Lenten Journey Day 19; Wise

*image source: google.com/images

11-Mar-12:  1 Corinthians 1:18-25

18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

 

http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/7454/

http://cloakedmonk.com/2012/02/20/join-me-in-a-lenten-journey/

Lenten Journey Day 9; Atoned

*image source: google.com/images

1-Mar-12:  Romans 3:21-31

1 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

 

http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/7454/

http://cloakedmonk.com/2012/02/20/join-me-in-a-lenten-journey/

This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch: Correcting Misperceptions

Correcting Misperceptions

Lesson 25 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind

By Eric Elder
The Ranch

The way we perceive things isn’t always the way they are.  Yet those misperceptions can persist for years, causing us to miss the truth of what God might be trying to say to us.  But God has a way of bringing the truth into our lives, if we’re open to it, in a way that can renew our minds and change our perspective on everything.

 

I had an email from a woman who wondered if Jesus could possibly love her–not because of something she had done, but because of who she was:  a Jew.  She had always been told that Jesus doesn’t love Jews.  Yet after reading some of the stories on my website, she was confronted with a new truth.  Was is possible that Jesus might love a Jew?

 

I don’t want to betray her confidence, but I would like to share a portion of her heartfelt letter with you because I feel that her words express something that we all wonder about at times:  whether God really loves us or not, too.  Here’s part of what she said in her letter.  How would you answer her?

 

I was sent your site by accident, and have been reading the stories.  The more I read the more questions I have.  I’ve never seen Jesus portrayed as this site does.  I should tell you that I’m Jewish and I believe in the one true G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

 

I’ve read some the stories on your site and have to wonder how they could be true, but I can’t stop reading them either, something just feels right about them.  My heritage has ingrained in me that Jesus isn’t for my people.  I can’t explain why, but I find some of the stories making me cry and I’m not one that cries easily.  It doesn’t make sense.  I don’t even know why I’m writing.  I’m just really confused.  How can this G-d of yours, be the G-d I’ve grown up with?  Would Jesus love someone who hasn’t been faithfully reading the Torah for a long time? 

 

I’m sorry, I know this doesn’t make any sense, and I’ve always been told that Jesus doesn’t love Jews.  But after reading some of the stories I just don’t know what to believe.  Is it possible he might love a Jew?

 

How would you answer a letter like that?  Could you find enough evidence in the Bible to show that Jesus really did love this woman?  And even if you could, how could you convey it to her in a way that she would believe it?

 

As for me, I shared with her that I could understand why she might wonder if Jesus loved the Jews.  But the truth is that Jesus was a Jew.  His own twelve disciples were Jewish.  And the whole New Testament-which talks about Jesus-was written by Jews.

Jesus Himself never left the land of Israel to go to any other nation, except for a brief time as a child when His parents took Him to Egypt to avoid being killed by King Herod.

 

Does Jesus love the Jews?  Absolutely!  But sometimes it’s hard to see the truth through all of the misperceptions that we’ve been taught or believed for so many years.

 

The Apostle Paul faced similar misperceptions among the people that he ministered to as well.  Some of them believed that God had finally given up on the Jews, because Paul and others were now taking the gospel to the Gentiles.

 

But nothing could have been further from the truth.  In Romans 11, Paul said:

 

“I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah-how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace” (Romans 11:1-5).

 

God’s heart still beat with love for the Jews, and the Apostle Paul was one of many of them.  Paul  himself regularly preached and ministered in the Jewish synagogues first whenever he arrived at a new town, just as Jesus did (see Matthew 4:26, 9:35, 12:9, 13:54, Acts 14:1, 17:2, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8).

 

But Paul, like Jesus, faced a fair amount of opposition in the synagogues, and when they were thrown out of them, they took their message just as zealously to the Gentiles in those areas.  After several years of this, it seems that some of the Gentiles began to think of themselves more highly than the Jews around them.  But Paul gave them this warning:

 

“I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

 

“If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either” (Romans 11:13-21).

 

Paul wisely warns the Romans not to be arrogant about God’s love for them, but to remember that they were grafted into the root because of their faith, and to stand firm in that faith to the end.

 

We all have misperceptions at times.  Whether we’re Jewish and questioning God’s love for us, or whether we’re Gentiles and becoming arrogant about His love for us.  In either case, God wants to bring His truth into our lives and clear up any misperceptions we might have.  He wants us to know that He loves us deeply, and to respond to that love in faith.

