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Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year and A New Success

It is a new year, and I want to be successful in living the life He has called me to live. But there are things that are necessary for me—things that I need to strengthen in my life and things I need to cast out. I must become disciplined. “Strip down, start running—and never quit!” the writer to Hebrews declares, “ No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message).

I want to make a difference in the lives of other people. I want others to discover the love of Christ that will change their lives. But I must allow Him to be successful in my life before I can be successful in helping others. The secret of any success I find is His success in me. It is how He succeeds in me, and what He is able to accomplish in and through me. I only discover success through surrender of my will to His will for my life. I only discover His power when I realize that my power is not really able to achieve anything.

Just think about it! Power to conquer my failures! Power to conquer my demons! Power to rise above my own doubts and fears! In His power there is no failure. There is power to silence the demons. There is the ability to rise above my doubts and fears. But I must surrender and “strip down, start running, and never quit.” I must live very close to Him until He lives daily in me. I must persevere and live in His will until I receive His promise of success (Hebrews 10:35-36). That success will then be perfect, because it will be His success.

Success may come in souls that are saved, diseases that are healed, and lives that are changed. But it also comes in ways the world does not consider success. Success is at its greatest in sacrifice. Because it is in the moment of sacrifice that success is found. It is at the moment of death to my own desires that the victory of His sacrifice on the cross becomes alive in me. Then His success becomes mine.

The world does not see success in surrender. The world judges according to its own desires, but God judges with a heart that gave His son for me. The Lord understands the power in surrender. Success is a daily labor of setting my own desires aside, and allowing Him to work in my life. He must plant himself in my life, and prune me until I bear fruit. When I surrender to His daily lessons, I will bear the fruit of success.

So what is success to me? It is His purpose instead of my own—His life instead of mine. The secret to my success is surrender of my own plans, my own desires, my own purpose, my own ideas and needs. Surrendering to Him is a promise of success which is better than any I might imagine. Success is Christ alive in me instead of me! I will keep my eyes of Jesus, and learn how He finished His own race. I will persevere in spite of all odds. When I find myself wavering, I will remember how Jesus faced obstacles that I never shall have to face. I will remember how He laid down His life, so I might be set free from sin and failure. I will remember how He held on for His ultimate reward. Can’t you hear Bruce Copeland say, “If that don’t your float your boat, what will?”

Am I ready to find this success? Are you? This new year will tell.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I BELIEVE

Do I believe He is the way, the truth, and the life? If I believe He is the way, then I will always have a sure path to follow. If I believe He is the truth, then I will always know what is right and what is wrong. If I believe He is the life, then I will faithfully follow that sure path; I will faithfully apply His truth, and then I will live the life in which I believe.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

BELIEVE HIM


“Forget the former things…do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19.

Why is it so hard to get rid of negative feelings? Why do we have trouble trusting God? If we are new creatures in Christ, why don’t we sometimes feel new? Why do things from the past still control our feelings? Why are things from the past still affecting our lives? Why do we allow them to define who we are? Why can’t we just grasp His hand and believe without a struggle?

Because we have accepted Him as Savior, we are new. The old is done. Negative thoughts of what we have been are no longer true. I am not a failure. You are not a failure. We have what it takes. We have Jesus Christ, and He is the way, the truth, and the life which brings new promise to our lives.

To truly forget the former things, and not dwell on the past, we can't just believe IN Him, we must BELIEVE HIM. To be free from worries that control my life and your life, we must BELIEVE HIM. We must believe that He can do what He says. We must believe that we can forget the former things, and they will not control our lives. I am free in Him. You are free in Him, but we must BELIEVE HIM, not just believe in Him.

When we BELIEVE HIM, newness springs up, the old is no more, and we can perceive His truth instead of the lies of our past or circumstance. It is a promise that no matter what we face He is our strength, and brings life-giving streams of hope and promise to the barren deserts in our lives.

I choose to forget the former things, and BELIEVE HIM.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Bloomingly Grounded

Consider a flower seed. It sends a shoot down into the earth in order to be securely grounded. At the same time another a shoot grows upward to become a thing of beauty that will bring joy to the world. 
Without a strong root the beautiful plant that the world sees would  fade away. The higher the growth of the plant, the deeper the root must go to keep it grounded and strong. 

