How about you?  Would you dare trust God in your pain?  Would you believe that without pain, there is no eternal gain?  Would you choose to know that all pain here is light and momentary in comparison to the glory and beauty of what’s yet to come?

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AuthorCasey Shannon
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This reality can be yours.  You may be right around the corner from an unexpected phone call or text that will forever change your life.  You may be a few moments away from an encouraging word that will keep you moving forward.  You may be within a day of meeting someone who will offer you an opportunity that gives you hope.  You may be a minute away from God doing an incredible miracle for you.

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Leave vengeance to God.  He does it better than you do.  Your retaliation will only increase future hostilities.  It will have no end.  Leave it to God.  He loves justice.  It’s an important part of his character.  It will happen.  Have faith he will do it.  

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AuthorCasey Shannon

What else have I learned about people?  They love to tear you down to build themselves up.  Many people are inherently insecure.  If they can criticize you, it makes them feel more important.  That’s why they post only positive comments and photos about their lives on social media.  They want you to think all is fine and be envious.  They’ll then forever critique you to make themselves look good.

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Please, no matter what you are going through, choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).  Seek Jesus’ love for you.  He didn’t come to condemn you, but to love you (John 3:17).  He came from heaven to earth to give you abundant life, not death (John 10:10).

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Also, please don’t forget this truth: Jesus formed his church to be a community of hurting people seeking hope together.  Find a good one today.  Find a Bible study group you can join.  Though you are saved by grace alone, you were never intended to live the Christian life alone. 

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AuthorCasey Shannon

No matter what your feelings may say to you, you are who you are because of who the Father in heaven says you are.  That’s all that counts.  His voice is the only one that matters.  That’s all you need to know.  And if you believe this fact (and not your feelings), life takes on new focus and purpose.  You’ll behave accordingly---based on your true identity---not your feelings.

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Don’t let your feelings define you.  You are not what you feel!  You are so much more.  Let God define you.  You are his child.  He loves you deeply.  He knows you by name---even before this world was ever created!  There is something in this world only you can accomplish.  And as long as the sun comes up in the morning, there’s always hope

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AuthorCasey Shannon

A new dawn offers new hope.  A new day gives a fresh start.  Yesterday has happened.  We can’t change it.  But we can learn from it.  Now we face a new day with encouragement and hope.  We can’t alter the past.  But we can learn from it and face a better future with hope.

As long as the sun comes up in the morning, there is always hope.

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Here is another reason to choose life over death: There are people only you can love at this moment in human history.  Unless you love them, right now, in your special way, with your unique touch, at this specific moment, they will not be loved.  It’s part of your call on earth.  It’s an important reason for why you exist at this moment on earth.

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AuthorCasey Shannon

When God created you, there were good works he prepared for only you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  No one else in the entire world can do them!  No one else throughout all human history can do them!  These good works are solely God’s assignment for you to do.  If you don’t do them, they don’t get done.  

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Our names are tattooed on God’s hands (Isaiah 49:16).  He can’t ever forget them.  In Isaiah 49:15, God asks if it’s ever possible for him to forget us?  He compares it to a mother’s inability to ever forget a child’s name.  Is this possible?

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AuthorCasey Shannon

Grab hold of this truth: At some point in the expanse of eternity, before and beyond the creation of space and time, God loved you.  Think more deeply about this truth: Before the world was ever created, God chose to love you (Ephesians 1:4).  

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AuthorCasey Shannon

When did the Christian faith jettison the balance between God’s grace and truth?  When did we forget the intersection on the cross of God’s holiness/justice and his love/forgiveness?  God does love us, but never at the expense of truth.  

A leadership guru once astutely said, “People don’t do what you expect.  They do what you inspect.”  He is correct.  Left to ourselves, people are bent to do what we want to do, not what is expected of us to do.

The same is true with God.  Left to ourselves, we are bent toward reflecting that famous verse in Judges: “And everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).  This verse was stated during Israel’s darkest days.  There was no godly leadership and moral direction.  No nation can continue to stand when this statement becomes the highest virtue of the land.

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AuthorCasey Shannon

The Post (Week 17: Proverbs 23-29)  

We are wrapping up Proverbs this week, so I wanted to end the way Proverbs does, with the focus on a godly woman.