 

I was talking recently to a father and his college-age son who felt a barrier had grown up between them.  The father seemed to feel the son wasn’t interested in a relationship with him because of some of the things that had passed between them, and the son felt that his father was no longer interested in a relationship with him because of the distance that he felt.

 

During our talk, the father said that not a day went by when he didn’t think about his son, and the son said that he wished he could find ways to spend more meaningful time with his father.  Yet these thoughts had gone unspoken for so long that both of them felt the other no longer loved or cared about the other.  It was only when the Holy Spirit brought out these deep truths through their conversation that they realized that they both eagerly wanted their relationship to be restored, but didn’t know how to express it.  Tears flowed as they prayed together, having come face to face with the truth.  I pray they’re on a new path in their relationship with one another.

 

I also pray for the Jewish woman who wrote to me, that God would continue to speak His truth into her life, and help her to respond to that truth in faith.  I know He can do it, for He has done it for me and for many, many other people throughout history.  I believe He can do it for you, too.

 

At the end of Romans, chapter 11, Paul breaks out into one of the most beautiful doxologies in the Bible-an eruption of praise to God:

 

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 

   How unsearchable His judgments,  
   and His paths beyond tracing out!  
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?  
   Or who has been His counselor?’ 
‘Who has ever given to God,  
   that God should repay Him?’ 
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  
   To Him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

 

 

If you need some of God’s deep wisdom and knowledge in your life this week, I’d encourage you to call out to Him and ask Him to reveal more of His truth to you.  Ask Him to correct any misperceptions you may have about Him, or about your relationships with those around you.  Ask Him to guide you and direct you and point you in the direction He wants you to go, trusting that He will always lead you along a path that is absolutely the best for you.

 

Then, when He reveals His wisdom to you, I pray you’ll respond to it in faith, taking the steps that He wants you to take.  When you do, I hope you’ll find yourself like Paul, erupting in praise and saying:

 

“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  … To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.”

 

Will you pray with me?

 

Father, thank You for reminding us that we don’t always have the fullness of Your truth, but that if we come to You, You can pour it out on us in abundance.  Lord, reveal Your truth to us this week so we can clear up any misperceptions we have about You and about those around us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

P.S.  I’ve begun a new prayer team for our ministry in recent weeks, and would love for you to join it if you’d like to pray for us on a regular basis.  While it may seem self-serving to ask others to pray for us, it’s actually just the opposite!  By having you pray for us, we’ll be able to reach out farther and do more than ever before!  We all benefit when we pray for each other.  If you’d like to be on our prayer team and receive an update of our prayers and praises every month or so, just send me a note at eric@theranch.org.  Thanks so much!

 

Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 11:1-32.  In verses 13 and 14, what does Paul say is one of the benefits he hopes will result from his ministry to the Gentiles?
2. What would you say to someone who’s Jewish who wonders if Jesus might possibly love them?
3. In verses 17-21, what reason does Paul give for why some branches were broken off, and why others were grafted in?
4. What misperceptions might you have, whether about God’s love for you or about your relationships with others, that God might want to correct?  Call out to Him this week and ask Him to reveal His truth to you.

 

To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind,please visit:
The Romans Study

 

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This Day’s Thought For Wednesday

This Day's Thought

Prayer Requests

Let us see God before man every day.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne


This Day's Verse

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Chirst.  It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes- the Jew first and also the Gentile.  This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.  This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.  As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

Romans 1:16-17
The New Living Translation 


This Day's Smile

The devil enjoys hearing a prayer that is addressed to an audience.

Unknown


This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Getting To The Heart

(This Day’s Thought is pleased to feature Eric Elder’s latest series called “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind”) 
 

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Getting To The Heart

Lesson 6 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
www.theranch.org
 

 
I have thought for some time now that someone should make a movieabout two men engaged in an epic battle with one other.  In some ways, it would be like every other movie:  the hero and villain would be at war throughout the movie, with the hero having the upper hand at some points, and the villain gaining the upper hand at others.  Near the end, the hero would deliver the fatal blow that sends the villain to his doom forever.  But the difference in this movie would be that just before the closing creditsbegin to roll, the camera would back up from the final battle scene, revealing to the audience that the hero and the villain were one and the same person, fighting atop of a brain inside a man’s head.  Fresh from the victory in his mind, we would see the man finally stand up and walk forward to do what’s right.  No longer bound by the thoughts that were raging within him, he would finally be free to live the life he was called to live.An audience of such a movie might think that they had been tricked into thinking that the whole battle was “real” for the entire movie, when it was only being played out inside the man’s head.  But to those who saw what was taking place at a deeper level, they would realize that what took place inside the man’s head was no less real than what took place after he stood up at the end.  