So are our lives in Christ. Without a deep, abiding, and grounded faith the work we do withers and fades. Our attempt at ministry dies on the vine because we have no deep root in Him. Just because a ministry appears gloriously beautiful does not mean it is lasting. Let your roots grow deep in Him, and your life will bloom with lasting beauty.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fuel to Fire

A new year is just around the corner, and each one of us needs to take stock of where we stand in our walk with the Lord. So many times we desire to start January with a list of goals we want to achieve without considering that growth just doesn't happen. Have you stretched yourself to the point that meeting one of your many goals becomes impossible? Are you so busy that the time for a daily Bible study and devotional time is placed on a back burner? We all need spiritual food to fuel our fire.

Studying Scripture inspires, but before it can do something lasting in your life, you have to dig it out. You have to pray about it. And you must study it from within its context. Everyone needs a structured Bible study. A systemically-structured study supplies the basis for the Holy Spirit to speak to you and for you to understand the message in the Word. If you haven’t learned something new from your study, look again. Expect to be surprised by the Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you. Expectation rewards with spiritual surprise!

Remember that God breathed HIS life into the Word., and it trains us in our spiritual walk (2 Timothy 3:16). It was sent for His purpose in our lives, and it will accomplish what He wishes when we make the effort (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Make the effort. He will not disappoint you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Faith, Prayer, & Fasting

Strong and abundant faith in God's constant faithfulness is discovered through prayer and fasting.

Prayer isn’t just telling God what you desire, but is about listening and understanding what He desires. Prayer doesn’t change God, but you. When you enter into holy communication with God, the Spirit of the Lord within you prays to the Holy Spirit. You have surrendered control (Romans 8:26). The heart prays and receives faith without the analytical perspective the mind attempts to interject. Satan’s lies can’t penetrate the shield of faith.

Fasting focuses the mind on God instead of circumstance. “You will keep in perfect peace him, whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). You know supernatural peace at the moment the mind surrenders its struggle for control. When the human mind is bypassed, the need for assurance is exchanged for His grace (Philippians 4:6-8). Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, but Jesus said, "Man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). In another instance, the disciples insisted that Jesus eat, and he said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”. The disciples didn’t see any food. “My food,” Jesus explained, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His purpose" (John 4:32-34).

When we surrender control to God—whether in prayer or food—we receive more of the Lord’s strength to handle life’s uncertainty, and to complete the work He has assigned us. As we grow in these disciplines, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit increases, revealing our own inadequacy, and teaching us how to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Give Him You


Do you know that you have been called to a great work? Mary, the mother of Jesus, was called to a great work. The angel, Gabriel, came to her and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Mary trembled at the news, but she replied, “I am the Lord's servant.”

Mary had a heart to obey. She never walked away from God's calling Don't walk away from what God has called you to do for the sake of time or personal need or even fear. The desire of His heart is for you to know Him completely, to be fulfilled in your calling, to have a pliable heart, to know the power of His presence, and to receive what He has promised. The promise is realized when you allow Him to work in your life, and you give Him the gift of an obedient heart. What God has promised you is true, and He will bring it to pass in His time.

Jesus is the reason for this wonderful season. Christ was born for you and me, and He died for us. It came at the greatest cost─His life for yours and mine─His pure life for our sinful one─His perfect love for our rejection─His pain for our stubbornness. And what will it cost? A repentant, and obedient heart. His will instead of our own. Perhaps you were once wandering, longing to be used by the Lord, longing to be fulfilled in His purpose. The Holy Spirit opened a door, and you walked joyfully through it, and knew the joy of His promise and His purpose. His purpose and His will is your anchor which sustains through all the trials and hardships. Never let go of it.

