ARCHITECT AND BUILDER

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:10

My child, you won’t believe the surprises I have waiting for you. Your finite mind could not grasp the beauty of the home I’ve designed especially for you. I’ve pored over every detail. Heaven is not a figment of your imagination. It is the reality of Mine. I should know. I built it with My own hands. And I want your heart to reflect the kind of beauty that heaven holds for you someday. Trust Me. I’ll keep renovating your “home” often.

Heaven is God’s way of saying,

“Welcome home.”

By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan

LOVE

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1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love – we want to remember the real meaning of love. Without the motivation and expression of love, all “Christian” activities are more “activity” than Christian. Love is the expression of Christ’s character and presence in our lives through deeds done for others.

Prayer: Loving Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your demonstration of love in Jesus. Help me to love as he did – selflessly, sacrificially, and consistently, so others may know of your love through my actions. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

I Am Forever

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What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31

I am with you and for you. You never have to face anything alone—ever! When you are worried, you are thinking about the things of this world—the things you can see—and you are forgetting about Me. It is easy to be distracted by what you can see, but those things are only temporary. And even though you cannot see Me, I am forever.

Getting rid of your worries is simple: Keep your thoughts on Me. Whisper My Name to remind you that I’m with you. Sing a song of praise. Tell Me that you trust Me. I will get you safely through this day and every day.

This day is a precious gift. Don’t waste it worrying about the future. Instead, unwrap the gift of today and enjoy its many blessings with Me by your side. As you open this today-gift fully, you’ll find Me!

By: Sarah Young

Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?

This article wrote by Stephen Altrogge touches home with so many families, including mine, that I wanted to share. Please educate yourself on mental illness and help remove the stigma that comes with it.

All italics are added by me…..Maggie

I recently read two articles by a well known Christian author who is also closely connected to a Christian counseling foundation. The articles essentially argued that mental illness was a social construct created by secular doctors and psychiatrists, and therefore, is not biblical. So, when a person is depressed, he is really just experiencing sadness, and to try to treat it medically is to short circuit the power of God. When a person is anxious, she is really just experiencing worry, and to treat it medically is a secular answer to a spiritual problem. You get the idea.

The desire behind the article was good: the author was trying to demonstrate that Jesus is sufficient for every facet of life. However, I believe that treating mental illness as only (or even primarily) a spiritual problem is both profoundly unbiblical and incredibly hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness.

TOTAL DEPRAVITY REALLY MEANS TOTAL DEPRAVITY (MORALLY CORRUPT – NOT RIGHTEOUS)

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; Romans 3:10

The Bible teaches that every human being is totally depraved. This doesn’t mean that every person is as absolutely wicked and evil as they could possibly be. That would be utter depravity. Total depravity simply means that sin has affected every facet of my being, including both my soul and my body. Total depravity means that nothing works as God originally intended. My spiritual desires are affected and distorted by sin. My intellect is distorted by and affected by sin. And, most importantly (for this discussion), my body has been affected and distorted by sin.

Why do I get colds and headaches and backaches and indigestion and infections? Why do you have migraines and heart problems and kidney stones and glaucoma? We experience these things because we inhabit bodies which have been marked and marred by sin. Paul spoke directly to this when he said:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

Our outer self is wasting away. Our bodies don’t work correctly. They fall apart and fail us at the worst times. While we live in this fallen world, we live in bodies that are wasting away.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22-23

Along with the rest of creation, we eagerly await for the day when Christ will return and we will receive our new, redeemed, resurrection bodies.

Until the day Jesus returns, I will live in a body which does not function as God originally intended. My brain, which is a key, central, integral part of my body, will not function correctly. Chemicals will become imbalanced. Serotonin will not be properly absorbed. Norepinephrine will be unevenly distributed. Synapses won’t fire correctly. My brain, just like every other part of my body, is prone to illness.

I would argue that if we truly believe in total depravity, then we must accept mental illness as a biblical category. If I believe that sin has affected every part of my body, including my brain, then it shouldn’t surprise me when my brain doesn’t work correctly. I’m not surprised when I get a cold; why should I be surprised if I experience mental illness? To say that depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, and every other disorder, are purely spiritual disorders is to ignore the fact that we are both body and soul.

Mental illness is not something invented by secular psychiatrists. Rather, it is part and parcel with living in fallen, sinful world.

MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE CHURCH

Treating mental illness as purely a spiritual disorder is very hurtful to those who struggle with mental illness because it points them to the wrong solution. Let me explain. For many years I’ve dealt with chronic physical anxiety. I regularly experience a clutching sensation in my chest, shortness of breath, adrenaline surges, and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. On rare occasions, the anxiety is tied to something I’m worried about, but 90% of the time the physical symptoms I experience aren’t at all connected to worry. I’ll be working away on my computer, not thinking about anything, when a feeling of anxiety suddenly descends upon me.

In those moments, I don’t need to be told not to worry. I don’t need to be told to exercise more faith in the promises of God. I don’t need to be told to snap out of it. What I need is encouragement to persevere. I need to be reminded that, even in the midst of suffering, Jesus is near. I need to be reminded that my light and momentary afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory. I need to be encouraged to press into Jesus.