The victory in our mind is often just as critical as a victory in the physical world.  In fact, we often need to secure the victory in our mind first before we can secure the victory in the physical world.

There are, however, ways to cover up our true thoughts and feelings with words and actions that make it look like we’ve got it all together on the inside.  This kind of activity might deceive men, but it never deceives God.  God wants us to win the victory in our minds and in the physical world.  When there’s a disconnect between what’s going on inwardly and what’s going on outwardly, God wants us to get to the heart.

Paul addressed this disconnect in his letter to the Romans.  The Jews were priding themselves on the outward signs of their faith, like the fact that they were circumcised whereas the Gentiles, or non-Jews, weren’t.  But Paul said:

“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.  Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

In some ways, the Jews could have seen circumcision as one of the symbols of their salvation.  It was a physical sign imprinted on their bodies that they belonged to God, that they were children of a special covenant between God and His people.  But Paul said that if their circumcision was external only, then it would only merit praise from men, not from God.  

God wanted their circumcision to be a “circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”  Paul said that the Gentiles, who didn’t have the law of God written down for them, would be more honoring to God than the Jews if the Gentiles kept the requirements of the law by doing what’s right.  Paul said:

“If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?  The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker” (Romans 2:26-27).

This isn’t to say that circumcision and the law was of no value to the Jews, as we’ll find out next time in chapter 3 of Paul’s letter.  But it is to say that God wants our inward reality to match up with our outward reality.  And when we get to the heart first, the outward actions will flow much more naturally.  

I got an email from a friend who is struggling with p..n ogr.phy (I didn’t type out the full word so that this email will get past people’s spam filters).  For years, this friend has battled this battle, thinking of himself as an addict.  He hasn’t been sure if he will ever break free.  Although I believe he can and he will, it’s hard for him to believe it, because of the length and the strength of his battle.  

Yet in his most recent email, he said he had just been to a counselor who asked him many in-depth questions about his struggle.  After reviewing the situation, the counselor said that he doesn’t think my friend has an addiction and he told my friend several reasons why.  This was news to my friend because he’s been feeling like an addict for years!  It changed my friend’s thinking about his situation and he’s already had some small victories in his battle since then!

My friend’s actions are beginning to change because he has changed the way he thinks about his problem.  He now sees that there’s a possibility that he really can be free from this battle that has dogged him for so long.

God cares about what’s going on inside your brain.  He cares about what’s going on inside your heart.  And He cares about what you do as a result of what’s going on inside your brain and heart.  What happens internally is just as important—and just as real—as what happens externally.

In one of the final scenes of the Harry Potter series, Harry has a fairly surreal experience and talks about it with one of his most trusted mentors.  As their conversation comes to a close, Harry asks:

“Tell me one last thing.  Is this real?  Or has this been happening inside my head?

His mentor replies:

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

Sometimes we think that the thoughts in our head are separate from, and unrelated to, the actions that we take in our lives.  We treat the two as different realities.  But the truth is that our thoughts influence our actions.  Both are real and God cares about both.

God wants you to have the victory on the inside so you can have the victory on the outside.  

He doesn’t want you to be obedient just so you can say you have faith in Him.  He wants you to have faith in Him so that you can be obedient.  

While there can be value in just doing things because you know they’re right, even if you don’t feel like doing them, there’s much more value if what you do on the outside matches up with what you think and feel on the inside.  When they match up, you’ll feel better about what you’re doing, others will feel better about what you’re doing, and God will be honored by what you’re doing.

As God said to Samuel when Samuel saw a man that he thought God would choose to be as the king of Israel:  

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7-8).

Ask God to renew your heart and mind this week.  Ask Him to reveal anything within you that is improperly motivated, or that seeks for anything other than the good of others and the glory of God.  Then, if God reveals anything to you that needs to be changed internally, ask Him for help to know how to change it.  Ask Him to remake you from the inside out.  Give Him permission to do that work inside you, whatever it takes.  

Then, when God is done remaking you on the inside, you’ll be able to stand up, move forward, and do what’s right.  No longer bound by the thoughts that were raging inside you, you’ll finally be free to live the life you were called to live!