Have you made a decision about your life which has placed His will on the shelf? Have you let go of the precious gift of His calling for the sake of your own personal need or because of fear? Long ago I did. There was no joy in placing my desire before His calling. I knew great loneliness and pain. At the time my decision seemed so right, because my need seemed so great, but I learned later I had lost so much of what He had promised. And my greatest loss was in failing Him. I lost so much believing I was making the best decision, when all He wanted was for me to allow Him to be in control. He just wanted my obedient heart. He longed for me to trust Him to bring about what He had promised. And what it cost was the loss of His presence. Never again will I turn from His will for my life.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Mary realized the omnipotence of a great God, and the importance of what He asked. She realized that He was higher in every way than she could ever be─that His purpose and vision in every way surpassed Her own. If He has promised you something allow Him to bring it to pass in His time.

Give Him the gift of an obedient heart this Christmas. Give Him “you”. That special promise He has brought into your life will be fulfilled in His time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rest in His Presence

When I am tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, depleted, I go to Him for rest. But I don't just go. I stay. I wait. I let go of all that pulls me down and drains my heart and spirit. And I stay with Him. I stop all that rushes my mind and disturbs my spirit. I go to Him because I know He alone is my help and my restorer. He is my help in my time of need. His presence is constant and sure, and I wait until He fills every crevice of my tired and hurting heart. I fine peaceful rest in His presence.

His rest is fearless. His rest supplies all that I lack. His rest is complete, and is all that I need to complete my journey. I rest in Him until He shows me it is time to go again....until my spirit sings with His strength and purpose.

Whatever your struggle or pain or heartache or want, rest in Him until you are strong again, and your spirit sings once more with His strength and purpose.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NIV).

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Promise of Delivery

Are you going through a difficult time? Is it a time that overwhelms you? Does the pain of each moment bring fear to your heart? Do you wonder if God is even aware? You are not alone. At some time in our lives we will all face uncertainty and desolation. We will wonder where God is. We will cry out in our despair and long for a promise of peace in the midst of the storm. Maybe you have heard that you need to “consider it pure joy” when you go through pain. Perhaps you have heard that the pain will make you bitter or better. It will make your faith stronger. There are biblical truths, but at the point of your greatest pain, you need to hear something more. You need the promise that one day it will end. That one day there will be peace.

Tucked away in the book of Isaiah is a verse that I discovered years ago. It uses the analogy of birth for the promised new life for Israel. It also speaks to whatever pain we face. After months of pregnancy a woman discovers the intense pain of delivery, and at the moment when her pain is the greatest, there is release. What is the result? A new birth and a new life. Joy is the result. The months of discomfort, and the intense pain of delivery have been worth it. All along the way, she has anticipated the joy to come. She has believed in her promise, and the months of preparation have been worth the incredible result.

“'Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the Lord. 'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God” (Isaiah 66:9). No, He doesn't close up the womb. No, He doesn't stop the release that comes forth from all the pain. The intense joy that comes from your delivery is your promise. You are even protected from the pain that would be too much for you to handle. “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son” (Isaiah 66:7). What we might consider the harshest pain is not really what the most horrible pain might be. God has protected us. He has made our labor easier than it might have been, and has brought us to the point of delivery from it all.

Whatever trial you are going through holds the promise of peace. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36). Hang on and find His will for you. Believe the promise is very real. During your time of “pregnancy” you will discover the biblical truths that make your faith stronger. Please believe that “weeping my stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b). The dawn of morning is your promise, and it will come.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Tablecloth

I received the following in an email from a friend. Maybe you have heard it before, but it would like to share it with others who need to hear about God's amazing ways.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities.

When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm- hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the centeraisle. Her face was like a sheet.

"Pastor,"she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials 'EBG' were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria . When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house cleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again in all the 35 years between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

True story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid
who says God does work in mysterious ways.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

There are Times

There are times when God does not speak. There are times when He reveals nothing in answer to my prayerful questions. There are times when He gives no direct guidance. Thankfully, my path is clear enough to know I must grow more in knowledge of Him. I must trust in that I do not see or hear. Quiet prayer communion with Him will give me what I need even though I have no answers at the moment.

He may ask me to wait silently, and to expect just the grace of His presence. The wait will bring greater faith. And the result will be comfort and peace in the midst of any storm. I give Him all my struggles and questions and pain and unanswered questions, and in the giving I discover peace beyond any human words to explain.

Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Changed Heart

In the midst of the hurry of Christmas we are prone to forget the message of Christmas―the miracle of a changed heart. But this morning as I read one particular Bible verse I remember once again, as I do every Christmas, the miracle that Christ's love made in my life one Christmas morning when I was fourteen.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you,” I read. “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Fifty years ago this verse might not have meant much to me, but years later I would understand that this was the miracle the Lord had rendered in my stony heart that Christmas morning.

My father served that year as an interim Justice of the Peace in Woodstock, Georgia. We were in the midst of opening presents when the doorbell rang. A woman with two little children stood on the doorstep.

Daddy guided them into the kitchen, and Mother followed. We three children were left in the living room with our grandparents. No one said anything. Why did these people have to interrupt our time together? We couldn’t open our presents without Mother and Daddy. I heard Mother in the kitchen preparing food. They would be around all the day, and it would spoil everything! I looked through the living room door. The woman sat at the kitchen table with Daddy listening to his soft voice. She nodded every few seconds. Daddy handed her a pen, and she signed some papers on the table. The little girl sat in her lap. The boy held on to her arm, his thumb in his mouth, tears streaming down his cheek. Mother came into the living room to tell us that a warrant had been sworn out against the woman’s husband, and they would stay with us until he had been arrested.

I was angry. Our Christmas was no longer pure and untouched. Ugliness had come into our home. The little boy unexpectedly came into the living room, toddled over to me, and placed his curly head on my knee. One little blue eye gazed up at me. The soft skin around it was swollen. I slowly reached down and stroked his reddened cheek. Everything changed in that instant. The ugliness had not invaded our home this morning. The ugliness had been in me.

A changed heart is what God requires. It is an on-going process for Him to keep my heart and your heart spiritually soft as flesh. My Christmas prayer for you and for me is that our hearts would continually break for Him, and that we would always have a heart that He can move.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Friendship

Luke writes of a man who might have missed his healing without the determination of his friends to literally carry him. Four men bring their paralytic friend to a house where Jesus is, but can’t get through the mass of people. Determined, they climb to the roof of the house by an outside stairway. After removing roof tiles and prying up the mud and wattle, they lower the paralytic’s pallet through the opening. Jesus looks up, and observes the pallet being lowered. What does he see? He sees the faces of four men looking down at him filled with a stark longing need for their friend’s healing. But He also sees great faith revealed in their faces. Jesus looks at the paralytic and announces, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” To show the Pharisees that He has the power to forgive sin, Jesus tells the man on the mat, “Rise up, and pick up your mat. Go home” (Luke 5:16-24)!

In Proverbs Solomon lists three strong values found in a good friend. He loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17); he is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); he never forsakes his friend (27:10). The example of the paralytic in Luke supports Solomon’s observations. He received constant love from his friends. He was closer than a brother, and his friends did not forsake him. They believed in his healing and did what they could to help him. Maybe the paralytic was embarrassed to be the center of attention. Perhaps he asked them not to cut a hole in the roof. Or maybe because he was unable to do anything for himself he was relying upon his friends. What can we deduce about friendship from this example of the four friends’ commitment? No matter what your friend’s belief or lack of belief, you believe in the very best for him. True friendship does whatever is necessary to bring about the promise but does not sacrifice the heart of his friend.

Three years ago a dear friend gave me a calendar that had been printed off the Internet. In the upper left hand corner was a simple statement that showed the true value of a Christian friend. “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

Consider your own special friendships this week, and value each as the gift God has imparted to your heart.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Listen and Learn

How many times do we discover that we have done things that have hurt others? Thing that were not intentional that hurt those we care about so deeply? I know I have. Sometimes in an attempt to lessen a friend's pain and ease a breaking heart, we try to fix things that can't be fixed. The best we can do is just be there and listen.

We have been studying Job's friends in Wednesday night Bible Study. They thought that were helping Job with their "advice", but they were only hurting with their words and accusations. They really didn't understand the "larger" picture, and neither do we.

So if we have hurt another, I can say and you can say...

