“Priorities” 12/02/2018 Posted by Don Merritt for “The Life Project”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional

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Posted by Don Merritt  for “The Life Project” @  https://lifereference.wordpress.com

Original post @  https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2018/12/01/tlp-inspiration12-1-18/

TLP Inspiration:12/1/18

Priorities

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:19-20

Leading up to these verses Paul gave a list of attributes that he attributed to Christ, and here, as a way of summing up he goes the next step and puts all of the fullness of Jesus Christ into perspective.  Notice that God was “pleased” to have His own fullness residing in Jesus, and to have Jesus reconcile all to Himself. If you think about it, if there was reconciliation, there must first be a conflict…

We know that there was indeed a conflict, a conflict that engulfed all Creation the moment that Adam entered into sin way back in Genesis 3. It’s a funny thing, but for most of us, we don’t really think of sin the way we should, for we tend to think of it as a violation of some sort of rule or ordinance. Yet sin is much more than a simple violation; it’s rebellion, rebellion against God. So here we are, God was pleased indeed to place all of His fullness in the Person of Jesus and to have Jesus establish reconciliation on the cross, for in doing so He paid the entire cost of the rebellion: There is now peace between Man and God.

Why should He do that?

Love.

His love was so great that He placed His fullness into His Son and sent His Son to make peace with humanity; that’s quite a thing to ponder wouldn’t you say? I realize that this statement doesn’t pay the bills, nor does it solve all of the problems we encounter in this life, but it does something much greater than simply taking away problems and circumstances. Instead it transcends the problems of the day-to-day and empowers us to see greater things, to set higher aspirations so that the complications of the here and now are put into their proper perspective.

When you come right down to it, what God has done for us through Jesus Christ puts the hassles of life where they belong… on the low priority list.

Wow!

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P.S. (from bruce)   If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

picture credit:   https://www.google.com/search?q=images+sin&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiP2oXZz__eAhWOmeAKHZ-jBzgQsAR6BAgDEAE&biw=1252&bih=880#imgdii=HZBmMZxuB1rhlM:&imgrc=qaEj4nDkt7RMEM:

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“The Right Picture of God” 12/01/2018 Posted by David Kitz for “I Love the Psalms”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

                           Image result for image how we picture God

Posted by David Kitz for “I Love the Psalms” @  https://davidkitz.wordpress.com/

Original post found @  https://davidkitz.blog/2018/11/29/the-right-picture-of-god/

 

The Right Picture of God

 

Reading: Psalm 21
(Verses 8-13)

Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
your right hand will seize your foes.
When you appear for battle,
you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The L
ORD will swallow them up in his wrath,
and his fire will consume them.
You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
their posterity from mankind.
 Though they plot evil against you
and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
You will make them turn their backs
when you aim at them with drawn bow.
Be exalted in your strength, L
ORD
;
we will sing and praise your might 
(NIV).

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Reflection
I have a confession to make. The overall title of my blog is I Love the Psalms! But there are some psalms where the fondness runs very thin. That’s the case with this psalm portion. The pacifist side of me gets very uncomfortable with all this talk of God’s wrath burning like a consuming fire. My reasoning goes something like this: If God gets angry with others; I might be the next one dropped in the toaster.

 

In this psalm David paints a portrait of the LORD as a warrior. I’m not so sure I want to see the LORD as a fearsome warrior. I prefer to see Him as a gentle shepherd—the Good Shepherd—not a God of vengeance firing arrows at His foes. But if I have my way—if I see Him only as a meek shepherd—do I have a right picture of the LORD? Am I blind to an important side of His character? Is He both a warrior and a shepherd?

I can be guilty of shaping God according to my image—the likeness I prefer. But the god I create is not the true God. The true God is always greater, more awesome, fear-provoking, and loving than I can possibly imagine. Words on a page fall short—always fall far short—when we attempt to describe God.

As for this world, it’s inhabited by evil men. Some are heinously evil—monsters in human skin. Others by the mercy of God are filled with kindness. A measure of the grace of God is extended even to those who do not know Him. If God refused to rain judgment on the perpetrators of evil would He still be a good God? If this world were perfect, would we still long for heaven?

Who am I to judge God? Who am I to find fault with my Creator and His ways? Here is the conclusion: Ride on in the battle against evil, Warrior King. Shelter me in your arms, Good Shepherd.

