Saturday, January 23, 2010

Love, Love, Love :D

Love Is a Choice
Wednesday December 09 2009
Posted by Rick Warren

... That you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:20 (NIV)

The birth of Jesus reflects the truth that love is a choice and a commitment. You choose to love or you choose not to love.

Today we've bought into this myth that love is uncontrollable, that it's something that just happens to us; it's not something we control. In fact, even the language we use implies the uncontrollability of love. We say, "I fell in love," as if love is some kind of a ditch. It's like I'm walking along one day and bam! - I fell in love. I couldn't help myself.

But I have to tell you the truth - that's not love. Love doesn't just happen to you. Love is a choice and it represents a commitment.

There's no doubt about it, attraction is uncontrollable and arousal is uncontrollable. But attraction and arousal are not love. They can lead to love, but they are not love. Love is a choice.

You must choose to love God; he won't force you to love him (Deuteronomy 30:20). You can thumb your nose at God and go a totally different way. You can destroy your life if you choose to do that. God still won't force you to love him. Because he knows love can't be forced.

And this same principle is true about your relationships: you can choose to love others, but God won't force you to love anyone.

Love is an Action
Thursday December 10 2009
Posted by Rick Warren

Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. 1 John 3:18 (NLT)

The baby Jesus shows us that love is something you do. You show love by what you do, not just by what you feel.

Do you really love someone? Let's see how you act toward that person.

Love is more than attraction and more than arousal. It's also more than sentimentality, like so many of today's songs suggest. By this standard, is love dead when the emotion is gone? No, not at all. Because love is an action; love is a behavior.

Over and over again, in the Bible, God commands us to love each other. And you can't command an emotion. If I told you "Be sad!" right now, you couldn't be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you're not wired for your emotions to change on command. Have you ever told a little kid, "Be happy!" I'm trying, daddy!

If love were just an emotion, then God couldn't command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.

The Bible says, "Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions" (1 John 3:18 NLT). We can talk a good act: "I love people." But do we really love them? Do you really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.

Love Is a Skill
Friday December 11 2009
Posted by Rick Warren

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (NLT)

Love is a skill that can be learned. In other words, it's something you can get good at and that means you get better at love by practicing love. There is no time better than the Christmas season to practice loving others.

You may think you're a good lover, but God wants you to become a great lover, a skilled lover, a master lover. Yet, most people never learn how to love. You can become an expert at relationships.

Wouldn't you like to become known as a person of extraordinary love? When people speak of you they might say: "He doesn't care who you are or what you look like." "She doesn't care where you've been or what you've done or where you're from."

The only way you get skilled at something is to practice. You do it over and over. The first time you do it, it feels awkward, but the more you do it, the better you become.

The same is true with love (1 John 4:7). Let's practice loving each other. As the Bible says, "Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all" (1 Timothy 4:15 HCSB).

Love Is a Habit
Saturday December 12 2009
Posted by Rick Warren

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them." Luke 6:32 (NIV)

If you only love on and off like a light switch, you do not love others like God wants you to love. Jesus said, "If you only love those who love you what credit is that to you?" (Luke 6:32 NIV).

His point is this: anybody can love those who love them. Becoming a master lover means you learn to love the unlovable. It's when you love people who don't love you, when you love people who irritate you, when you love people who stab you in the back or gossip about you.

This may seem like an impossible task and it is - that's why we need God's love in us, so we can then love others: "We know and rely on the love God has for us" (1 John 4:16 NIV).

When you realize how much God loves you - with an extravagant, irresistible, unconditional love - then his love will change your entire focus on life. If we don't receive God's love for us, we'll have a hard time loving other people. I'm talking about loving the unlovely, loving the difficult, loving the irritable, loving people who are different or demanding.

You can't do that until you have God's love coming through you. You need to know God's love so it can overflow out of your life into others.

Love must become your lifestyle, the habit of your life. But it starts with a decision. Are you ready?

Your life is worth far more than you think, and by learning to love others with the love God gives you, you will have an influence far greater than you could ever imagine. If you will commit to this, you will experience love as God means it to be, filled with hope, energy, and joy.

My prayer for you is "that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love ..." (Philippians 1:9 NCV).

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Daily Digest #390

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” —Joel 2:12

I have colds right now. I knew I was gonna catch it. I had many warning signs before I engaged into different activities that eventually made me sick. And just when I needed my voice and health for choir practice last night, I had already caught it. Now, I have hoarse voice and difficulty breathing. I can imagine God telling me, "I TOLD YOU SO... :-P" I realize how stubborn I can be sometimes. Now all I can do is live with the consequences.

I guess it goes the same with any other bad habits we've developed over the years. For sure, before we even adapted ourselves completely to them, we already had warning signs and preview of the consequences from others. Yet, we find ourselves drifting and making the same mistakes. And sooner or later, we struggle to break them.

God reminds us of His love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and until we recognize that, we will continue running in circles, asking the same questions, and never really understanding the essence of His answers. For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for Your love and forgiveness. Thank You for helping us pick up the pieces when we fail, or rise when we stumble and fall. Thank You for always giving us warning signs for every doubtful decision or irresponsible action. May we have the heart to listen to Your message and to learn Your lessons. Amen.