"Please forgive me, friend, if I make mistakes that hurt you. I don't do them on purpose. I try to be the best friend that I can be, but I often fail in my attempt. My heart hurts for you, but so many times it tries to fix things that it should never attempt to fix. The best I can do for you is pray for you and ask the Holy Spirit to make me sensitive to your needs, and keep me from making mistakes or saying things that hurt you."

C. H. Spurgeon once wrote, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend." This is the kind of friend I wish to be.... one who knows he can't solve the problem, but one who realizes that in listening to my friend's heart, I have given the very best I can give.

Listen to the Holy Spirit, and to our friends.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Encouraging Yourself

David, the boy who took down Goliath, the man after God's own heart, the great king, knew discouragement. “My strength is dried up like a potsherd,” he cried, “and sticks to the roof of my mouth” (Psalm 22:15a). David developed a valuable trait. When there was no one to build his strength, David encouraged himself in the Lord. “You hear, O Lord,” he declared, “ the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more" (Psalm 10:17-18). As Saul sought to kill him, David was alone and hiding in fear. It was in this time of suffering that David learned to encourage himself. Work on developing this valuable trait, and you will discover that fear will not rule your life, and your faith in God's protection will flourish.

David had faith that God would give him the strength he needed for whatever he faced. “But you, O Lord, be not
far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me” (Psalm 22:19). David discovered that sharing with others what God had done, not only encouraged others, but helped him. "I will declare your name to my brothers,” he promised. “In the congregation I will praise you” (Psalm 22:22). Praising God increased David’s belief in God’s promises and provision.

Encourage others, even when you least feel like it. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). It is only because of Jesus’ sacrifice that you can offer a sacrifice of personal praise. Take the opportunity today to give the Lord a sacrifice of praise. Share His joy when you feel sad. Share His faithfulness when you feel deserted. It is not about feelings. It is about God's truth no matter how you feel. The Lord will honor your surrender by encouraging you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sunrise Tomorrow


In 1932 William C. Poole a wrote beautiful hymn. I can't remember all the words, but I remember my grandfather singing it when I was a child. I loved him dearly and when he passed in 1962, I remember that this song helped me to understand that he had gone home.

When I shall come to the end of my way
When I shall rest at the close of the day
When welcome home I shall hear Jesus say
Oh that will be sunrise for me.

Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise in glory is waiting for me
Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise with Jesus for eternity.

When life is over and daylight has passed
In heaven's harbor my anchor is cast
When I see Jesus my Savior at last
Oh that will be sunrise for me.

Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise in glory is waiting for me
Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise tomorrow
Sunrise with Jesus for eternity.

The day my grandfather passed he asked me to sing with him. I was twelve and too busy playing with my friend. I didn't have time to sing with him at a singing in the afternoon. One day I'll sing with my grandfather, Big Tom, again, and it will be everything I missed when he was here on earth.

Jesus says, "Welcome home". He waits with arms wide open. And in that moment my homecoming will be more than any pen could describe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lift My Eyes

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalms 121:1-2).

I will raise my eyes from this world's strife, pain, and struggles to the mountains of the Lord. I will lift my eyes from the pain and ugliness, and lift my eyes to His help. In times of weakness and doubt, I will lift my eyes to the Maker of heaven and earth.

I must see past what is before me. I must see past what my physical eyes only see, to the distant view of His promise. I must train my eyes to see His mountains ahead, until they become focused and sure in my sight....until the promise of the highest summit is rock-solid in my heart.

From the mountain height comes the refreshment of His living waters. They flow to refresh the parched earth. Just as the thirsty soil looks to the mountains for its fulfillment, so my thirsty soul looks to His mountain heights. I await His living water as one who longs for His next breath. For all that I need I will raise my eyes to Him who made heaven and who made earth.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Prayer

Prayer is your one-on-one time with the Lord. It is a privilege that imparts a close relationship, and brings you into the very presence of a faithful God. (Hebrews 4:16) Prayer is God's gift to your struggling spirit. Without it, you have no strength, no guidance, no purpose, no peace, and no victory. With it all things are possible.

