"Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still." (Psalm 4:4)

I used to hate mornings. For some people, breaking up is hard to do- but for me...waking up is hard to do. It still is difficult to get up, but lately I've come across a little technique that has helped me tremendously in my spiritual life. It's called animal training, but it's not what you think. True, I do feed my dog in the morning - but I'm talking about something completely different. I actually got the idea from C.S. Lewis:

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

Get it? The idea here is to contemplate your first thoughts when you are in that semi-conscious place. All those wild 'animals' are probably things that God wants you to deal with in the strength of His might. If you don't stop them through the power of prayer, they will stampede through your day like a crash of rhinos.

Here is a list of animal training questions/answers to help you tame your tumultuous thoughts:

1. Am I troubled and/or worried about something?

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)

2. Is there some responsibility you have been blowing off that is bothering you?

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

3. Is there a goal you've been planning on starting but keep putting off?

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

4. Is there an unhealthy relationship you are in and you know you need to get out?

Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? (II Corinthians 6:14)

5. Is there a destructive habit or sin that you feel convicted about?

Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)

6. Is there someone you need to forgive?

"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)

Remember that if God takes your first thoughts in the morning, He'll most likely take first place the rest of your day. So animal train your slumberous speculations and subdue them with the Spirit of God...your life will never be the same!

adapted from: http://www.dare2share.org/devotions/the-voices-in-my-head/#sthash.XMx5SHM4.dpbs
Here is some great advice to stay happy and successful!
written by Amy Wong

Make the most of chance opportunities. 
Strike up conversations with strangers. Talk to the friendly-looking person who’s standing on line behind you or sitting next to you on the bus or whose locker is in the same row as yours at the gym. You never know what might develop out of a simple chat—a job contact, a friendship, a romance.

Be open to new experiences. 

On personality tests, lucky people score higher on openness, meaning they prefer variety and novelty in their lives and tend to be unconventional. To develop more openness, Make a list of six things you’ve never done but want to try. Number them 1 to 6. Roll a die. Whatever number comes up, that’s the experience you try.

Expect good things to happen. 

When you go into a situation expecting a positive outcome, that’s what you’ll get. Do you have an important event coming up? Visualize success first. Sit in a quiet place. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and relax. Imagine the situation in as much detail as possible—the setting, sights, sounds and smells. Picture the other people and what they might say. Think about what you would say and do. Visualize yourself achieving the outcome you desire. Then go out and do it.

Turn bad luck into good. 

When something negative happens, unlucky people tend to have a defeatist attitude and give up. Lucky people face adversity too. The difference is, they see the positive side of it. They look at obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow, to do something different, something better. The next time you run into a roadblock, look at it not as a dead end but a detour. How else can you reach your goal? Explore the possibilities and you’ll make your own good luck!

Dear God, Please help me to stay open and loving and stay positive in my life. I know that with you, nothing is impossible. Amen
By Jack Zavada

Discovering Why We Can't Love Like Jesus
All of us want to love like Jesus. We want to be generous, forgiving, and compassionate enough to love people unconditionally. But no matter how hard we try, it just doesn't work. Our humanness gets in the way. Jesus was human too, but he was also God incarnate. He was able to see the people he created in a way that we can't. He personified love. In fact, the Apostle John said, "God is love..." (1 John 4:16, ESV)

You and I are not love. We can love, but we can't do it perfectly. We see others' faults and stubbornness. When we remember the slights they have done to us, a small part of us can't forgive. We refuse to make ourselves as vulnerable as Jesus did because we know we'll get hurt again. We love and at the same time we hold back. Yet Jesus tells us to love as he did: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:34, ESV)

Love Like Jesus Through Abiding
We don't get very far before we learn the Christian life is impossible. Jesus gave us the key, however: "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27, ESV)
We can't love like Jesus on our own. In fact, we can't do anything in the Christian life on our own. When we see a selfless Christian saint who can love like Jesus, we can be sure that person is abiding in Christ and he in her. What would be too hard on our own, we can do through this act of abiding. We continue to abide by reading the Bible, praying, and attending church with other believers. In this way our trust in God is built up. As we abide in Jesus, we learn to know him better and trust him more. Cautiously, we reach out to others. We love them. The greater our trust in Christ, the greater our compassion will be.

PRAYER: Dear God, This is a lifelong challenge. When we are rebuffed, we have the choice to draw back or give our hurt to You and try again. Abiding in You is what matters.  Help me live that truth, so that i can begin to love like You. Amen.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13

It seems to be popular in both Christian and non-Christian circles to "judge not." Avoiding judging others is the politically correct thing to do. Yet 1 Corinthians 5 makes it clear that judgment of sin needs to be done in the church. But there are two things that we need to consider in the above passage of Scripture.Sin Inside the Church vs. Sin OutsideFirst of all, there is a difference in how we are to relate to other Christians (as well as those who claim to be Christians but may not be), and how we relate to those who are not part of the body of Christ. We would have to leave this world if we were to avoid sinful people altogether!But what about believers who are openly participating in known sin? According to Paul, we are not to even eat with them, and are in fact to put them out of the church. Doesn't sound very politically correct, does it? And yet it is what the Scripture says!

No Tolerance Policy

The sobering reality of the passage in 1 Corinthians is that sin is serious. It is not something that should be tolerated among Christians - including each of us.Put yourself in the place of someone who needs church discipline. Think about the seriousness of the sin in your life, and come to grips with the fact that continuing in it is not an option. Are there secret sins you are harboring? Are you guilty of ongoing behaviors mentioned in the passage above such as sexual immorality, covetousness and drunkenness? If so, repent! For both God and the church can, and in fact must, judge ongoing, unrepentant sin.