Response: Heavenly Father, I confess I have an incomplete picture of you. I can never grasp or comprehend your fullness. I bow before you, LORD Almighty. In humility I worship you, the magnificent and perfect, I AM. Amen.

Your TurnHas your picture of God changed over time? Has it become more biblically accurate?

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P.S. (from bruce)   If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?q=image+how+we+picture+God&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiHjs2Kw_3eAhXqQ98KHa4ODY4QsAR6BAgAEAE&biw=1252&bih=880#imgrc=XLb2kuOwlGrc_M:

 

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“Living from Joy” 11/30/2018 Written by Mel Wild for “In My Father’s House”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Written by Mel Wild for “In My Father’s House”  @  https://melwild.wordpress.com

Original post @  https://melwild.wordpress.com/2018/11/29/living-from-joy/

 

Living from Joy

Last time I mentioned that joy is found in relationships. You might wonder why this is so. First, psychologically speaking, as Dr. Wilder points out in the video clip, we bond at a very early age.  It happens in the first 24 months as the mother bonds with the child, through smell, taste, touch, visual, and voice tone. This bonding process creates a sense of joy and gladness in the child and gets hard-wired into the brain.

Dr. Wilder also says that the potential of all sorts of psychological issues can develop in the child, even forming negative personality traits, when a healthy bonding process doesn’t happen. There’s also an interesting article in Science Daily (found here) about this, based on a study done by Northwestern University.

Biblically speaking, our source of joy is found in God’s presence.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 *)

As I said last time, God pulled out all the stops by sending His Son so that we could “bond” with Him forever. This bonding process is possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit given to us. And the fruit of this bonding is as follows:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal.5:22-23 NET)

This “fruit” describes a fully satisfied and contented soul at rest. What’s interesting to me about this bonding with Holy Spirit is that some of these attributes are similar to that of healthy bonding between a baby and mother in those critical first months.

So, how does this process work? How do we live from this joy? I believe that Jesus tells us in John’s gospel:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:9-12 NIV *)

Before we get into this, I really like how the Message and Phillips Bibles translate verse 9:

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. (John 15:9 MSG *)

“I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. You must go on living in my love. (John 15:9 PHILLIPS *)

We can break this passage down into the following points:

  • Jesus loves us exactly the same as the Father loves Him (vs.9). How much does the Father love Jesus? That’s how much God loves you.

  • We are told to remain, live, make our home in this love. Notice all that’s required is that we receive and live in God’s infinite love for us. (vs.9)

  • Jesus obeyed the Father’s command by remaining in His love and loving us with the same love He received from His Father. (vs. 10)

  • We will experience fullness of joy when we obey Jesus’ command, which is to remain in God’s love and love each other with the same love we’ve received from God. (vs.10-12)

Let me emphasize that obedience to Jesus is defined by other-centered, self-giving love. We first receive and love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then we go and love others with this same love. When we live our lives from this place, everything that God has ever wanted from us, from Genesis to Revelation, is automatically fulfilled (Matt.22:37-40).

This is exactly how God loves us. And the result is that we begin to experience God’s own joy, which results in our hearts overflowing with gladness.

11 My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness! (John 15:11 TPT *)

Joy starts and ends with love, and this other-centered love is, by definition, relational. This is how we live from joy. Remember, joy does not depend on our circumstances, good or bad. We can have “pure joy” in the midst of very difficult times (James 1:2).

I truly believe this is the key to a life fully lived (and loved). And, as Warner and Wilder say in their book (Rare Leadership), we grow in maturity by growing our ability to experience joy. What this looks like is that I act like the same person, loving others and expressing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23), regardless of my circumstances, good or bad, and regardless of how others treat me. I begin to look and act like Jesus.

* New King James Bible translation unless otherwise noted. All emphasis added.

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P.S. (from bruce)   If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

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“Dangerous Doubts” 11/30/2018 Written by Elihu Anderson for “Elihu’s Corner”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Written by Elihu Anderson for  “Elihu’s Corner”  @   http://elihuscorner.com/

Original post @  https://elihuscorner.com/2018/10/05/dangerous-doubts/

 

 

Dangerous Doubts

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The deceitful and cruel nature of humanity molds many of us into skeptics. We have no desire to be duped into evil schemes. Investing, for example, often feels like an exercise riddled with doubts. Experts tell you to hang on to your Mutual Funds for 20 years and they will yield a decent increase. All the while the market is swinging furiously from bear to bull, and our monthly statements have us biting our nails in anxiety. The doubtful pull out early, often missing out on tremendous dividends.

