A daily study in the Word of God. Simple, life-transforming tools to help you grow in Christ.
Choose your friends with caution; plan your future with purpose, and frame your life with faith. (Thomas S. Monson) 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. (James 3:17-18 TLB) We are all in the process of "framing" our lives each and every moment we make split-second decisions. It is what precedes those decisions that often determines the "steadiness" of the course we will take. As Monson stated, we need to ensure our lives are "framed" with faith - in other words, we have the firmest of foundations upon which to allow our steps to be taken. That foundation is Christ - it begins with saying "yes" to him, but it continues each and every moment when we allow the "frame" of our lives to be filled with him. The frame was that moment in time where we said "yes", but the picture that is contained within that frame is made up of all those moments when those split-second decisions are made! A life of faith is built on all those moments when Christ's wisdom becomes our own. We step into his plans and purpose, assuming not so much the leader role, but the disciple role - allowing his teaching and wisdom to be imparted and then "grafted-into" our lives. If you have ever watched an arborist take a portion of one tree and graft it into another tree, there is a skill to his work. If he makes too big of a slit for the graft to fit into, the tree will be more susceptible to disease, allowing moisture and insect to invade the tender place created for that graft. If he makes too small of a slit or doesn't bind the new graft just tight enough, it won't make contact as it should with the "host" tree and it will not survive. The placement of the graft is important and the way it is bound to the host is equally so. The same is true of each of us - our lives of faith are not going to survive and grow as they should until the "bond" between Jesus and us is secure, well-founded, and free of invading disease! The grafted branch doesn't always take on the characteristics of the tree where it is attached right away. It makes every effort to live as it used to live, but if it wants to grow, it must yield to where it is placed for that growth. As with each of us, we can try to live independently, but we will soon find we are cut off from the life supply we so desperately crave and need! The friends we choose are a direct result of the lives we allow to be framed - they make up the "picture" within the frame - for they affect each choice we make within that frame. The plans we make (or allow to influence our lives) are going to equally affect the picture within the frame. The one constant thing is the frame - the picture might change a little from time to time, but the frame is the same! When that frame is Christ, the picture doesn't yearn to be outside that frame - it is adorned by the absolute beauty of the frame! Just sayin!
As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant. In that day and time, a very taboo thing. We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God. Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated. We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar. The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish. Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa
Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:1-4) Has God's love made ANY difference in your life? What is that difference? Most of us will likely say that our lives were changed for the good, while others will say there was a dramatic change. Some left behind lifestyles marked by all manner of outward sin - like drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, or even thievery. There are many that will admit the things they left behind were just a bit subtler - what we can call inward sin - things like jealousy,