Happy Monday! Pray always. God bless!

Be thankful even in tough times
Monday December 14, 2009
Posted by Rick Warren

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4 (NLT)

When the Apostle Paul says, "Always be full of joy in the Lord," he doesn't say only be joyful in good times. Even when times are tough, The Bible teaches we can be joyful if we follow this simple strategy -

Don't worry about anything.
Worrying doesn't change anything. It's stewing without doing. There are no such things as born-worriers. Worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That's good news. The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned.

How do you unlearn it? Jesus says (Matthew 6:34), "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own." He's saying don't open your umbrella until it starts raining. Don't worry about tomorrow. Live one day at a time.

Pray about everything.
Instead of worrying, use your time for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you'd have a whole lot less to worry about. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He's interested in every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem you face to God.

Thank God in all things.
Whenever you pray, you should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They're never satisfied. It's never good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.

Think about the right things.
If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think because the way you think determines how you feel. And the way you feel determines how you act, which is why the Bible teaches that, if you want to change your life, you need to change what you're thinking about.

This involves a deliberate conscious choice where you change the channels. You choose to think about the right things. Because the root cause of stress is the way we chooseto think, we need to focus on the positive and on God's word.

What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul says we will then "experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 NLT)

What a guarantee! He is guaranteeing peace of mind. Have you noticed that is what everybody seems to be looking for?

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Daily Digest #389

O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. —1 Kings 3:7

We usually fail to recognize our smallness when we think too much of ourselves. We can be our own "gods" until such time that we ourselves realize and admit that we do not know everything and can't control everything. But God is love. He reaches out to drowning souls and hears the hearts of those who seek His help and wisdom.

Sometimes when we're too proud, He allows things to happen so humbling moments could follow. Only then do we truly learn to honor His greatness.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank You for the gift of wisdom. Thank You for sending us angels to help us understand Your message clearly, and people/circumstance s to learn lessons of patience, humility and endurance. May we always humble ourselves before You, and praise You for Your glory. Amen.

Allow me to share an article from the Purpose Driven Life (read below). Happy Wednesday! Pray always. God bless :D

We Love Because God Loves Us

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

This Christmas season is a good time to remember that the reason God wants us to love is because he is love, and he created us to be like him - to love. The only reason we're able to love is because God loves us: "Love comes from God ... because God is love" (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).

We were created in God's image to do two things on earth: Learn to love God and learn to love other people; life is all about love.

But love all started with God. He loved us first and that gives us the ability to love others (1 John 4:19). The only reason you can love God or love anybody else is because God first loved you. And he showed that love by sending Jesus Christ to earth to die for you. He showed that love by creating you. He showed that love by everything you have in life; it's all a gift of God's love.

In order to love others and to become great lovers, we first need to understand and feel how much God loves us. We don't want to just talk about love, read about love, or discuss about love; our need is to experience the love of God.

We need to reach a day when we finally, fully understand how God loves us completely and unconditionally. We need to become secure in the truth that we cannot make God stop loving us.

Once we're secure inside God's unconditional love, we'll start cutting people a lot of slack. We won't be as angry as we've been. We'll be more patient. We'll be more forgiving. We'll be more merciful. We'll give others grace.

But you cannot give to others what you have not received yourself, and so my hope is that, as you learn how much God loves you, you'll also let him heal your heart so that his love can flow freely through you. It's impossible to love others until you really feel loved yourself.

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Daily Digest #388

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. —Psalm 51:17

Allow me to share an article about habits and hope from the Purpose Driven Life online (read below).

Molded into Godly Character

Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24 (NIV)

Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, "Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness"(Ephesians 4:24 NIV).

God uses his Word, people, and circumstances to mold us. All three are indispensable for character development. God's Word provides the truth we need to grow, God's people provide the support we need to grow, and circumstances provide the environment to practice Christlikeness.

If you study and apply God's Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, I guarantee you will become more like Jesus.

Many people assume all that is needed for spiritual growth is Bible study and prayer. But some issues in life will never be changed by Bible study or prayer alone. God uses people. He usually prefers to work through people rather than perform miracles, so that we will depend on each other for fellowship. He wants us to grow together.

In many religions, the people considered to be the most spiritually mature and holy are those who isolate themselves from others in mountaintop monasteries, uninfected by contact with other people.

But this is a gross misunderstanding. Spiritual maturity is not a solitary, individual pursuit!

You cannot grow to Christlikeness in isolation. You must be around other people and interact with them. You need to be a part of a church and community.

Why? Because true spiritual maturity is all about learning to love like Jesus, and you can't practice being like Jesus without being in relationship with other people.

Remember that during this Christmas season, when your family or friends challenge your ability to respond like Jesus!!

Remember, it's all about love - loving God and loving others.

It reminded me of Jesus' story, when he asked the lame sitting by the pool for 40 years if he wanted to be healed.... I learned that the first essential step towards growth and healing is the desire for change. It struck me because I was thinking about habits yesterday as I waited for the bus.... how thoughts can turn into actions, actions into habits, and habits into character... how the habit of laziness kills the opportunity to change and become better each day, wasting time going through the same problems and realizing the same solutions... . how bad habits can cause delays in what God has already started in me.... and how constant prayer and focus can help break these habits...

