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I remember when I was much younger in the faith, I got into an argument with an older Christian friend named Don. I can’t even remember what the argument was about, but I know I raked him over the coals.

He called me on it, and said, “Joni, that’s no way for a follower of Jesus to talk.” And I shot back at him, “What, do you expect me to weigh every word?” And he said, “Yes, yes I do.” What’s more, the Holy Spirit expects you to weigh every word before you say it.

Now, looking back so many years later, my friend Don was right. 100% right, he was. It’s why the book of James devotes almost an entire chapter to the tongue and how we use it. What’s more, Romans chapter 14 says that each of us will one day give an account for himself before the Lord.

So are you responsible for every little thing you say? My friend Don would say yes. And so would Scripture.

~Joni Eareckson Tada inYour Words Count

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Is it true that God is love to me as a Christian? And does the love of God mean all that has been said? If so, certain questions arise.

Why do I ever grumble and show discontent and resentment at the circumstances in which God has placed me?

Why am I ever distrustful, fearful, or depressed?

Why do I ever allow myself to grow cool, formal and halfhearted in the service of the God who loves me so?

Why do I ever allow my loyalties to be divided, so that God has not all my heart?

John wrote that “God is love” in order to make an ethical point, “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn 4:11). Could an observer learn from the quality and degree of love that I show to others–my wife? my husband? my family? my neighbors? people at church? people at work? –anything at all about the greatness of God’s love to me?

Meditate upon these things. Examine yourself.

~J.I. Packer in Knowing God

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What comes to mind when I say the word “father”?

…If you’ve been wounded by a father or another man that you’ve trusted, you may find it hard to trust God. Can I tell you that God is unlike any man you’ve ever known? Even the best earthly father is only a pale reflection of Him.

We need to look to the Scripture for an accurate picture of God. In God’s Word we see a heavenly Father who’s compassionate, merciful, and tender toward His children; a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children; a Father who disciplines His children, but never rejects them.

Regardless of what kind of earthly father you may have had, if you’re a child of God, you have a heavenly Father who loves you dearly and can be totally trusted.

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss inJust Like My Father

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Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity. —Hebrews 2:14 

When we are hurting, if there is one thing that eases our pain or grief, it is this: We want someone to understand. We want somebody to really identify with us, to have some idea of what we’re enduring. 

It is certainly like that for me. I hate feeling alone and alienated in those dark times when my paralysis seems overwhelming. On my really rough days, it helps to remember what the Bible tells us about Jesus identifying with us in our sufferings. It says that He was tested and tried in every way like us. That helps!

When it comes to suffering, the Lord Jesus has gone ahead of us, and has intimate, experiential, first-hand knowledge of the pain, the weight, the frustration, and the struggle. He appreciates. He understands. He connects. 

But it works both ways! Not only does Christ identify with us in our suffering, we identify with Him in His suffering. He identifies with us, and we identify with Him. He appreciates all that it means to be human, and we appreciate all that His divine grace supplies. Through suffering, He participates in our humanity; through suffering, we participate in His divinity

So why do we struggle so to escape our suffering? Why do we look so desperately for release? I suppose this is why I’m not earnestly seeking to be healed and raised up out of this wheelchair. I see this trial of mine as a window into the heart of Jesus. Suffering is a connecting point between my Savior and me. And when I see His great love on the cross, it gives me courage to take up my cross and follow Him.  

~Joni Eareckson Tada in “The Price of Identifying,” October 11 Daily Devotional

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We may be tempted to verbally attack an unpleasant person in order to show that we are right. But even though she may indeed be much in the wrong, we are called to remember that being right is not the most important thing. As Christians, being loving is the most important thing. God cares that we have a holy heart and reflect his character in this world.

One day, the Righteous Judge will reveal to us the truth—for he is Truth. Every wrong will be righted. Between now and that day, God’s grace enables us to focus less on defending ourselves or our position and more on testifying to God’s mercy and greatness.

Being treated rudely is stressful. Often we do not know why God allows tension in our relationships. But one day it will all become clear and what will have mattered is this: Did we love God? Did we love others? Did we focus on being right, or did we walk in mercy, grace, and love?

~Tara Klena Barthel and Judy Dabler in Peacemaking Women

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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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