You have a calling on your life. Prayer not only reveals your calling, but it is also your direct line to the Holy Spirit and His power. Whatever your calling, you are called to witness the love of God. The Holy Spirit must pour Himself into you in order for you to spiritually impart Him to others. As you are emptied, you must continually be refilled. Without prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit you will burn out.

We often pray for God to change circumstances. We pray for change. Sometimes there is a change in circumstance, but often there isn't. C.S. Lewis discovered a precious truth with the impending death
of his wife. When an agnostic colleague asked him why he bothered to pray when it was obvious that God was not changing the circumstance of his wife's cancer, C.S. Lewis said, “I don't pray in order to change God. I pray because God changes me.” And that is the beauty and gift of prayer. As we draw closer to God in prayer, we find ourselves changing in not only attitudes, but in our actions.

Don’t become discouraged in prayer. Paul writes, “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will” (Romans 8:26a-27).

Just allow Him to search your heart, and He will pray for you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

ASK


‎"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6, NIV).

Don't beg. Ask in faith believing He will supply all that is needed. Trust His love for you. Trust His faithfulness to you. Bring to Him your needs knowing that to lay them on the altar means immediate help in your time of need.

His desire is to supply what you need, but you must ask, believing that He will supply what is best for you. Faith is the key that unlocks the door, but it is only found in intimate contact with Him.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15, NIV).

Friday, December 7, 2012

A New Look at the Prayer of Jabez

Some of us have studied the prayer of Jabez. Many of us have it highlighted in our Bibles, and have prayed for the Lord to guide us, to enlarge our boundaries, to bless us, and to keep us safe from the terror of pain. It reminds us even though pain may have defined our past, that now in Jesus Christ it no longer defines us. We trust and believe in a Savior who carries us through the storms of life and sets our feet on a solid rock above the waves that lash out to destroy.

Today I would like to challenge you to consider two different versions of 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: the New International Version and the New Kings James Version. Especially look at verse 10, and the last request in Jabez's prayer.

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request” (NIV).

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, 'Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!' So God granted him what he requested” (NKJ).

Do you see the change in focus in the different versions? One asks that “I will be free of pain”, and the other asks that “I might not cause pain”. The focus shifts from the “I” of my own self-consideration, to a concern that I might not hurt another person.

Both focuses are right. Both are correct, and both are naturally born from this prayer. Prayer may begin with the concerns that I have in my own life, but should always move to concern for the needs of others. If we desire the Lord to truly guide us and enlarge our areas of influence, we must learn to focus on others instead of ourselves. It is in giving ourselves away that we find healing, and freedom from pain in our own lives. We should always ask if our actions and words bring healing or cause pain.

What does the prayer of Jabez say to you in light of these two versions? Perhaps you might look at another version and find another perspective. Explore where your focus really rests in your own life, and be sure that everything you do and say takes in consideration the pain that another might experience. What God gives in return is the first part of Jabez's prayer! I find that I am blessed if the “concern” of my prayer has been for others. Discover your own “concern”. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through this incredible prayer!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Live Me

"The world has heard about me," He whispers to me. "What it needs is to know me. My children speak about me and try to share me with others, but they are surprised that their words have little impact. They are only words about me. They are not my words living through you.

"The world needs to see me in your life. It doesn't need to hear about my power, but it needs to experience it through you. It doesn't need to hear about my peace, but it needs to see it alive in your life. It needs to see your calm and faith, no matter what the circumstances. It doesn't need to hear about my joy, but it needs to see joy spring up from depths of sure faith in my faithfulness to you. It doesn't need to just hear of my love, but it needs to experience my love through you.

"Live me, and the world will see me in you. They may accept or reject me, but they will have experienced my power in you. It is not your place to save. It is your place to live what I have done in your life. Be my vessel, and I will do the work."

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Foot and Heart Change

Will you come with me into the Upper Room? It is the night before Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus picks up a basin of water, a towel, and pitcher. Kneeling before a disciple he washes the dirt of travel from his feet. Peter watches apprehensively as Jesus moves closer. Finally Jesus kneels before him. Unable to handle the scene before his eyes Peter jerks away (John 13:1-7).


“You shall never wash my feet!” he cries.

"Unless I wash you, Peter, you will have no part of me" (John 13:8).


