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There is no doubt that the Devil despises Godward praise. We have some reason to believe that at one time, before pride caused him to lose his position, he may have been one of the “worship leaders” in heaven and therefore is particularly repulsed and repelled when God’s people praise Him with singing and musical instruments. 

When I talk with a woman who is struggling with chronic discouragement or depression, I often ask two questions: (1) Are you memorizing Scripture? and (2) Are you singing to the Lord?

I’m not suggesting that these are magic “pills” that will make every emotional struggle go away, but I have found these two means of grace to be extremely effective at recalibrating my heart and restoring inner peace.

I have often experienced fresh springs of God’s grace as I have exercised faith in singing to Him in praise and thanksgiving…Occasionally I am crying so hard I can scarcely get the words out. But as I sing to the Lord, my heart and mind are re-tethered to His goodness and love, and invariably, the cloud begins to lift. In fact, I sing until the cloud lifts.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Gratitude

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“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…” Philippians 4:11 

Will I ever be happy again? It’s all I could think of after I got out of the hospital and wheeled through the front door of my home. Doorways were too narrow and sinks were too high. I sat at the dining room table, my knees hitting the edge. A plate of food was placed in front of me, but my hands remained limp in my lap. Someone else—at least for the first few months—fed me. I felt confined and trapped

My confinement forced me to look at another captive. The apostle Paul had seen the inside of more than one small room from which there was no escape. For over two years, he was shifted from “pillar to post” until finally he arrived in Rome where he remained under house arrest. When Paul wrote to thank the church in Philippi for their concern, he reassured them with the words of today’s verse.

Paul became my example in my own “prison;” I learned—and am still learning—the secret of being content. The apostle writes about this secret in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Contentment in confinement has an internal quietness of heart that gladly submits to God in all circumstances

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Confined Contentment,” October 3 Daily Devotional

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Discipline toward holiness begins with the Word of God. Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The last item he mentions is training or discipline in doing righteousness. This is what the Scriptures will do for us if we use them.

Jay Adams says, “It is by willing, prayerful and persistent obedience to the requirements of the Scriptures that godly patterns are developed and come to be a part of us.”

We read in Scripture, “You were taught…to put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Where are we taught these things? Only in the Word of God.

Discipline toward holiness begins then with the Scriptures—with a disciplined plan for regular intake of the Scriptures and a disciplined plan for applying them to our daily lives.

~Jerry Bridges in The Pursuit of Holiness

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Someone has said that, “To most people, the greatest persons in the universe are themselves. Their lives are made up of endless variations on the word me.”

Our instinctive reaction to life is self-centered: How does this affect me? Will this make me happy? Why did this happen to meIt’s not enough to be the center of our own universe. We also want to be the center of everyone else’s universe—including God’s.

The apostle Paul understood that God doesn’t exist for us but that we exist for Him. We need to be reminded of these words from Colossians: “All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together…that in everything he might be preeminent” (1:16-18).

If you’re tempted to think, “me, me, me” today, would you shift your focus
to Him?

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Me, Me, Me”

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I remember years ago when Dr. John MacArthur began a sermon with the simple question, “Where do we begin discipline? Well, we were all expecting to hear something deep and profound, but Dr. MacArthur simply said,“Begin discipline by… cleaning your room!”

Sounds kind of silly at first but, is it possible that—in all the pursuit of the disciplined life—we focus our eyes on larger-than-life goals? We take on three jobs at church. We get up at 4:00 AM every morning for devotions.

Now, all of these are worthy, but we may be overlooking the more immediate and obvious things. After all, Luke chapter 16 says that “if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”

Let’s be faithful in the “little” things—holding back our tongue, being on time to appointments, cleaning our messy rooms. That’s where discipline begins.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “Where Discipline Begins

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What memories are you making in your domestic domain? Each home has its own distinct environment. Does yours speak of the Creator of the universe?

Are peace and beauty and comfort and welcome to be found there? Is communication clear and kind, leaving room for criticism without allowing anyone to be crushed through cruel or angry outbursts? When hurt and resentment flare up, are there legitimate ways to express it while still keeping a guard over one’s mouth (Psalm 141:3)? Can people be honest without injuring one another unfairly (Ephesians 4:25-27)?