Doubts have their place. When it comes to listening to people, a healthy dose of doubt often protects us from slippery schemes.

Doubting God, on the other hand, makes us gullible to Satan’s schemes. Doubt is, in fact, one of Satan’s trickiest tools.

Doubt Drags Us Down

Jesus called Peter out of a boat in the middle of the ocean during a storm. Peter, a fisherman by trade, knew getting out of a boat in a storm was crazy, but he also had witnessed Jesus’ power. He swung himself out of the boat and walked on the water. As long as he trusted Jesus, he stood on the water as though it were dry ground.  But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14.30-31, ESV*

Instead of standing in faith, Peter sank in doubt. Fortunately, he knew that Jesus had the power to rescue him, and so he called out again in faith, “Lord save me!”

How many times in your life have doubts diminished your trust in God? How many times has God proved Himself bigger than our doubts? Why, after God has proved His power, do we continue allowing skepticism to sink our faith?

We act in doubt when we refuse to pray.

We act in doubt when we stop seeking God’s wisdom.

We act in doubt when we succumb to despair.

Doubters are Unstable

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1.5-8, ESV

When I read about King Saul, he fits the above description perfectly. One minute he’s out conquering kingdoms, the next minute he’s afraid the people will overthrow him. He can’t decide whether to trust God or listen to his fears. As his narrative progresses, his behavior and his thinking become more delusional. He grows paranoid. He has innocent people killed. He moans and wails about how God no longer communicates with him, refusing to acknowledge that he had already discarded God’s counsel. He allowed himself to be tossed around by his doubts instead of anchoring himself in godly trust.

How do we prevent ourselves from becoming like Saul? How do we avoid being “the double-minded man”?

Replace Doubt with Trust.

Sometimes our prayers are doubtful. “I hope the Lord will do this, but He probably won’t.” Kick that thinking out of your mind and out of your prayers. Instead, trust God’s excellent will. If God does not answer your request the way you want it answered, He has an excellent reason. It took me years to figure out that God’s ways really are higher (and better) than my ways.

When you find yourself doubting, call out to the Savior to strengthen your faith. Tell Satan, “It is written, trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding…” 

If you don’t know “what is written” commit one or more of the following scriptures to memory:

Proverbs 3.5-8: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths…”

Psalm 46.10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Philippians 4.6-7: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6.34: “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Psalm 37:5: Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Seek God’s counsel, trusting that He will give you the direction you need. Do not doubt His power, goodness, or love for you, even when circumstances scream for your capitulation. We will never know peace until we trust in God’s power.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

~ Katharina A. von Schlegel

What truths from God’s word do you lean on when you are tempted to doubt? Has doubt ever caused you to make foolish choices?


This is the final installment of the series, “Belief Shapes Action.” To read previous posts from this series, click the links below:

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P.S. (from bruce)   If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

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“47 years of marriage !! “Till Death Do Us Part” 11/28/2017 written by bruce r. mills for “God’s group”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

 

 

Revised from 11/27/2011 by bruce r. mills @ www.Godsmanforever.com

  “47 years of marriage !!  “Till Death Do Us Part” 

Proverbs 19:14Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD.  (NKJV)

I  posted this 7 years ago, as a tribute to my loving wife Madeline…who has truly been longsuffering by patiently putting up with me as her husband for the past 47 years !!  My wife is my best friend…my companion…and a blessing from God, that mere words on a page could never adequately describe…

I am re-posting the revised original day’s writing again, with an even deeper love for Madeline…hoping that the Lord will use this opening scripture and today’s writing to change the heart and life of someone reading it, as it changed my life views about my dear wife forever !!

As I celebrated my 47th wedding anniversary with my wife Madeline, I look around at young married couples today, with the divorce rates going through the roof…and I thank the Lord that my wife and I are still together after so many years…

No one ever said that being married was easy…that life would always be a bowl of cherries, so to speak… A successful marriage (in my humble opinion), takes a combination of love, trust, submission, and yes…hard work at times…to maintain a meaningful and long term relationship, with a love that continues to grow stronger over the years…

The Bible tells us that the husband is to be in charge of the household…

 1 Corinthians 11:3But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  (NKJV)

I have seen marriages fail, because the husband demanded that the wife submit to the husband’s unfair or selfish requests…  Marriage is a give and take proposition… More importantly…one should always try to please their spouse before their own selfish desires… Is this easy?  Heck No !!  Our natural desire is to do what we want, when we want to do it… But just like all Christians are to submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18-20) I believe a successful marriage will more likely be accomplished, if we put our spouse and their feelings and needs ahead of our own…

When I read this scripture several years ago, God used this opening scripture to totally change my outlook of my wife…   If one stops and remembers that their spouse is a gift from the Lord, how can anything the Lord gives them be looked at as anything other than being perfect… The natural tendency as we get older is to gain some weight, start to wrinkle and droop in places, and then have our hair start to turn gray… For me, realizing that my wife was a gift from God, let me look past her aging exterior…and to see a perfect gift from God that I will cherish forever !!