What would elicit should a response in Peter? Peter is well aware that he is only a servant, and does not believe it is appropriate for Jesus to wash his feet. For Jesus to serve him in such a lowly way creates feelings of unworthiness in him. It is also hard for Peter to visualize Jesus as a servant, because he has only known Him as Master. Yielding to Jesus the servant is harder than yielding to Jesus the leader. Jesus, as leader, bears the weight of accountability. Jesus, as servant, asks, “Peter, I give my life for you, and now I wish you to give your life away for my sake.” The ball is now in Peter’s court, and Jesus asks him if he is willing to be accountable. It is time to see if Peter is ready or not to accept the responsibility of the call upon his life.

Just like Peter, we all deal with a sense of unworthiness, and at the same time, a sense of pride. A lot of Christians try to get rid of their sense of unworthiness without going the way of the cross. Without allowing Jesus to wash their feet and without a complete heart change of attitude, a Christian remains stuck in his own unworthiness. At the same time, if he is a person who is concerned what others think of him, then his outward appearance is his greatest concern. The humility he might actually believe he has found in Jesus might be nothing more than pride. When faced with the true humility of the Master standing right before him asking to wash his feet, his own shallowness brings shame and he says, "oh, no, I am unworthy.”

Jesus asks to wash Peter’s feet. Peter can no longer control with his mind his love for the Master. This is the time that it must become a heart issue. When Jesus kneels before Peter, the humanness of Peter’s mind must yield to the calling of Jesus’ heart. If I am really a Christian who wishes to know the Lord intimately, I don’t want pride to be a part of my life. I really want to experience the humility of heart that Jesus expects. As humans we find it hard to absolutely surrender. We just don’t want to make the sacrifice. What we might not understand is that the sacrifice which is the hardest is the one that brings the greatest blessing.


Jesus kneels before you and before me. With basin and towel ready, he says, "Unless I wash your feet, you can have no part of me". Do we allow Him to have His way in our lives? I pray that we all discover the path of surrender. Because it is at that moment of surrender, we discover who we really are.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Healing in Him


James 5:16 declares, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

There is a saying that confession is good for the soul. Surely that comes from James 5:16. Confession is good for the soul because it releases the spiritual guilt of sin to Christ. It also releases the emotional and mental guilt of sin to the person to whom you confess. When such a hard burden is released, then healing becomes possible. Righteousness is the gift of the Lord, and prayer does accomplish much. It accomplishes miracles in the name of God.

III John 2 reads, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” Realize you are special to Jesus Christ. He calls you, “Beloved!” He died for you so you might discover wholeness in Him. For your body, mind, and spirit.

He wishes you to prosper and to be in good health. He does not wish you to suffer, and have illness. His blood flowed so that you might be healed. His blood flowed so that you might receive continually through faith.

What does He wish for you to receive? His truth, and His truth applied. To receive continually through faith, you must grow spiritually. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. As you grow (prosper) spiritually and then apply the lesson, might faith for the healing of body, mind, and spirit be easier? Might the truth of the message be more real because you have put down a foundation in Him?

My mind, body, and spirit all answer “YES” My heart rejoices because I realize that I have learned another lesson in this walk with the Lord. He trains me in the way that I should go so that when I am finished on that last day, I will be refined as gold. His sanctifying refinement liberates me to believe in what human eyes say is not true. His report is always good.

Seek Him and find the lesson. Learn that God can turn a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) into a time of spiritual, physical, and emotional victory. Even though the battle wages, it still has been won through faith! You are an over-comer in Christ!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Accountability

If I blame another person for something, I judge. If I refuse to take responsibility for my own action, I evade conviction, and refuse my own accountability. I must never try to place blame on another person.

Jesus Christ took my sins to the cross. When I place blame on another, aren't I placing blame on Him? If what has happened is a result of my own sin, I must face my own fault or weakness, and look to change the motive of my heart. My heart needs to be broken just as His was broken for me.

If a problem has been caused by another person, then I will not blame and will not allow myself to attribute any judgment. I will allow God to take care of that, and will forgive as He has forgiven me.

The Faith of Christ

       I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I liv...