The fearlessly feminine woman sets an example for her household to follow. She knows there are some things that must never be said no matter what the level of frustration or anger. What memories are being formed in the environment of your home? Children should learn kindness, compassion, and self-control at home. When they don’t, schools and communities are forced to pick up the pieces of their cruel, selfish, and uncontrolled behavior…

Don’t make your home just another item on your “to do” list. God calls you to devote yourself to your home above any career. If you are too busy to manage it well, who will do it?

~Jani Ortlund in Fearlessly Feminine

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If you have been blessed with children, you know that gratitude—like most every other character trait—doesn’t come naturally for them. But few things are more remarkable (and unusual) in children today than when they’re known for their thankful, contented spirit. It is a quality worth every ounce of effort we make to instill it in them.

And while teaching and instruction have their place in growing gratitude in our kids, the best teacher of all (of course) is our example. Do your children hear you thank your husband when he tackles a home repair job or gets the car lubed?

Do they hear you express gratitude to the Lord and to others for both little and big things throughout the day? Do you tell them how grateful you are for their dad, for your church and your pastor, for their teachers, for the house the Lord has provided for your family, for good health, and for God’s abundant blessings to your family?

Conversely, do they hear you grumble when your husband delays dinner by needing to see one extra client or when you get a flat tire or the sun doesn’t come out for a week?

Gratitude joins many other important virtues that are more effectively caught than taught. How contagious are you, especially at home?

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Gratitude

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Is there anyone reading this who is not faced with a perplexity of some sort? Some of you face serious dilemmas. We want to pray, “Lord, please remove the dilemma.” Usually the answer is “No, not right away.” We must face it, pray over it, think about it, wait on the Lord, make a choice. Sometimes it is an excruciating choice…

Paul said he had been “very thoroughly initiated into the human lot with all its ups and downs” (Philippians 4:12, NEB). He was hard-pressed, bewildered, persecuted, and struck down.

God in His mercy did not choose to remove the dilemmas with which he was faced (some of His greatest mercies are His refusals), but chose instead to make Himself known to Paul because of them, in ways which would strengthen his faith and make him a strengthener and an instrument of peace to the rest of us

Paul goes on to say:

“It is for your sake that all things are ordered, so that, as the abounding grace of God is shared by more and more, the greater may be the chorus of thanksgiving that ascends to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15, NEB).

Maybe Paul’s testimony, which has cheered countless millions, will cheer somebody who still faces a dilemma he has begged the Lord to remove. All of Paul’s were solved, but not all of them in Paul’s way or Paul’s time, Selah.

~Elisabeth Elliot in “Lord, Please Remove the Dilemma,” September 27 Daily Devotional

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One of the most comforting scriptures I know is from Psalm 56 where it says, “[God], you keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

love that image. Not one tear of yours has escaped the attention of your loving God. He has numbered them and collected them.

And what’s more, He’ll wipe away not just all, but every one of your tears. Because each single tear represents some different sorrow, some unique grief you’ve gone through: maybe the death of a loved one, or a divorce you weren’t expecting, or a life-altering illness.

Each grief is different, and the Bible says that God will atone for every solitary tear. Each one has meaning. So when times of weeping come your way, prepare yourself with these assurances from God’s Word. No tear will be wasted.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “No Tear Wasted 2

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Another way to befriend your husband is to offer him your appreciation and loyalty so freely that he doesn’t have to ask or wait for it. He needs to hear and feel your approval. Speak well of him to his family and his friends. Praise him in front of his children.

What does your family hear from you about your husband? Is he late for dinner again? You can have one of two responses: “Poor Daddy—he’s working so hard. Let’s stop and pray for him.” Or “Poor me—I can’t believe it’s happening again.”

As you offer him your appreciation, let others be the ones who try to improve him: his boss, his colleagues, his customers, his family. He may be all too aware of his own shortcomings. He needs a wife who accepts him and loves him for who he is, not only for what she’s hoping he’ll become

Let’s speak well of our husbands. Let’s offer them the loyalty and appreciation of a deep and lasting friendship.

