many times through the centuries has her story been told?
Some might be remembered for wealth…position…and fame. But the best is to be remembered for your devotion to Christ.
For what will you be remembered?
Room for improvement. That’s true for people – but not for God.
Athletes keep training – knowing there is always room for improvement. The same is true for educators…businessmen…architects…and those who serve in every other field of endeavor.
But…not so with God. He is perfect…and perfection has no place for improvement.
God is love – and it is above improvement. The same is true with His grace…kindness…forbearance – and all His other attributes.
This truth undergirds a life of worship. The One you worship is worthy of all adoration…glory…and honor.
God never changes. To do so would indicate some previous inadequacy. His perfection disallows any change in God’s immutable character.
With Him is no room for improvement.
The perfect One.
Change — for the sake of change. That’s the sacred cow that has to die.
Churches are being ruined…because leaders indiscriminately demand change.
They’re trying to fix what isn’t broken.
However…it is true that methods might change — but never the message. Cultural realities may appropriately call for change. Otherwise…passing of time creates irrelevance.
But…that does not justify the notion that change is good for change sake.
Old hymns…familiar worship forms… and Biblical preaching need not be discarded.
What’s wrong with familiarity? What’s wrong with what has been celebrated for generations?
Just because it is new…doesn’t mean it is better.
Remember – Jesus is the same.
The dark night of the soul. It describes times of intense anguish…suffering…and pain.
Job lost everything…including his own health. He experienced the dark night of the soul.
It is an apt description of Jesus in the garden…when He faced the prospect of Calvary.
The psalmist confessed: “My heart is in anguish within me; the tremors of death have fallen on me.”
These are moments when darkness floods the soul…and hope seems distant and remote.
In such times…be reminded that God is with you…and will see you through as you put your trust in Him.
The darkness will pass. The sun will shine again. And…God’s ways will be seen with greater clarity.
Rest in Him.
Sin…crouching at the door. It’s like a ferocious beast…waiting to kill.
Cain’s anger took over when his sacrifice was unacceptable to God.
God warned him: “…if you not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door…”
And…jealousy got the best of him…and he murdered his brother Abel.
The beast of sin did its work.
The same is true today. Lustful desires crave expression. The desire for ill-gotten gain lodges in the heart. Jealousy waits for an opportunity to get revenge.
But…the way to neutralize the threat of the ferocious beast is to live a life of obedience.
Human history is littered with the debris of those who have succumbed to the beast of sin.
So…walk obediently — and you will be safe from the tempter’s power.
The name of Jesus. To invoke that name is to recognize the presence of Jesus.
Peter and John met a cripple on their way to the temple. Peter said: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Later…Peter explained: “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know has been made strong.”
It was the invocation of that name that brought healing.
As you face life’s challenges – often beyond the limits of your strength – let His name be on your lips.
It’s an invocation that not only recognizes the presence of Jesus…but it celebrates the reality of the resurrection.
Yes…there is power in that name.
And…it’s available to you.
The holiness of God. His absolute purity is beyond the comprehension of sinful man.
Isaiah the prophet saw the Lord…high and lifted up. And he heard the seraphs singing: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
His character is flawless…His dealings impeccable…His wisdom unblemished…His love untarnished…and His grace without limit.
Wonderfully…God has created man in His own image. That means that there is a reflection of God’s holiness in man.
It’s why there is a longing for holiness deep inside. It’s why the conscience is troubled when there is compromise. It’s why thoughtful people place a premium on virtue.
So…strive for holiness – and in so doing you will imitate God.
Fruitfulness. That should be the desire of every follower of Jesus.
But sometimes…instead of fruitfulness — there is barrenness.
What is the key to a fruitful life?
Jesus said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…”
In fact…if you’re connected to the vine – fruitfulness is inevitable. There is an enabling power that is flowing into your life.
What is fruitfulness? It may not seem measurable – for it is simply doing the will of the Father. Only the Father establishes the criteria by which fruitfulness is measured.
So abide in Christ…and stay connected to the Vine.
And…the result will be a life of fruitfulness.