When Jesus saw the man again, He said, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." From here, I gathered that when we don't break our bad habits, we cannot expect things to get better. Otherwise, we would be like fools doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

For this, let us pray. Lord, thank you for the gift of choice... for giving us opportunities to learn, repent and change every day and be closer to You. We humbly ask for strength to face our fears and weaknesses. May we remain faithful no matter how hard things get, and trust that we are being molded into Your Son's likeness. Amen.

Enjoy the rest of the day! Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #387

That you . . . may be able to comprehend . . . what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ. —Ephesians 3:17-19

Indeed, there are many, many, many things to be thankful for everyday :D Allow me to write my prayer of thanks:

Thank You, Lord, for another waking day, full of blessings and opportunities to change, to love and to serve.

Thank You for blessing me with a peaceful sleep last night, and a smile on my face this morning.

Thank You for the prayers that have been said on my behalf early this morning. Please bless these people, whom I am grateful to have in my life.

Thank You for watching over my family, and for keeping us together in prayer. May You guide our choices today.

Thank You for my relationships -- my closest friends, my peers, people in the community. May You strengthen these bonds, in spite all odds, and be always in between.

Thank You for my job, not only for giving me means to earn a living, but also to learn to serve others as if I were serving You.

Thank You for a safe neighborhood, for surrounding me with good people who are always ready to help in any way they can.

Thank You for the children here at school who continuously inspire me to do better. Please bless them, their families and their homes.

Thank You for answering all my prayers and for the gift of discernment. May I always trust in Your word.

Thank You for providing me all the material things I need today, and for letting me realize that I have just enough.

Thank You for the gift of music, for inspiring me with Your words in many different ways.

Thank You for allowing me to see Your face in others. I pray that I may also serve as Your instrument so they may also see Your face in mine.

Thank You for the gift of humility and forgiveness. Thank You for always welcoming me back into Your arms, no matter how sinful or hopeless I become.

Thank You for bringing in new hope on this new day. Thank You for the lessons of the past.

Thank You for the gift of today. And thank You for the promise of tomorrow.

And lastly, thank You for showing me Your great unfailing and unconditional love -- through other people and my circumstances. May I always remember and be grateful for the rest of my life.... Amen.

There are so many other things to be thankful for, and God knows what is in our hearts. May we trust that God sees and hears EVERYTHING. May we learn to count our blessings rather than our misfortunes. And may we always remember how great is the Father's love for each of us, and what He has done to save us, through Jesus Christ. Let us be grateful everyday. Have a great weekend!

Happy Friday to you :D Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #386

They have not served You . . . in the many good things that You gave them. —Nehemiah 9:35

Good morning, everyone! :D I just wanted to share this article and video (watch below) about thanksgiving. Have a great day! Be a blessing to others today :D Pray always.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daily Digest #385

The word of the Lord has sounded forth . . . in every place. —1 Thessalonians 1:8

Allow me to share 2 articles from the Purpose Driven Life online, and 1 from Max Lucado online.

Show caring, consistent love

Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn't find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, 'Friend, I forgive your sins.' Luke 5:18-20 (Msg)

Give caring, consistent love to those who don't know Jesus.

Like the four friends who helped the paralytic, sometimes it takes something radical to lead someone to Jesus!

And sometimes it just takes the caring, consistent love of a small group of Christians. As we enter the holiday season, I want to encourage you to plan with your small group to reach out to friends and neighbors who do not know Jesus

The reason God used the four friends mentioned in Luke 5 is because they cared for the paralytic. Just like those four, your life mission should start with love - caring for those around you and caring enough about those who do not know Jesus that you reach out to them during this holiday season. The number one reason Christians don't share Christ with others is that they are too preoccupied with themselves.

Before you can care about others, you must become aware of them. When your small group meets, try to identify the people you know who need to know Jesus.

And start praying for them, that God will give you an opportunity to share your faith in a non-threatening way. Pray that God will soften their hearts and soften your heart.

Then, make a plan for how you can reach out to these people as a small group.

Believe God works through you

Your small group must believe God can work through you to reach people for Jesus.

No one is hopeless. When the four friends looked at the paralytic's condition, they could have responded in doubt: What could Jesus do? Instead, they believed God could heal him -- they had faith. The Bible said the paralytic's sins were forgiven when Jesus saw the faith of the four friends.

There are people paralyzed in our world, who aren't necessarily physically paralyzed, but who have a paralyzed faith. Whether they're paralyzed by doubts, loneliness, fear or anything else, the result is the same -- they need the faith of the others.

In a sense, they don't have enough faith to believe, so your faith is going to have to bring them to Jesus. The Apostle Paul asked for prayer, so "that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ ..." (Colossians 4:3 NIV)

A Useful Vessel

“If you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” Matthew 16:25 NLT

When you’re full of yourself, God can’t fill you.

But when you empty yourself, God has a useful vessel. Your Bible overflows with examples of those who did.