Any gift from God must be cherished; and just as we promised on the day we were married… I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded wife/husband…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part.

Heavenly Father, I pray that Your Word about a wife being a gift from You, would touch the hearts and minds of every married individual, as it did for me… I pray Lord, that any married couple going through hard times, would first look to You for direction… And then Lord, I pray that they would humble themselves to putting their spouse’s needs and desires ahead of their own… I pray for this humility for all of today’s married couples…in Jesus’ most precious name and for His sake…Amen…

Blessings in Christ, bruce

P.S.  Happy Anniversary Madeline  !!

P.S. (from bruce)  ) If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…    https://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

 

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“5 REASONS WE SOMETIMES DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE OTHERS.” 11/27/2018 Written by Minister Aldtric Johnson M.A. for “Be Blesstified !”

“Our Daily Bread”     http://odb.org/

The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie    http://www.harvest.org/devotional

Image result for image Forgive others

Written by Minister Aldtric Johnson M.A. for “Be Blesstified !” @  https://beblesstified.com

Original post @  https://beblesstified.com/2018/10/29/5-reasons-we-sometimes-dont-want-to-forgive-others/

 

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Have you ever been so angry with someone that you didn’t want an apology from them?


“I don’t wanna hear it!” “I’m not ready for that right now!” “You don’t mean it!”


We must always be ready to forgive as God is always ready to forgive us.

Hear are 5 reasons why we sometimes don’t forgive…

FORGIVING THEM TAKES AWAY OUR EXCUSE TO BE ANGRY

Sometimes when we’re honest with ourselves, we want to remain angry about what they have done. True forgiveness takes away our excuse to be angry at them.

Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV)

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, [a]clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

REMAINING ANGRY CAN MAKE US FEEL POWERFUL

When we’ve been hurt, it can make us feel weak, vulnerable and foolish. However, our anger can give us a perverse feeling of power and strength over the person or persons who hurt us. Forgiveness can make us feel weak if we don’t remember that it is an act of mercy that makes us look more like God.

Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

FORGIVING THEM FORCES US TO MOVE ON

 If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves getting a sense of ‘enjoyment’ out of lingering in the past and constantly thinking about and dwelling on what was done to hurt us. Sometimes people just don’t want to move forward.

 Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [a]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

HOW TO MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT AN APOLOGY ( 8 TIPS)…

HOW TO FORGET A PAST THAT YOU CAN’T FORGET…

FORGIVING THEM ALLOWS THEM TO MOVE ON

Forgiveness is a selfless act that frees the offender from the offense, as it does when God forgives us. God gets nothing out of forgiving us for our sins. He does it to free us and allow us to move forward. Sometimes we can have been hurt so badly by someone, that don’t want them to be free of the offense and don’t want them to move on. We can want them to live in a state of perpetual regret for what they’ve done. Forgiving them frees them from owing us an apology. Remember what Yeshua, Christ Jesus said…

 Matthew 6:15  (NKJV)

15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

WHY WE SHOULD STOP SAYING, “FORGIVENESS ISN’T FOR THEM, IT’S FOR YOU…”

FORGIVING THEM ALLOWS THEM TO BE ‘GOOD’ AGAIN

When someone hurts us bad enough, we can find ourselves wanting them to be characterized as bad no matter what they do. Be careful when you feel someone isn’t sincere in their repentance or apology or not worthy of repentance.

Do any of these 5 reasons apply to you?

BE BLESSTIFIED!

 

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P.S. (from bruce)   If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

picture https://www.google.com/search?q=image+Forgive+others&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjnoO-GqfPeAhWjUt8KHc0JB6UQsAR6BAgAEAE&biw=1091&bih=881#imgrc=pO6PB21FGlFd_M:

 

 

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“What are the causes and solutions for a hardened heart?” 11/26/2018 Posted by www.gotquestions.org

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Posted by www.gotquestions.org

Original post @  https://www.gotquestions.org/QOTW.htm

 

Question: “What are the causes and solutions for a hardened heart?”