And… I need to be connected to someone who can help me deal with the physical aspects of anxiety.

Here’s the unfortunate reality: even if my thinking is biblical, faith-filled, and God-honoring, my physical symptoms of anxiety probably won’t go away. Why? Because most of the time the problem is primarily physical. Something isn’t working correctly in my brain, which in turn causes me to experience the physical symptoms of anxiety.

When interacting with Christians who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other form of mental illness, we need to treat them as whole people. We need to treat people as both body and soul. Do they need to exercise faith in the wonderful promises of God? Sure. But they also need to deal with the physical aspects of mental illness as well. Doctors are a wonderful gift from God who can offer help to those who struggle with mental illness.

We need to place mental illness in the same category as every other form of illness. When a person experiences chronic migraines, they most certainly will be tempted to doubt the goodness of God. We can serve them by encouraging them that God is good, and that he cares for them. But we also can serve them by taking them to the best migraine specialists in the country.

If we’re going to effectively care for fellow Christians who struggle with mental illness, we need to recognize that mental illness is a real thing. We aren’t only souls. Rather, we are a complex composition of soul and body. Let’s make sure we address both the soul and the body.

 

The Potter

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Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it.” – Jeremiah 18:3-4

The making of pottery is one the oldest arts known to men. A potter takes clay and molds it and squeezes it until it is soft and pliable. It is a beautiful thing to watch: a vessel of beauty or a vessel of service, or both, emerge from a lump of clay.

God is the potter.  We are His workmanship.  God is the Master Workman, always working on us. Think of yourself as the clay and see what God can do with you, for He is at work in your life.

 

Sanctified

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God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

God has already decided to make me more and more like Jesus! Even when evil things come into my life from evil sources, God’s able to take those experiences and use them to strengthen me, get my attention, and refocus my life on Him.

God’s reminds me today that while He’s constantly working through my circumstances, they’ll only make me more like Christ if I respond to them with trust in God and a willingness to choose His way in my life.

When difficult times come, I just need to trust God.

Letting Go of the Past

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Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. – Ephesians 4:31

Have you ever noticed that if you continue to hate someone, whatever they did will continue to hurt you? Our anger and hatred just keeps reopening the emotional wounds of the past.

This is one reason why we need to let go of the past and— with God’s help—release our anger and hatred and replace them with His love. If we don’t our souls will be poisoned the rest of our life by bitterness and resentment, instead of reflecting the love and mercy of Christ. Remember Jesus’ command: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Admittedly this isn’t easy to do. That is why I urge you to turn to Christ and seek His forgiveness for all the ways you have hurt Him. When we realize how much we have hurt God, the hurts we have received from others will begin to fade.

Billy Graham

Materialism

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When Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), the term “lay up” did not simply speak of having possessions, but of your possessions having you. “Lay up” could be better translated “hoard” or “stockpile.”

Jesus was not saying that it is wrong to have things. He was warning against becoming materialistic—letting things become more important than God.

God created us to love people and use things, but a materialist loves things and uses people. There is nothing wrong with having possessions and a successful career. The apostle Paul wrote, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). God can bless a person. In fact, we read in the Bible of those who had wealth, such as Abraham, Job, David, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary, and Barnabas.

Jesus did not extol poverty as some great virtue. In fact, only one time did He tell someone—the rich young ruler—to sell his possessions and give to the poor. I think it was because that man was possessed by his possessions. Because when Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21), the Bible says that he went away sorrowful. It was a test to see whether God was more important to him than his things.

Money is not the root of all evil; the love of it is. The problem with wealth is not in having it. It is how we get it. It is how we guard it. And it is how we give it.

Greg Laurie

Making Everything New

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2 Corinthians 5:17

If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!

Wintertime is downright dreary. The coldness, dampness, and even grayness just seem to hang in the air. The longer the winter, the more we yearn for God to recreate our environment. We long for the dead-looking trees to turn green, the brown grass to disappear, the flowers to bloom, the gardens to be tempting with delicious vegetables. We long for the signs of new life.

Winter and springtime are pictures both of our lives and of what Jesus can do with us. He takes the cold, dark parts of our life in sin and turns us into the bright, smiling, loving, and forgiving new creations of His righteousness that He intends us to be.

Jimmy Houston

Learning To Listen

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I am learning to listen to my Father. He cares deeply about me and He wants to walk with me through my life. He wants to encourage me and strengthened me as I face hard times, and bring me joy through His many blessings in my life. I’d say that’s better than the 401K they offer our employees at my work! Actually, it’s no comparison. I am mentioning that because I am so busy getting my ducks in a row that I take for granted the “forever & everlasting promise” that I should be most grateful for. When I’m not listening to Him and feeling His prompting I am missing the mark. Is anybody like me?

God wants us to know that He pays attention to us when we pray, when we pursue Him, and even when we ignore Him! God is constantly working in our lives to draw us closer to Him, to teach us to depend on Him more, and to cause us to grow spiritually.

I praise His Holy name, my Almighty Father, my Dad for being constant, never changing and never giving up on me.