Right away, you can sense God’s affirming respect as the writer introduces this woman as an excellent wife. She is rare, for he asks, “who can find” one with such magnificent qualities. Her relationship with her husband is wonderful. Her husband has full confidence in her for she lacks nothing in her character.

She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life, (vs. 11-12). Her children respect and love her, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."(Vs. 28-29).

She is faithful with the gifts she has been given, she works with her hands, considers a field and earns a wage, plants a vineyard and is deeply committed to her home and family.

She is also compassionate and secure. Within the heart of this mother is deep character. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." (Vs. 25-26,29)

On top of all this, she walks with God. She holds Him in the highest regard and maintains a close relationship with the One who gave her life, health, personality, determination, and her creativity. She fears the Lord, and as we started the Proverbs four weeks ago with this thought, that is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Vs 30-31)

In the end, she is the praise of her children and husband alike. And what is her man like? Even though Proverbs does not places all verses on a godly man’s character in one place as it does with the woman here, the parallels are the same.

Let me end with a temptation we could fall into with this Proverb section. These amazing character traits could become laws to follow and we could think the only way to keep a relationship with God is to keep these laws as well. The key to the Proverbs 31 woman and man is to submit to God as king and let Him work these beautiful characteristics in you. In other words, don’t live this way to be loved, let the Lord reveal His true love to you, and as a result live this kind of life.

Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 17)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

Have you ever wondered what people write in their journals? One popular discipline that many Christians have in their time with God is journaling…but what does that mean? It may mean writing out prayers, or processing emotions through writing, but you can also use your journal to take notes about what you are reading in your Bible Study.

I think it’s funny how I often believe that somehow I will remember what I’m learning without writing it down and taking notes. For years I wouldn’t take the time to write out my thoughts about the chapters I was reading because I had a notion God would somehow make it stick since it was from Him. Now I call that a shortcut and laziness on my part.

The truth is, just like taking notes on your science reading so that you remember what you read, there’s an appropriate time for taking notes on the Bible.

One way you can take notes is to spend time summarizing what you have read. In other words, when you get done with a book of the Bible put it all together.

Here are a few helpful tips from Howard Hendricks in “Living by the Book.”

• While you are studying the book, assign titles to paragraphs or chapters. Be creative and make them your own, not just the one’s already written in the Bible you are using. This will help you retain your insights in neat packages.

• Create a chart using all these titles you have been writing. The book of Proverbs is a great place to try this because there are several big sweeping ideas. Focus on topics like the fool and the wise person. You can look the use of the tongue or care for the poor. Keep the charts simple. You can always add more detail later when you study the book again. The challenge is to clear away clutter. Just write the big ideas, the key characters to start with.

I will give you a couple more tips in this area next week.

Notes from David’s Journal

In these chapters of Proverbs, many different practical principles for life show themselves. As you read them, search for these themes:

-In chapter 22: debt, giving to the poor, being a negative person, laziness
-in chapter 23: our thought life, parenting, personal responsibility
-in chapter 24: truth-telling, family, revenge and retaliation
-in chapter 25: humility, dealing with life’s “messes,” patience
-in chapter 26: meddling, excuses, gossiping
-in chapter 27: daily living, honoring parents, guarding your heart
-in chapter 28: poor, obedience to the Law of God, leadership
-in chapter 29: a teachable heart, parental discipline, pride

Who says the Bible isn’t practical for our every day lives?

I never will.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Thomas Edison once said, “What man’s mind can create, man’s character can control.”

He is correct.  If your mind can conceive a dream, you character should be able to set the proper boundaries around the dream to allow it to happen.

A dream can become a swamp.  Without boundaries, you can try anything and everything to make the dream come true.  Before you know it, your dream can become muddled in mediocrity with no real focus.

But when your dream is conceived, and you put character boundaries around it, your dream will be like a slow, steady, and powerful river floating toward its destiny.  Nothing can keep it from succeeding.  Nothing can stop it. If a river faces a barrier, it either goes through it or around it.  So will your dream.

So dream a great dream.  But just make sure it has great character boundaries focusing it.