In his gospel, Matthew mentions his own name only twice. Both times he calls himself a tax collector. In his list of apostles, he assigns himself the eighth spot.

John doesn’t even mention his name in his gospel. The twenty appearances of “John” all refer to the Baptist. John the apostle simply calls himself “the other disciple” or the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Luke wrote two of the most important books in the Bible but never once penned his own name.

Let us pray. May we become worthy servants of Christ -- selfless, generous, caring and loving without conditions nor expectations. Lord, help us recognize opportunities to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. May humbly walk through the path You have laid out for us today. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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Daily Digest #384

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. —Mark 10:45

Allow me to share 3 articles from the Purpose Driven Life online regarding service.

Servants Do Every Task With Equal Dedication

“Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (Luke 16:10 NLT).

Servants do every task with equal dedication. Whatever they do, servants “do it with all their heart” (Colossians 3:23 NIV).

The size of the task is irrelevant. The only issue is, does it need to be done?

You will never arrive at the state in life where you’re too important to help with menial tasks. God will never exempt you from the mundane. It’s a vital part of your character curriculum. The Bible says, “If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody” (Galatians 6:3 NLT).

It is in these small services that we grow like Christ.

Jesus specialized in menial tasks that everyone else tried to avoid: washing feet, helping children, fixing breakfast, and serving lepers. Nothing was beneath Him, because He came to serve. It wasn’t in spite of His greatness that He did these things, but because of it, and He expects us to follow his example (John 13:15).

Small tasks often show a big heart. Your servant’s heart is revealed in little acts that others don’t think of doing, as when Paul gathered brushwood for a fire to warm everyone after a shipwreck (Acts 28:3).

He was just as exhausted as everyone else, but he did what everyone needed. No task is beneath you when you have a servant’s heart.

Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks. The little things in life determine the big things. Don’t look for great tasks to do for God. Just do the not-so-great stuff, and God will assign you whatever He wants you to do.

There will always be more people willing to do “great” things for God than there are people willing to do the little things. The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants.

Sometimes you serve upward to those in authority, and sometimes you serve downward to those in need. Either way, you develop a servant’s heart when you’re willing to do anything needed.

Servants Maintain a Low Profile

“And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the Scripture says, ‘God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5 TEV).

Real servants maintain a low profile. Servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. Instead of acting to impress and dressing for success, they “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another” (1 Peter 5:5 TEV).

If recognized for their service, they humbly accept it but don’t allow notoriety to distract them from their work. Paul exposed a kind of service that appears to be spiritual but is really just a put-on, a show, an act to get attention. He called it “eyeservice,” serving in order to impress people with how spiritual we are (Ephesians 6:6 KJV; Colossians 3:22 KJV).

This was a sin of the Pharisees. They turned helping others, giving, and even prayer into a performance for others. Jesus hated this attitude and warned, “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1 CEV).

Self-promotion and servanthood don’t mix. Real servants don’t serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for an audience of One. As Paul said, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

You won’t find many real servants in the limelight; in fact, they avoid it whenever possible. They are content with quietly serving in the shadows.

Joseph is a great example. He didn’t draw attention to himself, but quietly served Potiphar, then his jailer, then Pharaoh’s baker and wine taster, and God blessed that attitude. When Pharaoh promoted him to prominence, Joseph still maintained a servant’s heart, even with his brothers, who had betrayed him.

Unfortunately, many leaders today start off as servants but end up as celebrities. They become addicted to attention, unaware that always being in the spotlight blinds you.

You may be serving in obscurity in some small place, feeling unknown and unappreciated. Listen: God put you where you are for a purpose! He has every hair on your head numbered, and He knows your address.

Servants Finish Their Tasks

“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23 NLT).

Real servants are faithful to their ministry. Servants finish their tasks, fulfill their responsibilities, keep their promises, and complete their commitments. They don’t leave a job half undone, and they don’t quit when they get discouraged. They are trustworthy and dependable.

Faithfulness has always been a rare quality (Psalm 12:1; Proverbs 20:6; Philippians 2:19-22).

Most people don’t know the meaning of commitment. They make commitments casually, then break them for the slightest reason without any hesitation, remorse, or regret. Every week, churches and other organizations must improvise because volunteers didn’t prepare, didn’t show up, or didn’t even call to say they weren’t coming.

Can you be counted on by others? Are there promises you need to keep, vows you need to fulfill, or commitments you need to honor?

This is a test. God is testing your faithfulness. If you pass the test, you’re in good company: Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Daniel, Timothy, and Paul were all called faithful servants of God.

Even better, God has promised to reward your faithfulness in eternity. Imagine what it will feel like one day to have God say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23 NLT).

By the way, faithful servants never retire. They serve faithfully as long as they’re alive. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.

For this, let us pray. May we develop a servant's heart. May we allow His Spirit to mold us into good and faithful ambassadors of faith, love and goodwill. And in spite of these good works, may we count not what we have given, but rather what we have received as blessings. May we love, serve and live humbly everyday. Amen.