Answer: 
To better understand the causes and solutions for a hardened heart, it’s important to understand the broad biblical meaning of the word “heart.” The Bible considers the heart to be the hub of human personality, producing the things we would ordinarily ascribe to the “mind.” For example, Scripture informs us that grief (John 14:1); desires (Matthew 5:28); joy (Ephesians 5:19); understanding (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:15); thoughts and reasoning (Genesis 6:5; Hebrews 4:12; Mark 2:8); and, most importantly, faith and belief (Hebrews 3:12; Romans 10:10; Mark 11:23) are all products of the heart. Also, Jesus tells us that the heart is a repository for good and evil and that what comes out of our mouth – good or bad – begins in the heart (Luke 6:43–45).

Considering this, it’s easy to see how a hardened heart can dull a person’s ability to perceive and understand. Anyone’s heart can harden, even faithful Christians’. In fact, in Mark 8:17–19 we see Jesus’ own disciples suffering from this malady. The disciples were concerned with their meager bread supply, and it was clear that each of them had forgotten how Jesus had just fed thousands with only a few loaves. Questioning them as to the hardness of their hearts, Christ spells out for us the characteristics of this spiritual heart condition as an inability to see, understand, hear, and remember. Regarding this last criterion, too often we forget how God has blessed us and what He has done for us. Similar to the disciples in this instance or the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, when a new calamity arises in our lives, our hearts often fill with fear and concern. Sadly, this simply reveals to God the little faith we have in His promise to take care of us (Matthew 6:32–33; Philippians 4:19). We need to remember not only the many times God has graciously provided for us in our time of need, but also what He has told us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. Now we know that “if we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). However, if we don’t confess our sins, they have a cumulative and desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong. And this sinful and hardened heart is tantamount to the “seared conscience” Paul speaks of in 1 Timothy 4:1–2. Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way. The apostle Paul writes about God’s wrath of abandonment in his letter to the Romans where we see that godless and wicked “men who suppress the truth” are eventually given over to the sinful desires of their hardened hearts (Romans 1:18–24).

Pride will also cause our hearts to harden. The “pride of your heart has deceived you . . . you who say to yourself, ‘who can bring me down to the ground’ . . . I will bring you down declares the LORD” (Obadiah 3). Also, the root of Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness was his pride and arrogance. Even in the face of tremendous proofs and witnessing God’s powerful hand at work, Pharaoh’s hardened heart caused him to deny the sovereignty of the one, true God. And when King Nebuchadnezzar’s “heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory . . . until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone He wishes” (Daniel 5:20–21). Accordingly, when we’re inclined to do it our way, thinking we can “go it on our own,” it would be wise to recall what King Solomon taught us in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

So, what then is the antidote for a heart condition such as this? First and foremost, we have to recognize the effect that this spiritual disease has on us. And God will help us to see our heart’s condition when we ask Him: “Search me O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24). God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins. But true repentance is more than simply a resolute feeling of steadfast determination. Repentance manifests itself in a changed life.

After repenting of our sins, hard hearts begin to be cured when we study God’s Word. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart. . . . I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9–11). The Bible is our manual for living as it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). If we are to live life to the fullest as God intended, we need to study and obey God’s written Word, which not only keeps a heart soft and pure but allows us to be “blessed” in whatever we do (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25).

Hearts can also become hardened when we suffer setbacks and disappointments in life. No one is immune to trials here on earth. Yet, just as steel is forged by a blacksmith’s hammer, so, too, can our faith be strengthened by the trials we encounter in the valleys of life. As Paul encouraged the Romans: “But we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).

Recommended Resource: The Mind of Christ by T.W. Hunt

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P.S. (from bruce)   If you’re not a “born again” Christian, is the Holy Spirit urging you to open this link ??  Here is the truth for this most important days writing, about how God’s grace is received to become a Christian in God’s eyes; through understanding and obeying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…   https://godsmanforever.com/2016/12/19/the-gospel-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-12182016-written-by-bruce-r-mills/

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, please feel free to share this message of the cross with those in need…

picture credit:  https://www.google.com/search?q=image+hardeheart&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjN4qKohuveAhVlkeAKHVVNCTgQsAR6BAgGEAE#imgrc=LbdLf4Y93WQ8kM

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