The good news is, there is g
race, peace, forgiveness, and restoration to those who turn from their sins.

what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.
What Really Matters
It is so easy to get caught up in externals, but that isn't what we need to focus on. It's more important to concentrate on what God commands us to do, than it is to worry about outward appearances. Some people might think that it is burdensome to keep God's commandments, but it is actually quite freeing to get to the place where you focus on pleasing God rather than worrying about the opinions of man.I remember a time in life when a particular couple had very strong opinions about the ministry the Lord had called my husband and me to. They didn't approve of our methods, and of other things such as where we lived. The underlying sense of criticism and disapproval was devastating. I walked through a time of hurt and bitterness because of it. But there was great freedom when God brought me around to the place of simply walking in obedience to Him, in spite of the opinions of others.

Pleasing God Not Man

Obviously, there are times when the opinions of others are spot on with the plan of God for our lives, so we should be open to counsel from godly men and women. But in the midst of that, we need to always remember that it is most important to do what God wants, which may not necessarily be what people expect of us. We all like to look good and have the approval of others, but looking good isn't nearly as important as walking in simple obedience to the Lord.

God, please help me to focus on You and have my actions please you and not man. Free me from the chains of wanting to please everyone and be with me when i need you. amen
1 Corinthians 1:25-29 

I Just Can't Do It!
`"I just can't do it." Have you ever spoken those words when faced with a task that seems too great? I have! God may have put it on your heart to do great things but the voice that clamors for your attention says that you'll fail. Often the thing that God lays out for us to do is bigger than we are.

Our Weakness Reveals God's Strength 
 The good news is, it isn't at all about our goodness, strength, or wisdom. In fact, the opposite is true. God chooses those who are inadequate in and of themselves so that the ultimate glory goes to him. You see, when we serve out of our weakness and God's strength, it is obvious to everyone that the power of the Holy Spirit and not the strength or wisdom of man has accomplished great things.
Dependence on God 
  Each day as you go about your business, acknowledge that you can't do it, but God can. Put your dependence completely on God for his strength, wisdom and goodness - not your own. Throw yourself into the arms of Jesus and ask him to carry you as you do the work he has called you to do. As you begin to see success, don't forget that it is God who strengthens you, provides the ability for you to do the work, gives you favor, and opens doors. It isn't about you, but about the God who deserves all the honor and glory. He is the One who should be acknowledged in the midst of "your" success.

PRAYER: Please God, strengthen me and work in my life. You help me everyday and i depend you in all aspects of my life. Thank you for always being there and embrace me as your imperfect child. Amen

THOT: Thank God in times of joy and lean on him on times of troubles.
Hebrews 11: 1-16

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  -Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Our 14-year-old son has big feet. When shod in his chunky, padded basketball boots, his feet seem enormous. Unfortunately, the rest of him hasn't yet caught up with his feet, and as a basketball player he is distressed by this. He wants to be at least 6' 4"! Friends tell us that the big feet are a good sign, that one day he will grow into his feet.

Our life as Christians is often like that. Many promises in scripture we have yet to "grow into." Until that happens, we take them on faith. The Bible speaks of our salvation in Christ as being signed and sealed but not yet delivered in full. The Old Testament talks glowingly of all the good things that will follow godly people, yet we see the godly suffer the same as everyone else.

But we see that scripture's promises are true when we look at them in the light of eternity--when all wrongs will be righted and God will make everything new. In the meantime, God has given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of these things. (See 2 Cor. 1:22.) So we "live by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7, NIV)--knowing that our God will fulfill the promise of salvation.  

~Colette Willliams (South Australia, Australia)

Lord, give us the grace to trust your promises and not what we see or don't see. Amen.

Regardless of what we see, God is working to fulfill scripture's promise.

Psalm 95:1-9

When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent.
-Exodus 33:10 (NRSV)

The music in worship swelled as our voices joined in praising God. Suddenly the little boy in front of us began clapping along with us, sending crumbs from his cookies flying all around us. His mother seemed embarrassed, but my heart was filled with wonder. Do I practice my faith with childlike abandon? Do I drop everything at a moment's notice to worship the Lord?

I thought of Israel traveling in the desert. When a pillar of cloud appeared outside the tent of meeting, they would drop everything and worship God. They recognized God's presence daily. But their journey was long and hard, and over many years their devotion wavered.

In the midst of my daily struggles and difficulties, I often forget that my highest purpose is to worship God. When I worship, I am connecting with my Creator in a fellowship that renews and refreshes me for what lies ahead. In such moments, I feel God's presence; I delight in God, and God delights in me.

Seeing that young boy, I began praying that God would give me joy and enthusiasm in my worship. That remains my prayer.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Missouri, USA)

O Lord, help us to worship you in every moment of every day. Amen.

If we pay attention, moments in every day will call us to worship.


READ: Colossians 3:12-17

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
-Matthew 6:12 (NRSV)

When we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Jesus knew that forgiving those who hurt us is difficult; but his teaching that immediately follows the Lord's Prayer reminds us that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. When Peter asked Jesus about the number of times we must forgive, Jesus used the figure "seventy times seven," implying that we are to place no limits on forgiving others.

At times we may feel resentful and unwilling to forgive. We may even blame God for allowing painful experiences. We question why a loving God would allow suffering. We want to know why good people suffer while the wicked escape suffering and even flourish. There are no easy answers. Indeed, it is a mystery beyond our understanding that God allowed Jesus to suffer and die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. If Jesus could die that terrible death for us, surely we can forgive the wrongs of others.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian message -- God's forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of one another. This is the source of our hope for peace in the world. What the world needs is not retaliation but compassion.
 Anne Rasmussen (Somerset, England)

Dear God, help us to forgive, even when it seems beyond our power to do so, as we pray, Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. Amen.

God can help us to forgive even if reconciliation is not possible.