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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

He Is

In the midst of your storm is exactly where God is. He is the fourth man in your fire, and the strength that holds your arm high above the battle that wages. He is the living water that quenches your thirst in your desert place. He is your constant anchor when all around life rages on. He is your greatest counselor and friend when others have turned away. He is your song when no one else is singing. He is your promise and victory!

 "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)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Where AM I

Where Am I?

If you are a real coffee or tea connoisseur, you anticipate the taste before you take a sip. It is a fact that the flavor of either one is more intense when it is either hot or cold, and not lukewarm. In Revelations 3:15-16, we read how Jesus felt about the church at Laodicea. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth!” He wishes that the church was either hot or cold? Of course He does, because then Jesus knows where that church stands. Hot it is on fire with His message, and cold it is no threat to His Kingdom. But a lukewarm church? Therein lies the danger of deception, because such a church has deceived itself into believing that all is well when in reality it has no power or purpose.

The church is the outward expression of my heart-attitude. Before I look at the church, I must first look at myself. Do I realize that I must continually seek His heart, or do I believe that I am “fine”? Is He the heartbeat of my life, or is He on the outside looking into my heart? Do I even realize that He is waiting and longing to be invited into every area of my being? Do I believe that all is well when in truth I am withering on the vine? When I believe that I am just where I need to be in my relationship with Him, then I am dying. Not dying to self, but to Him. There is none of His life-blood flowing and rendering power in my life. I have no power or no purpose.

Is this what I bring to the church? No power or purpose? If I bring a heart which will not surrender then the church reaps its own self-sufficiency. A heart that is not surrendered to Christ needs nothing more. Believing that it lives for Christ, it does not know that it really has its own agenda. When I bring such a heart to the body of Christ, then I have made the church impotent and purposeless. This is the greatest danger-a stagnant heart-attitude. Instead of bringing life to the body, it brings death.

“Those whom I love,” Jesus implores, “I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelations 3:19-20). When I bring a surrendered heart to the church, I bring one that is easily rebuked and disciplined. It is not hardened or self-sufficient. When I am willing to listen to His voice instead of my own, I have invited Him to come in and change me. If each one of us brings a surrendered heart to the church, then each one of us brings a tender heart that knows His power. When we come together in unity, vision, wisdom, and with an humble heart-attitude then anything is possible because we are no longer lukewarm, but “hot” with His message.

So where am I in all of this? Am I lukewarm in my commitment? Do I bring a bad taste to the body of Christ? Or do I have a heart that wants to be more broken for Him? Do I bring my own agenda to the church instead of bringing a willingness to work with others? He knocks, and it is up to me to open the door. He will not force His way through the door of my heart. I must yield and make the effort. He is knocking today, and longing to be invited into all the crevices of my life. He yearns to not only bring life-changing power to my heart, but through my yielded life, to the church.

Change me, O God. Change me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

IN HIM

“Be still and know that I am God,” He speaks to my heart. “It is only when you reach this tranquil inner place that my deep work can be done in you. It is only in this stillness with me that your mind and spirit will be transformed and renewed. If you live in me, quietness, assurance, and strength will revive. 

“You have not understood that you would have not made it without me. Your cares would have destroyed you without spending time in my renewing presence.  It is not in what I speak to you, but it is in just being with me that you find perfect peace. In my presence you don’t have to figure anything out. Your mind does not have to reason.  Your mind cannot understand the healing powers of my presence. So just be still and know that I am God, and peace is assured.

This assurance springs from deep faith in my promise and power to take care of all that concerns your heart. Find this assurance. Seek it, and once you discover it, hold on to it, and never let anything cause you to sacrifice it. Take rest in me always, and live in my peace.”

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Life Says?

What does my life say? Is it about me or about others? I don't want to be a part of the “it’s all about me” generation. I want my heart to be broken for others. I want my life to make a difference. Many years ago I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Is your life a message or a mess?"  It asked me if I had an anchored purpose or if I was like debris just floating around with no anchor.

Lord, challenge me to examine my life– moments–my thoughts–my actions, and to really see if you are my reason for existence. If you are my first love, I need to live it. James was explicit when he penned that "faith without works in dead". Likewise, he let me know that works without faith has little meaning. If I love you, Jesus, my life is not all about me. It is about you, and it is about others. I should live my faith in action for others. I should be on the front lines for you. So where am I now? Where am I? You know where I am. Am I ready to be truthful with you?  Am I really ready to examine my heart, because that examination will be hard, and will reveal all–what I need to surrender, and how I need to allow you to be more that the little I am? Am I prepared to be a message for you instead of a mess with no purpose? Lord, help me be real with you so that I can be real with others.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

STAND, WAIT, BELIEVE

STAND, WAIT, BELIEVE
Habakkuk was a literary prophet who prophesized to Judah between 612 B.C. and 605 B. His heart broke for a world disintegrating around him.  He longed to understand why evil existed, and always appeared to win.  Habakkuk boldly brought his complaint to God, and then waited for God’s answer.  God’s answer and the comfort it offers are timeless. “Though the answer may linger, wait for it!  It will certainly come, and will not delay.”
Have you ever asked the Lord “why””? Have you ever questioned what was happening in your life, and wondered why you hadn’t heard from God?  “I will stand at my watch,” Habakkuk declared, “and station myself on the ramparts. I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1). Habakkuk stood firm, and declared he would not move until He had heard from God. He did not stand in an attitude of his right to have an answer, but one of humility in the awareness of God’s faithfulness. Having brought his question to God, he believed He would hear. He stood, and he waited.
            When I don’t understand something in my life, do I go to God respectfully in prayer?  Do I wait for His answer, and believe that I will receive it? “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere,” the writer of Hebrews proclaims, “so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36). My confidence in God in revealed in my ability to stand firm and wait for His answer. There is a promise. If I have done the will of God, I will receive what He has promised. 