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Daily Digest #383

The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. —2 Samuel 18:33

Usually, when relationships are broken, we tend to turn a blind eye on the opportunities God gives for reconciliation. There's this growing pride saying, "it's totally his/her fault! he/she should say sorry" or "he/she has done this many times, i'm done with him/her". It is easy to judge when hurt, and we're usually tempted to get back at the person who hurt us :D But God moves in mysterious ways! His wisdom in moments of prayer pours in, and gives us strength to humble ourselves and own up to our faults. There is no room for judgement on others, only on one's self. And we learn to see Jesus' face in his/her face again, even the most spiteful of "enemies" :D Of course, we should also remember how our own emotions could be the worst enemy of all.

Among my many relationships, there were some very dear to me that I eventually lost. Some of which I wasn't willing to restore anymore, and some were because others were too proud or too "fed up" to work it out. But humbling moments with God taught me to assess myself in moments of difficulty with other people by asking: "Have I loved enough? Do my choices bring me closer to God?" I also realized that un-forgiveness is only caused by stubbornness to listen to God's voice and do God's will. Lack of prayer always drifts me farther away, and makes my wounds deeper, and my pain worse. I came to realize that only when I truly forgive and love do I attain peace of mind.

Broken relationships are God's wake up call to assess ourselves and our priorities. That's why we should always pray for our relationships, that God may be in the center ALWAYS. Conflicts can always be solved, only if we're willing to cooperate. Sometimes we focus too much on what we can gain, rather than what we can give. May today's reading serve as a reminder for us to pray, to love and to forgive. We may give up on others or ourselves, but God will never give up on us.

Let us praise God for our many blessings and for answering our prayers! May God bless our relationships and guide our choices today. Amen.

Have a wonderful day ahead! Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #382

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. —1 Peter 4:10

I just remembered an incident when my parents were here in September. We were on our way to the province that time. I had everything planned to prevent hassles along the way. But for some reason, the bus schedule changed: from 6am to 9am! I didn't want to make my parents wait for 3hours, especially when they woke up so early in the morning. So we took the bus that would take us halfway, and just pick up from there. When we arrived, the clerk at the ticket desk informed us that the bus to our destination would arrive in 2hours. I started to get pissed off with all the change of schedule. I had been there 4 times already, and the schedules have always been the same, until that trip. I worried so much that I almost left my laptop in the bus! I had to run to fetch it, and it was already about to depart! Good thing, my parents were calm and just enjoying the experience, which in turn kept me still. That time, I remembered to pray. I said a quick prayer, apologized for my worries and impatience, and asked God for help. Suddenly, a Thai lady approached us and offered some help. She took us to a small travel agency that offered trips every hour. She even assisted us in paying for our tickets because the ticket lady was talking so fast, I couldn't understand anything she said. After a few minutes, we were finally seated comfortably in the van. I never got to thank the lady again. The last time I saw her was at a quick stopover. She walked hurriedly away from the van (I think that was her stop), right after the driver dropped my guitar huhu. For some reason, I fretted about the dent quicker than expected (I normally go ballistic about anything bad that's happened to my guitar, or to stuff that I treasure). The dent in my guitar has been a great reminder to me about the previous incident -- how God sends help in times of need, and that I should pray instead of worry -- and that I need not be so attached to material things heheh.

For this, join me in prayer. May we be inspired by good examples we witness in others to do the same. May we be ambassadors of Christ, not hesitating to offer a helping hand to those who need them. May we always remember that there's a reason why we are put in a certain situation, or why we encounter a certain person. May we see all these as blessings, and thank God -- for the grace, if not, for the lesson :D

Also, allow me to share today's post by Max Lucado (read below). Happy weekend! Pray always. God bless!

Timely Help

“We will find grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

God’s help is timely. He helps us the same way a father gives plane tickets to his family. When I travel with my kids, I carry all our tickets in my satchel. When the moment comes to board the plane, I stand between the attendant and the child. As each daughter passes, I place a ticket in her hand. She, in turn, gives the ticket to the attendant. Each one receives the ticket in the nick of time.

What I do for my daughters God does for you. He places himself between you and the need. And at the right time, he gives you the ticket. Wasn’t this the promise he gave his disciples? “When you are arrested and judged, don’t worry ahead of time about what you should say. Say whatever is given you to say at that time, because it will not really be you speaking; it will be the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11, emphasis mine).

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Four Secrets To Answered Prayer

By Rick Warren | Thursday, November 5, 2009 | 11:01 AM EST

“Then [Nehemiah] said, ‘O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! . . . I confess that we have sinned against you . . . Please remember what you told your servant Moses: If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them, then even if you are exiled to the ends of the earth, I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me’” (Nehemiah 1:5-11 NLT).

Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:

Base your request on God’s character--Pray like you know God will answer you: "I’m expecting You to answer this prayer because of Who You are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!"

Confess the sins of which you’re aware--After Nehemiah based his prayer on who God is, he confessed his sins. He says, "We’ve sinned." He says "I confess . . . myself . . . my father’s house . . . we have acted wickedly . . . we have not obeyed." It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened and he was most likely born in captivity. Yet, he’s including himself in the national sins. He says, "I’ve been a part of the problem.”