~Jani Ortlund in Fearlessly Feminine

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Taking for granted all the temporal provisions and spiritual blessings that God has so richly bestowed on us, and so failing to continually give Him thanks, is one of our “acceptable” sins. In fact, far too many Christians wouldn’t think of it as sin.

Yet Paul, in his description of a Spirit-filled person, said we are to “[give] thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Note the words always and everything. That means our whole lives should be ones of continually giving thanks.

Giving thanks to God for both His temporal and spiritual blessings in our lives is not just a nice thing to do—it is the moral will of God. Failure to give Him the thanks due Him is sin. It may seem like a benign sin to us because it doesn’t harm anyone else. But it is an affront and insult to the One who created us and sustains us every second of our lives.

~Jerry Bridges in Respectable Sins

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Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. -James 4:10

Hit the concordance key on your computer Bible software, type in the word “pride” or “proud,” and watch a zillion verses pop up. All of them detail how the Lord detests haughty eyes, boastful tongues, and hearts bloated by ego. Never was there a character trait more opposite of God

In our best moments, we want very much to be like God, to be godly…yet what an invitation to pride! That’s why it always requires humility… 

An old Puritan wrote: “Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of sin committed, as in the greatness of the person sinned against.”

If we’re looking for humility, we don’t gaze inward to see how greatly we’ve missed the mark. We gaze at the Lord Jesus. We drag ourselves to the cross where our pride is suffocated! “Self” becomes “hid with Christ in God,” and humility is the result. 

Asking the Holy Spirit to roll up His sleeves and deal with pride in your hearts, may involve several things (I speak from experience!). It may include opening yourself to the valid criticism of others, openly confessing your faults, or inviting your spouse or close friend to point out your blind spots. Easy? Never! Rewarding? Always.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “A Spirit of Humility,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, May 27 2012

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Godly character in every area of our lives will show up within the four walls of our homes. We can’t say we love God if we don’t manifest His love to our family members or if we allow bitterness to fester in our hearts toward them.

For the most part, we don’t get to choose our family members, as we do our “friends.” Yet we are called to love and care for those in our families, in spite of their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, or their character flaws. And that’s not always easy!

…Regardless of your family heritage, it’s important to realize that your relatives are not the result of “genetic chance,” but that you have been placed into the family of God’s sovereign choosing for you, and that He wants to use your family—rough edges and all—as a means to sanctify you and conform you into the likeness of His Son.

Embracing that truth will help you cultivate a grateful heart for those who make up your family.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Gratitude

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As we think of sins of the tongue, let’s begin with the one most people think of first: gossip. Gossip is the spreading of unfavorable information about someone else, even if that information is true. However, gossip is often based on rumor, which makes the sin even worse.

Indulging in gossip seems to feed our sinful ego, especially when the information we’re passing along is negative. It makes us feel self-righteous by comparison.

And then there are those times when we disguise our gossip as, “I want to share this with you for your prayers.” If we know something negative about someone, we should pray about it. But we should not spread around the bad news.

Ephesians 4:29 not only tells us what kinds of speech to put off, it also tells us what to put on. It is only such speech that builds up and gives grace to those who hear it. Therefore, when we are tempted to gossip, we should ask ourselves, Will what I’m about to say tend to tear down or build up the person I’m about to talk about?

~Jerry Bridges in Respectable Sins

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Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26) 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to say with the psalmist, “God, I am full! I’m stuffed full of blessings and I can’t think of anything else I desire on earth besides you.” Oh, to be that satisfied.

When you become satiated in Christ, it is evidence that contentment has the definite upper hand in your heart. When Jesus says to you, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry,” he is talking about gratification of the soul (John 6:35).

To be satisfied in Christ means being full. Never wanting more. We need not ever be hungry for “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The role of the Word of God is to feed faith’s appetite for Christ. 

Contentment consists not in great wealth, but in having very few wants in this life. A divine arithmetic for contentment is to subtract your earthly wants so that something of greater value can be attained: satisfaction in the Lord.

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “I’m Full,” Joni and Friends Daily Devotional, July 23 2012

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