You are set apart for God; and he has accepted you because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.... As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:15).
**Takeaway: As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives.
God has bought you with a great price.... Anyone who believes and says that Jesus is the Son of God has God living in him.... I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ's have been given to him! (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 John 4:15; Ephesians 1:18).
**Takeaway: God has been made rich because we who are Christ's have been given to him!
Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well (Romans 12:4-6).
**Takeaway: God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.
Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, "Stop, you're doing it wrong!" or the pot exclaim, "How clumsy can you be!"? Woe to the baby just being born who squalls to his father and mother, "Why have you produced me? Can't you do anything right at all?" Jehovah... says: What right have you to question what I do? Who are you to command me concerning the work of my hands?... 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 (Isaiah 45:9-11; Philippians 1:6).
**Takeaway: Woe to the man who fights with his Creator. Does the clay dispute with him who forms it, saying, "Stop, you're doing it wrong"?
God said, "Let us make a man---someone like ourselves, to be the master of all life upon the earth and in the skies and in the seas." So God made man like his Maker. Like God did God make man; man and maid did he make them.... Then God looked over all that he had made, and it was excellent in every way (Genesis 1:26-27,31).
**Takeaway: Man and maid did God make them, excellent in every way.
Dear brothers whom God has set apart for himself.... You are the world's seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world?... You are the world's light (Hebrews 3:1; Matthew 5:13-14).
**Takeaway: You are the world's seasoning whom God has set apart for himself.
|WHEN YOU ARE HAPPY|
Is anyone among you... happy? He should sing praises (James 5:13, TEV.).
**Takeaway: Happy? Sing praises!
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, shining stars.... Praise him, kings and all peoples, princes and all other rulers; girls and young men, old people and children too.... His name is greater than all others; his glory is above earth and heaven.... Praise the LORD! (Psalm 148:3,11-14,TEV).
**Takeaway: Praise the LORD!
Wake up, my soul! Wake up, my harp and lyre! I will wake up the sun. I will thank you, O Lord... I will praise you.... Your constant love reaches above the heavens; your faithfulness touches the skies (Psalm 108:1-4, TEV).
**Takeaway: Wake up, my soul! Lord, I will praise you.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.... Thou art my God, I will exalt thee.... With trumpets and sound of cornets make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together (Psalm 118:24,28; 98:6-8,KJV).
**Takeaway: This is the day which the Lord hath made. Rejoice!
I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name each day and forever.... I will meditate about your glory, splendor, majesty, and miracles.... I will proclaim your greatness (Psalm 145:1-2,5-6).
**Takeaway: I will meditate about your glory, splendor, majesty, and miracles.
O come, let us sing unto the Lord.... Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.... O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker (Psalm 95:1-2,6, KJV).
**Takeaway: Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.
Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord!... Praise him for his mighty works. Praise his unequaled greatness. Praise hime with the trumpet and with lute and harp. Praise him with the drums and dancing. Praise him with stringed instruments and horns. Praise him with the cymbals, yes, loud clanging cymbals. Let everything alive give praises to the Lord! You praise him! Hallelujah! (Psalm 150).
**Takeaway: Praise him with cymbals, yes, loud clanging cymbals! Hallelujah!
|HOW TO BE HAPPY|
What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have comfessed their sins and God has cleared their record (Psalm 32:1-2).
**Takeaway: What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NKJV).
**Takeaway: Blessed is the man whose hope is the Lord.
Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised! Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully! Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! ... Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children! (Matthew 5:5-7,9,TEV).
**Takeaway: Happy are those who are merciful to others.
If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instruction. Never tire of loyalty and kindness. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart.... In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success (Proverbs 3:2-3,6).
**Takeaway: Put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.
If you want a happy, good life, keep control of your tongue, and guard your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it! (1 Peter 3:10-11).
**Takeaway: If you want a happy, good life, keep control of your tongue.
God has already given you everything you need.... He has given you the whole world to use, and life and even death are your servants. He has given you all of the present and all of the future.... You belong to Christ, and Christ is God's.... So you have everything when you have Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Colossians 2:10).
**Takeaway: You have everything when you have Christ.
Follow the steps of the godly... and stay on the right path, for only good men enjoy life to the full (Proverbs 2:20-21).
**Takeaway: Only good men enjoy life to the full.
|WHEN YOU FEEL BLUE|
The Lord lifts the fallen and those bent beneath their loads.... He is close to all who call on him sincerely (Psalm 145:14,18).
**Takeaway: The Lord lifts those bent beneath their loads.
All who are oppressed may come to him. He is a refuge for them in their times of trouble.... He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds (Psalm 9:9; 147:3).
**Takeaway: He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.
Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too. After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever (1 Peter 5:9-10).
**Takeaway: Christians all around the world are going through these sufferings too.
God... the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy... wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
**Takeaway: God wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29,NIV).
**Takeaway: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day's problems; live in vital union with him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him (Colossians 2:6-7).
**Takeaway: Just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day's problems.
Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.... Think about the loving-kindness of the Lord! (Philippians 4:8; Psalm 107:43).
**Takeaway: Think about things that are pure and lovely. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.
|ANTIDOTE FOR THE BLUES|
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise.... Happy are those who make the Lord their trust (Psalm 40:1-4,NRSV).
**Takeaway: He drew me up from the miry bog. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?... I say to God, my rock:"Why have you forgotten me?"... But I trust in you, O Lord.... My times are in your hand.... Let your face shine upon your servant (Psalm 42:5,9;31:14-16, NRSV).
**Takeaway: My times are in your hand. Let thy face shine on thy servant.
O my people in Jerusalem, you shall weep no more, for he will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. He will answer you. Though he give you the bread of adversity and water of affliction, yet he will be with you to teach you---with your own eyes you will see your Teacher (Isaiah 30:19-20).
**Takeaway: Though he give you the bread of adversity, yet he will be with you to teach you.
Come, let us return to the Lord; it is he who has torn us---he will heal us. He has wounded---he will bind us up.... He will set us on our feet again to live in his kindness!... Let us press on to know him, and he will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn or the rain of early spring (Hosea 6:1-3).
**Takeaway: He will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn or the rain of early spring.