Claim the promises of God--Nehemiah prays to the Lord, saying, "I want You to remember what You told your servant Moses." Can you imagine saying "remember" to God? Nehemiah reminds God of a promise He made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prays, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we repent, You’d give it back to us.

Does God have to be reminded? No. Does He forget what He’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.

Be very specific in what you ask for--If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?

Nehemiah is not hesitant to pray for success. He’s very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, "Lord, make me successful?” If you haven’t, why haven’t you? What is the alternative? A failure?

Is it OK to ask God to make you successful? It all depends on your definition of success! I believe a good definition of success is--"Fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and expecting the results from God.” That is a worthy life objective that you should be able to pray for with confidence.

Consider this--If you can’t ask God to make you a success at what you’re doing, you should be doing something else. God doesn’t want you to waste your life.

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Daily Digest #381

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23

There Are No Shortcuts to Maturity

“I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6 LB).

It takes years for us to grow to adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit. The development of Christlike character cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes time.

When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavor. In the United States, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won’t bruise during shipping to the stores. Then, before they are sold, these green tomatoes are sprayed with CO2 gas to turn them red instantly. Gassed tomatoes are edible, but they are no match to the flavor of a vine-ripened tomato that is allowed to mature slowly.

While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow. God views our lives from and for eternity, so he is never in a hurry.

Christian author Lane Adams once compared the process of spiritual growth to the strategy the Allies used during World War II to liberate islands in the South Pacific. First they would “soften up” an island, weakening the resistance by shelling the enemy strongholds with bombs from offshore ships.

Next, a small group of Marines would invade the island and establish a “beachhead”—a tiny fragment of the island that they could control. Once the beachhead was secured, they would begin the long process of liberating the rest of the island, one bit of territory at a time. Eventually the entire island would be brought under control, but not without some costly battles.

Adams drew this parallel: Before Christ invades our lives at conversion, he sometimes has to “soften us up” by allowing problems we can’t handle. While some open their lives to Christ the first time he knocks on the door, most of us are resistant and defensive. Our pre-conversion experience is Jesus saying, “Behold, I stand at the door and bomb!”

The moment you open yourself to Christ, God gets a beachhead in your life. You may think you have surrendered all of your life to him, but the truth is, there is a lot to your life that you aren’t even aware of. You can only give God as much of you as you understand at that moment. That’s okay.

Once Christ is given a beachhead, he begins the campaign to take over more and more territory until all of your life is completely his. There will be struggles and battles, but the outcome will never be in doubt. God has promised that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).

A God-fashioned Life

"Take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG)."

Many religions and New Age philosophies promote the old lie that we are divine or can become gods. Let me be absolutely clear: you will never become God, or even a god.

That prideful lie is Satan’s oldest temptation. Satan promised Adam and Eve that if they followed his advice, “you shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5 KJV).

This desire to be a god shows up every time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and people around us. But as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want you to become a god; he wants you to become godly, taking on his values, attitudes, and character. We are meant to “take on ... a God-fashioned life” (Ephesians 4:22-24 MSG).

God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone.

God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.

God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the Beatitudes of Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul’s great chapter on love, and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (Matthew 5:1-12, Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13, 2 Peter 1:5-8).

Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I having such a difficult time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, earth is not heaven!

Many Christians misinterpret Jesus’ promise of the “abundant life” (John 10:10) to mean perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, full realization of your dreams, and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer.

In a word, they expect the Christian life to be easy. They expect heaven on earth.

This self-absorbed perspective treats God as a genie who simply exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. But God is not your servant, and if you fall for the idea that life is supposed to be easy, either you will become severely disillusioned or you will live in denial of reality.

Never forget that life is not about you! You exist for God’s purposes, not vice versa. Why would God provide heaven on earth when he’s planned the real thing for you in eternity? God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven.

Let us pray... Lord, thank You for the opportunity You give us everyday to have a change of heart. Please help us build a strong character foundation rooted in You. May we strive to have that constant connection with You by the power of prayer, and establish a deep and meaningful relationship with You. May we trust that someday we will be made perfect like Your Son, in Your will and time. Amen.

Happy Thursday! Pray always. God bless!

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Daily Digest #380

The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. —Genesis 2:7

This was forwarded to me earlier: It's a very interesting and awakening environmental video. The first several images have already caught my attention, and I've decided to show it to my kids in class later today. I guess one of the biggest, and most neglected, responsibility we have is the caring of our surroundings. We have abused our resources in many "innovative" ways that we don't realize how we have caused serious imbalance to our planet. May this video allow us to look back where we came from, and how blessed we are to have Earth as our temporary home.

I am also posting 3 articles about service, from the Purpose Driven Life online. May we assess our actions, and be reminded of our purpose for Him.

Happy Wednesday! Pray always. God bless!

We Serve God by Serving Others

“Whoever wants to be great must become a servant” (Mark 10:43 MSG).

We serve God by serving others.

The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.

Jesus, however, measured greatness in terms of service, not status. God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.

This is so contrary to the world’s idea of greatness that we have a hard time understanding it, much less practicing it. The disciples argued about who deserved the most prominent position, and 2,000 years later, Christian leaders still jockey for position and prominence in churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries.