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for caring about what goes on inside us—our thoughts and feelings—just as much as you care about what we do on the outside. Thank You for the reminder that both are real, and both are really important to You.  Fill our minds and hearts with Your will for our lives and help us to believe and act on Your will.  We pray that doing so will make an tremendous difference to us and to those around us in the weeks and months and years ahead.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

P.S. I met a great band at a music festival this month and thought you might like to listen to one of their songs, which they graciously shared with me so you could listen to in its entirety for free at the link below.  The band is called Fue, and the song is called “Abide in Love,” based on the Song of Solomon.  Here’s the link to the song, and the link to their website below that:
http://streams.theranch.org/abide-in-love.mp3
http://fueband.com/fr_news.cfm

 
Loving Thoughts

P.P.S. Over a thousand people have downloaded our free eBook that we offered last week called “Loving Thoughts,” a book of thoughts and quotes for those who are passing from this life to the next and those who love them.  Many have also ordered copies of this book in paperback for themselves and as gifts for those they love.  I’ve even had two people pass away this week who were close to us and have given them copies of this book as they grieve their losses.  It’s a very small book, but the thoughts will help to give you a clear perspective on what it means when a Christian passes away.  If you’d like a copy, you can download the free eBook yourself by visiting the link below, or you I’d be glad to send you a beautiful 24-page paperback for a donation of any size to our ministry.  Someone yesterday just ordered 10 copies to give out to friends and family, and you’re welcome to do the same.  Your donations help us with the cost of printing and shipping, plus they help us to continue to create resources like these in the future, so thanks so much in advance.  Here are the links to download or request a copy:
To download the free eBook version, please visit:
http://www.thisdaysthought.org/Downloads.423.0.html
To make a donation and get the paperback, please visit:
http://theranch.org/Get-A-Book.359.0.html
 
Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 2:7-29What was the problem that Paul was addressing with the Jews in this passage?
2.  What did Paul mean when he said that “circumcision is circumcision of the heart”?  And how does that take place?
3.  In what ways can our thoughts and feelings differ from our actions?  And in what ways are they related?
4. Are there any areas in your life where your thoughts and feelings are disconnected from your actions?  What might you do this week to help them line up more closely?
 
To read more from this series, please visit:
 
To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
 
To make a donation of any size and get a book as our way of saying thanks, please visit:
 
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Invite your friends!  We’d love to have them study along with us–and you!  Just forward this email and encourage them to sign up for themselves at the link below.
 

Today’s Sermon From The Ranch – Listening To Your Conscience

(Greg of This Day’s Thought and I have just finished putting together a book of thoughts and quotes for those were are facing the end of their lives here on earth.  We know that it’s often hard to know what to say to people at times like these, so we’ve pulled together these thoughts from quotes in the Bible and from Christians throughout the ages.  It’s called, “Loving Thoughts,” and even though it’s only 24 pages long, it contains a selection of quotes that have been of immense value to me and to those I love as I’ve walked with them as they’ve passed from this life to the next.  I’d be glad to send you an eBook version for free if you’ll just send me your email address, or if you’d like a beautiful paperback copy to give you to your family or friends, I’d be glad to send you one (or several) for a donation of any size to our ministry this month.  Just send me an email at eric@theranch.org for the free eBook version, or use the link below to make a donation and get the paperback.  Get the paperback  Thanks!) 
 

The Ranch: A Place of Healing and Restoration

Listening To Your Conscience

Lesson 5 from
Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
www.theranch.org
 

 
When Steve Jobs finished designing the first Macintosh computer, he did something special:  he asked everyone who helped him design that first revolutionary machine to sign a large piece of paper.  He then took that paper and turned it into an engraving template.  When those first Macs finally rolled off the assembly line, the names of their creators were engraved inside the case of every one.
 
Signatures inside the MacYou couldn’t see the signatures from the outside—and most people never even knew they existed on the inside because few people had any reason to open up a computer in those days.  But if you opened one up and looked deep inside, you’d see them—the signatures of their creators, including “steven jobs.”
 
But Steve Jobs wasn’t the first one to sign his creation on the inside.  God did it when He created you, too.  He’s written His name deep inside you.  And if you take a closer look, you’ll find that it’s not just His name that’s written there, but also His laws—His words of instruction to help you live the fullest life possible.
 
As God said in the book of Hebrews:
 
“I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. 
I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Hebrews 8:10b).
 
The Apostle Paul echoes these thoughts in his letter to the Romans, saying that your conscience “bears witness” to the fact that God has written the requirements of His laws upon your heart.
 
“Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them” (Romans 2:14-15).
 
Your conscience has been implanted in your mind by God.  It helps you to consider your options and the outcomes of your actions.  It helps you to regulate your passions and desires, comparing them to God’s passions and desires for you.  When your passions and desires are different than God’s, your conscience kicks in to let you know that something is amiss and needs to be addressed.
 