Then success will occur.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Here is a success formula that we all need.

For life to have meaning we must first have a dream.  We need something that makes us get up in the morning.  It drives us.  It impassions us.  We can’t get it out of our minds.  We know it’s why we were created.  No dreams is meaninglessness.

But there’s a necessary second step as well.  The dream must have perseverance.  It must have a relentless desire to succeed.  It must be like a dog with teeth on a leather shoe.  It won’t let go no matter what.

So if you want to be successful in life, first find your dream.  Discover what makes your heart beat more quickly than anything else in the world.

Second, commit to that dream.  Go for it.  And when those difficult times come, you refuse to give up.  You keep moving forward until the dream is yours.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

The Post (Week 16: Proverbs 16-22) 

See if you can figure out the commonality of the following verses in our readings this week.

“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)

“In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord, it will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)

“The King’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)

Do you see the common thread as the Sovereignty of God? Even though man thinks he runs the show, God is ultimately the one in control.

Notice the balance of these two thoughts in Proverbs. Human beings are responsible for what they choose and what they do. God gives us the steering wheel and calls us to be faithful with it. Proverbs gives us principles to guide our lives and our interactions with others in wisdom. But, much of the time, we live our life as if we deserve all credit too. An organization stays in business through tough times and we give the CEO a big raise. A degree is earned and we applaud the graduates. We forget that if a good story has been told, God is the one that ultimately deserves the praise.

What are some practice aspects of this truth? When we are in tough times and begin to think we are alone and that everything depends on us that is never the truth. The Holy Spirit is always at work whether we notice or not. And he is in control. When our children make decisions that we are saddened by, we know that God is still telling a good story and can use all things for good. Even the things we would never have planned.

Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 16)

Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It will be building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over last week to get the whole picture.

Simple Question and Comparison:

One of the ways Proverbs gets us thinking is by using rhetorical questions. If I ask you a question, it more or less forces you to find the answer. A question is one of the most powerful tools of communication. You can learn a lot about what you really believe when you let God’s questions penetrate your soul.

Look at Proverbs 17:6 from this weeks reading: “Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?”

This implies that using money in ways that don’t make you wise is so unprofitable that you would be better off without money. This proverbs is tying two ideas that we might not have thought to put together - wisdom and money.

Another way Proverbs gets to our heart is through comparison. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)

Or this one, “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1)

Or this one, “Better to live on a corner of the roof, than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” (Proverbs 21:9)

These proverbs do a great job of showing value judgment on what we should invest our lives in. They also assess how a fool would live and show that it will end in disaster.

What other questions and comparisons jump out at you in this weeks readings?

Notes from David’s Journal

As I read and reread Proverbs, I’m continually struck by how my heart is convicted when I read these verses. When Solomon first became king, God gave him the privilege of asking for one thing to rule over the people. He disdained power, control, money and influence. Instead, he asked for wisdom. These pithy proverbs drip with wisdom.

In these chapters, you will discover wisdom about our words, thought life, parenting and generosity. I can’t possibly cover them all. But let me tell you what I did. With each proverb I wrote by the side its basic message in one word. Do the same. Then, in the future, when you’re confronted with a tough decision and need wisdom, go back to your margins and look for what each proverb is saying. You’ll then easily find the subject matter. And you just may find what God wants you to know as you’re making this decision.

God still speaks to us today and one of the major ways He does so is through His Word. He is speaking. Are we willing to seek and listen? To God be the glory!

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick

Maybe this way to achieve more hope in your life is too simple.  But I’m going to give it to you any way today.  Here it is.

Sleep.  Your body was created for sleep.  Most people need seven to nine hours of rest every day.  For teens and kids even more is needed.  Their bodies are growing at huge rates and they need even more sleep than we do as adults.  

Lack of sleep can inhibit productivity and trigger anxiety.  If not properly addressed, it can cause serious healthy consequences.  Indeed, amazingly, a lot of healing is done while the body is at rest.  It’s God’s way of giving us an anesthesia so he can do some of his best healing work.

How are you doing on the sleep front?  Just remember: a lack of sleep can lead to a lack of hope.

And all of us need hope to get moving forward in life.

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AuthorDavid_Chadwick