Thousands of books have been written on leadership, but few on servanthood. Everyone wants to lead; no one wants to be a servant. We would rather be generals than privates. Even Christians want to be “servant-leaders,” not just plain servants. But to be like Jesus is to be a servant. That’s what he called himself.

While knowing your shape is important for serving God, having the heart of a servant is even more important. Remember, God shaped you for service, not for self-centeredness. Without a servant’s heart, you will be tempted to misuse your shape for personal gain. You will also be tempted to use it as an excuse to exempt yourself from meeting some needs.

God often tests our hearts by asking us to serve in ways we’re not shaped. If you see a man fall into a ditch, God expects you to help him out, not say, “I don’t have the gift of mercy or service.”

While you may not be gifted a particular task, you may be called to do it if no one who is gifted at it is around. Your primary ministry should be in the area of your shape, but your secondary service is wherever you’re needed at the moment.

Your shape reveals your ministry, but your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity. No special talent or gift is required to stay after a meeting to pick up trash or stack chairs. Anyone can be a servant. All it requires is character.

It is possible to serve in church for a lifetime without ever being a servant. You must have a servant’s heart.

How can you know if you have the heart of a servant?

Jesus said, “You can tell what they are by what they do” (Matthew 7:16 CEV).

Servants Make Themselves Available

“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4 NASB).

Real servants make themselves available to serve. Servants don’t fill up their time with other pursuits that could limit their availability. They want to be ready to jump into service when called on.

Much like a soldier, a servant must always be standing by for duty: “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4 NASB).

If you only serve when it’s convenient for you, you’re not a real servant. Real servants do what’s needed, even when it’s inconvenient.

Are you available to God anytime? Can he mess up your plans without you becoming resentful? As a servant, you don’t get to pick and choose when or where you will serve.

Being a servant means giving up the right to control your schedule and allowing God to interrupt it whenever he needs to.

If you will remind yourself at the start of every day that you are God’s servant, interruptions won’t frustrate you as much, because your agenda will be whatever God wants to bring into your life. Servants see interruptions as divine appointments for ministry and are happy for the opportunity to practice serving.

Real Servants Pay Attention

“Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now” (Proverbs 3:28 TEV).

Real servants pay attention to needs. Servants are always on the lookout for ways to help others. When they see a need, they seize the moment to meet it, just as the Bible commands us: “Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10 GWT).

When God puts someone in need right in front of you, he is giving you the opportunity to grow in servanthood. Notice that God says the needs of your church family are to be given preference, not put at the bottom of your “things to do” list.

We miss many occasions for serving because we lack sensitivity and spontaneity. Great opportunities to serve never last long. They pass quickly, sometimes never to return again. You may only get one chance to serve that person, so take advantage of the moment.

“Never tell your neighbors to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now” (Proverbs 3:28 TEV).

John Wesley was an incredible servant of God. His motto was: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”

That is greatness. You can begin by looking for small tasks that no one else wants to do. Do these little things as if they were great things, because God is watching.

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Daily Digest #379

We should not trust in ourselves but in God. —2 Corinthians 1:9
It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” —Luke 4:4

I was browsing through facebook earlier and was entertained by the many posts, videos and shoutouts from various friends. Many of which helped me remember the things I used to believe, the songs I used to hear, and the words that has repeatedly reassured me of God's presence in my life. So thank you, dear friends :D You have no idea how much of a blessing you are to others. May you continue to be His instruments of love and inspiration :D

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Part 1

"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children . . . so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said" (Genesis 16:1–2 NIV).

And so Sarai took it upon herself to solve God's problem. After all, God told Sarai's husband, Abram, that he'd have a huge family, more descendants than there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15).

Sarai waited and waited for God to provide their first descendant, to answer her prayers, to make good on his promise--but the baby didn't come. Every day, the tension and the frustration mounted. As that great theologian and musician, Tom Petty, sings: "The waiting is the hardest part."

Like me--perhaps like you--Sarai began to wonder if God would ever answer her prayers or if he had forgotten about her. Perhaps--like you, like me--Sarai questioned whether God really knew what he was doing.

It appears Sarai's thoughts walked as far as her faith would carry her until she stood looking at the mountains of her fear. Did God understand how important this was to her? How could God deny her the greatest desire of her heart? Was God even on her side?

Even as Sarai acknowledged God's ability to fulfill the promise--"The LORD has kept me from having any children . . . "--she denied God's sovereignty to decide when the promise would be fulfilled.

If we could ask Sarai, "Can God?" she most likely would answer "Yes." If we then asked Sarai, "Will God?" her honest answer may have been "No."

When faced with a delayed answer, do you break with God? What does manipulating an answer to our prayers say about our belief in God's character?

Part 2

"Now the serpent . . . said to the woman, 'Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1 NIV).

And so Sarai took it upon herself to fulfill the promise, no longer trusting God to do his job. The waiting is the hardest part, and Sarai was tired of the wait.

