Consider the Source

Imagine David wilting under a bush or slumped in a cave, pouring out his feelings in Psalm 54, begging the Lord for help. The first three verses are a prayer with emphasis on the enemy. The spotlight then turns to the composer’s divine defender as the next two verses form a picture. The last two verses are words of praise as David focuses on his own history with God.

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People Problems

For many years, I opened the daily newspaper looking forward to another dose of wisdom from the mind of Charles Schulz, the creator of the comic strip “Peanuts.” In one particular scene, Lucy chides her little brother Linus, “You a doctor! HA! That’s a big laugh! You could never be a doctor! You know why? Because you don’t love mankind, that’s why!”

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Going It Alone

Psalm 13 begins where the despondent person spends most of his or her time: flat on the ground, crushed under the weight of sorrow. In the first section of the song, we see . . . David on His Face. How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day?

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God’s Shield against Discouragement

Sometimes we suffer discouragement because of difficult circumstances caused by no one in particular: natural disasters, disease, economic downturns, injury. Frequently, however, we suffer because enemies cause us harm and refuse to stop. That was David’s lament in Psalm 5. He knew discouragement can easily escalate into resentment, bitterness, hatred, and finally retaliation.

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Leadership

If we hope to demonstrate the level of excellence modeled by Jesus Christ, then we’ll have to come to terms with the kingdom we are going to serve: the eternal kingdom our Lord represented and told us to seek (Matt. 6:23) or the temporal kingdom of today. Let’s pause long enough to understand what I’m referring to when I mention the kingdom. It’s one of those terms we like to use but seldom define.

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Determination

When Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God,” the very word “seek” implies a strong-minded pursuit. J. B. Phillips paraphrases the idea with “set your heart on.” The Amplified Bible says, “Aim at and strive after.” The Greek text of Matthew’s Gospel states a continual command: “Keep on continually seeking . . . .” The thought is determination, which I define as “deciding to hang tough, regardless.”

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Optimism

Vision—the one essential ingredient for being an original in a day of copies—gets lost, overwhelmed by the odds. Too bad! We start focusing on the trouble. Then we start comparing the odds. The result is predictable: We become intimidated and wind up defeated. What is your challenge? Which giants make you feel like a grasshopper when you face them?

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Flexibility

Are you open to change? People who make a difference can be stretched, pulled, pushed, and changed. You heard it from me: traditionalism is an old dragon, bad about squeezing the very life out of its victims. So never stop fighting it. Let’s be careful to identify the right opponent. It isn’t tradition per se; it’s traditionalism. I’m not trying to be petty, only accurate.

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Priorities

Life is a lot like a coin; you can spend it any way you wish, but you can spend it only once. Choosing one thing over all the rest throughout life is a difficult thing to do. This is especially true when the choices are so many and the possibilities are so close. To be completely truthful with you, however, we aren’t left with numerous possibilities.

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Overcoming Hypocrisy

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” (Matthew 6:1 MSG) Lord God, we thank You for the model of Jesus Christ our Savior who, when He walked this earth, dripped with authenticity.

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