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Afflicted

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Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. … This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ. —Malcom Muggeridge

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:67-68, NIV)

We can stand affliction better than we can stand prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God. —Dwight L Moody

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Psalm 119:71-72, NIV)

Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls. — C.H. Spurgeon

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV)


Real

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Here is a weak spot today. For all our religious wheels within wheels, we have no time for the cultivation of our souls, no time to know Christ better. How does He become more real? … He makes Himself real to the obedient disciple. And the obedient disciple is daily a better Christian than he was the day before.

                                                                            — Vance Havner

You must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18, NLT)


Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. (John 14:21, ESV)

I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, … I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection. (Philippians 3:8-10, NIV)

Walking by the Spirit is a twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week lifestyle.

                                                            — Jim Cymbala


Foxes

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Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming! (Song of Songs, 2:15, NLT)

You will find in your life that generally “the little foxes spoil the vines,” not the major storms. People fall away from following Christ, not because of some cataclysmic circumstance, but rather a series of small events. — Walter Henrichsen

Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Luke 16:10-13, NIV)

You and I live in little moments, and if God doesn’t rule our little moments and doesn’t work to re-create us in the middle of them, then there is no hope for us. — Paul David Tripp

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. (James 4:7-10, MSG)


Alphabet

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A Christian bears the name of Christ, and his loyalty to Christ includes and glorifies all other relationships; Christ does not merely come first, He is Alpha and Omega, and includes the alphabet of all our interests and affections.

                                                                                — Vance Havner

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:20-22, NLT)

We’re too Christian to enjoy sin and too sinful to enjoy Christ. We’ve got just enough Jesus to be informed, but not enough to be transformed. We want everything God has to offer without giving anything up. We want to buy in without selling out. We’re afraid that if we don’t hold out on God, we’ll miss out on what this life has to offer. It’s a lie. It’s the same lie the serpent told Adam and Eve in the garden. God is not holding out on you. — Mark Batterson

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23, NLT)


Drama

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God will not be contained by any of our expectations, least of all those that attempt to domesticate his terrifying creativity. Beneath the thin veneer of our decent and orderly routines there is probably more drama than we want to see. — M. Craig Barnes

Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” (Luke 19:5-7, NIV)

They arrived at Jerusalem. Immediately on entering the Temple Jesus started throwing out everyone who had set up shop there, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of the bankers and the stalls of the pigeon merchants. He didn’t let anyone even carry a basket through the Temple. And then he taught them, quoting this text: “My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.” (Mark 11:15-17, MSG)

Once we have seen Him in a stable, we can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of men. ― Frederick Buechner

May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:18-19, NLT)


Fellowship

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God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9, NIV)

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. (Philippians 2:1-2, NLT)

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. … That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:7, 10, KJV)

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. (Acts 2:42, NLT)

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7, NIV)


Narrow

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In the domain of the mind, it is the man who angles in narrow waters who has the wealthiest haul. — John Henry Jowett

Jesus replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.” (Luke 13:24, NLT)

The door is so narrow that we can’t hold onto anything and still make it through. Not our trophies and achievements. Not our relationships. Not even our dreams. We have to drop them all if we’re going to fit through the door called salvation. Yet that is just one of the ways Jesus leads us to hope. None of those things we are holding will save us. Only Jesus, and we have to come to him empty-handed. — M. Craig Barnes

Jesus said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27, NLT)