Sitting in a humid tent, she heard the support poles creak; she heard, through the open flaps, a camel snort; and she heard . . . was that a voice, like the hiss of a serpent, saying, "Did God really say your husband would be the father of a family so vast it would surpass the number of stars in the sky?" (Consider Genesis 3).

Perhaps Sarai said, "God can, but he won't." Or maybe she said, "God can't figure this out, but I can." Looking through the tent's door, she saw her servant Hagar, and in that moment she saw the solution, though she didn't see the Pandora's box she would soon open. Perhaps she even thought, "Of course! This is probably the answer God meant for me to see all along."

Sarai believed her assumptions more than she believed God's promise. She wondered why God was no longer on her side--"Why is the LORD keeping this from me?"--instead of confessing she was no longer one with God's will.

Ask God to help you identify the places in your life where you're saying, "The LORD is keeping this from me!" God's interest is that you master the lessons of faith. He wants you to succeed, able to walk further in faith each day. So failure is not defeat; he will continue to teach you--and stretch you--until walking by faith and not by sight is as natural as breathing. Tell God, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Part 3

“God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’” (Genesis 17:15–16 NIV).

(This guest devotional is by Jon Walker, author of ‘Growing with Purpose,’ and editor of the Purpose Driven Life On-line Devotionals. )

Just like you or me, Sarah and Abraham may have thought, “God doesn’t understand our circumstances; his commandments are good guidelines, but they simply don’t work well in the nitty-gritty of life.”

And so Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

Yet the promise had been that Sarah would be the one to deliver a son for Abraham; so the wait continued, long after reaching the point of desperate frustration- -the place where you say, “God, I can’t go on any longer!”

You’ve been there--like the widow knocking on the judge’s door, you pray day and night but the shutters stay closed and the door remains shut (Luke 18). Sarah and Abraham knocked on that door for another fourteen years! (Genesis 16:16; Genesis 21:5).

While Abraham and Sarah waited, God made a covenant with Abram, changing his name to Abraham, which means “father of many.” And he changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, saying she would be the mother of nations and among her off-spring would be kings (Genesis 17 NIV).

Then God sent three mysterious visitors to tell Abraham that Sarah would provide him a son within the year. Sarah laughed, not believing God was about to give birth to his promise (Genesis 18).

Yet, they were totally and wholly dependent upon God to fulfill his promise. Not dependent because they’d obediently submitted everything to God, but totally dependent because they’d exhausted every other possibility.

And that’s often why God delays. He’s waiting on us to be ready for him.

Finally, God opened Sarah’s womb so she could bear Abraham a son in his old age, at the time appointed by God (Genesis 21:2).

For this, let us pray. Lord, please help us put to good use the little faith we have in our hearts. May You continue to speak to us in ways that we would understand. May we open our ears to Your message, and gain courage to act upon the things You ask us to do. In moments of fear or doubt or hopelessness, may we cling to You and find comfort in You. May we learn to fight temptation with Your words, and Your love. These we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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Daily Digest #378

Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem. —Philippians 2:29

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble [James 4:6]..... It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud [Proverbs 16:1]

Allow me to share another article from the Purpose Driven Life online...

The Four Laws of God’s Blessing

“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing to others” (Genesis 12:2 NLT).

The Bible teaches that we should use our blessings to bless others –

Our blessings should flow to others.
The Bible teaches us that we are blessed not just so that we can feel good, not just so we can be happy and comfortable, but so that we will bless others. God told Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others” (Genesis 12:2 NLT). This is the first law of blessing: it must flow outwardly.

When we bless others, God takes care of our needs.
God promises that if we will concentrate on blessing others, he’ll take care of our needs. There’s almost nothing that God won’t do for the person who really wants to help other people. In fact, God guarantees this blessing. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth . . . no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29-30 NIV).

When you care about helping other people, God assumes responsibility for your problems. And that’s a real blessing, for he’s much better at handling your difficulties than you are.

Our blessings to others will come back on us.
The more you bless other people . . . the more you help others, the more God blesses your life. Luke tells us, “Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back--given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity" (Luke 6:38 MSG).

You cannot out give God. The more you try to bless other people in the world around you, the more God says, “I’m going to pour blessings out on you. We’ll play a little game here. Let’s see who will win. Let’s see who can give the most. The more you bless others the more I’m going to bless you in return.”

The more we’re blessed by God the more He expects us to help others.
Jesus said it this way: “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given” (Luke 12:48 TEV).

Would you agree that based on the blessings of your life you probably have a greater responsibility than other people in the world? If you live in the United States, I’m sure you’d agree, because it’s obvious we’ve been given freedom that many people don’t have. We’ve been given opportunities that many people don’t have. We’ve been given material and physical and spiritual abundance that a lot of people around the world simply do not have.

Think this through with me. If I’ve been blessed more than the rest of the world then it would stand to reason that God would want me to care about the rest of the world. Does that make sense?

May we reminded of our role as servants, always giving praise to God for everything that is good, and not keeping the glory for ourselves. May we be humbled by our circumstances -- good or bad. And may the good examples we witness in others urge us to have a change of heart, and do the same, or even greater things, in His name. May we be a blessing to others, just as others have been a blessing to us... These we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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