But your conscience is a warning indicator only.  You can override it.  You can ignore it.  You still have free will.  But God has put your conscience within you to help you make the decisions you make, if you choose to listen to it.  It’s a warning indicator to let you know you’d better check something out before proceeding.
 
How do you check it out?  Compare what you’re wanting to do with God’s Word. 
 
Even though God has written His Word on your heart, sometimes you can’t read the writing so clearly.  Your vision gets blurred by your own thoughts and desires.
 
That’s why God has also given you His Word in black and white—on the pages of the Bible—so you can read it clearly.  That’s why He’s given you His Word in the flesh—in the form of His Son Jesus—so you can hear it clearly from His lips.  That’s why He’s given you His Holy Spirit—which Jesus said He would send to His followers after He was gone—to remind you of all the things He has already spoken to you.
 
I can think of times in my own life—and maybe you can think of times in yours—when I’ve done some things that felt so “right” on one level, but on another level felt so “wrong.”   At those times when I’ve ignored the warning lights and overridden them, I ended up in places that God never wanted me to go.
 
But at those times when I have taken notice of God’s warning lights and decided to check out what I was doing and compare it to what God wanted me to do according to His Word, I’ve found that it’s way better to do what’s right—even if it means laying down some things that I personally desire.  Whenever I’ve done that, I’ve found that God’s plans for me are so much better than the plans I had in mind, giving me peace of mind and life abundant.  As someone has wisely said:
 
A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.
 
If you’d like to sleep on a soft pillow tonight, I’d encourage you to listen to your conscience.  If there’s something on your heart or mind that has turned on the warning lights, check it out.  
 
Take a look in God’s Word, as written on the pages of the Bible in black and white, and compare what you’re doing with what God wants you to do.  If they don’t match up, a change is in order.  Just thank God for His warning light and do what’s right, whatever it takes.  As Paul said:
 
“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:13).
 
As I was thinking about the idea of Steve Jobs engraving his name inside his computers—and God engraving His name upon your heart—I was inspired to write a haiku for you from God.    A haiku is a short Japanese poem that doesn’t usually rhyme but is often made up of just 17 syllables—five in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.
 
So here’s my haiku, from God to you:
 
my name is written
upon your heart awaiting
…rediscovery
 
God loves you so much that He’s taken the time to write His name on your heart.  He’s written His instructions for you there, too, to help you live the fullest life possible.  
 
If you’d like to renew your mind today, listen to your conscience.  Check out what it’s saying and compare it to God’s Word.  Listen to His Son.  Obey His Holy Spirit.  If you do these things, you’ll live!  If you don’t, you risk losing everything, even those things you love the most.  
 
Listen to your conscience—and live!
 
Will you pray with me?
 
Father, thank You for writing Your Words on our hearts, and thank You for giving us a conscience to help us know when what we’re doing is different from what You want us to do.  Help us to listen to You, to follow Your Words, and to live the life that You’ve created us to live.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit to help us to stop doing anything that doesn’t bring glory and honor to You, and to start doing those things that do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
Loving Thoughts

P.S. As I mentioned above, Greg Potzer and I have just finished putting together a book of thoughts and quotes for those were are facing the end of their lives here on earth.  We know that it’s often hard to know what to say to people at times like these, so we’ve pulled together these thoughts from quotes in the Bible and from Christians throughout the ages.  It’s called, “Loving Thoughts,” and even though it’s only 24 pages long, it contains a selection of quotes that have been of immense value to me and to those I love as I’ve walked with them as they’ve passed from this life to the next.  I’d be glad to send you an eBook version for free if you’ll just send me your email address, or if you’d like a beautiful paperback copy to give you to your family or friends, I’d be glad to send you one (or several) for a donation of any size to our ministry this month.  Just send me an email at eric@theranch.org for the free eBook version, or use the link below to make a donation and get the paperback.
 
Questions for Reflection
1.  Read Romans 2:1-16.  Can you remember a time when your conscience warned you that something you were doing was amiss?  What were the results when you either did or didn’t do what you’re conscience warned you about?
2.  Read Hebrews 8:7-13.  While some people might think that their consciences are formed based solely on the conditions in which they were raised, what does this passage in Hebrews and the above passage in Romans suggest is the true basis for your conscience?
3.  What reason does Paul give for God being so kind, tolerant and patient towards us in Romans 2:4?
4. After reflecting on today’s message, are there any changes you’d like to make in your own life, or warning indicators that you need to check out according to God’s Word?
 
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