            The Lord replied to Habakkuk, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 1:2-3). Habakkuk received an answer, and the Lord told him to write it down and announce it. It might take awhile for the revelation to occur, but it would happen. Writing my revelation–proclaiming my promise–speaking it aloud–requires faith. And without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). 

Read how the next few verses in Habakkuk and Hebrews meld together. “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37). “Though it [He] linger, wait for it; it will surely come and not delay” (Habakkuk 1:2-3). “The revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false” (Habakkuk 1:3a). The righteous person will live by his faithfulness (Habakkuk 1:4b). “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:38-39).

When I wait for my answer, I wait for Him. He will not linger in His answer to me. His answer will be sure. It may take awhile, but it will come, and it will true. I will live by faith, and will not shrink from standing firm in Him. I am not one who will be destroyed. I will see His hand move in answer to my need.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Missing

Today I found a list of things that went missing from Mama’s room while she was in assisted care. It wasn’t unusual with so many residents, and the staff always found most of them. Shirts, slacks, towels–the things that were necessary from day to day to make her life complete–would be missing. Now she is missing in my life, and there is no staff to return her to her place. She is gone.
On that Resurrection morning, the women went to Jesus’ tomb, and discovered He was gone. He had died, and His body should have been there. Where could He be?  He was no longer dead. He was alive!  But He was not there.  I realize this morning that I may miss Mama with me right now, but she has been found in Him. One day I will find her with Him. Missing her now anticipates her presence later.
Last night I joined a grief group with others from our church, and found out that the missing of others is as great as mine. In our joint sharing we discovered that we are not alone, and I believe we will discover that the missing brings the promise of what will come–healing of heart, mind, body, and spirit. It is in the missing that I discover I have also been found in Him.
Do you miss someone? Are you missing yourself? The one you miss is only waiting to be found. He waits for you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An Unblocked Life

An Unblocked Life
What is power in my life? Power is simply God flowing through me. No matter how weak or how unaccomplished I might be, when I allow God to work through me, then what I do will be powerful. I need to remember this during days when I seem to slide back two steps after climbing one. No day is a failure when I have given it to God. His use of my surrendered day may not be apparent, but it is real. If I dwell in Him, and He dwells in me, then I will bear fruit. The fruit is not mine to bear. I am just the branch which carries the life of the vine to the fruit. He is the vine, and I am the branch. For the life of the vine to flow through me, I must surrender all that I am to Him. If I dwell in Him, and desire only His will and His work, His Spirit will not fail to flow through my life into the lives of others.

Do I long for His power, or is it blocked? The only block that can hold His power from flowing through my life is self. If this is the case, then my longing for Him must not be enough. Do I hunger for His power enough to let go of all that I am, all that I want, all that I have decided?  Do I not realize that when I hold on to the least vestige of myself I have told the Lord that I am the vine? That is pride. Now think of Peter telling the Lord he was not worthy to have his feet washed. What appeared as humility in Peter was really pride. Peter was trying to hold onto the last vestige of himself by saying he was not worthy, and the Lord was asking for His surrender. Pride. Self. Unworthiness. All are excuses to my absolute surrender.

If hunger to be a channel of His love and His power and keep self out of the way, then His Spirit will flow. I want others to be better for coming in contact with His love flowing through me. If I realize this every day of my life, then I can be a channel of all of Him flowing through all that I am not. Others can receive that which I cannot give, and experience the power of His love. I cannot ask for more.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Failure is His

My failure is His. How often I forget that! Everything that I am belongs to Him, so my failure also belongs to Him. But I must give it to Him. He understands where my failure began, and I know that He alone can make it right. Because I love Him, and my heart longs to follow only His will, He takes my failure and reclaims me. He is my Lord, and I will rejoice in His promise of restoration. Today I step forward from doubt caused by failure, and move forward in faith in Him.  

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). He knows my heart, and he knows that any decision I make I will give to Him. I yearn for my plan to be His plan, and if it is not, I pray that He changes it. I want to be established in Him. No more failure because He is my conquering King. I can do all things through Him. He gives me the strength for this day and for the next. Then suddenly I will see His plan alive in my life. One step, and one day at a time has brought its reward.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moving from Doubt to Faith


Do you ever find yourself doubting God? Do you ever wonder why you have not seen His hand move? “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,” the writer to the Hebrews exhorts, “for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). God is faithful. The problem a person may have in moving from doubt to faith is not because of God. The problem sometimes comes when you have trouble with “unswervingly” believing no matter what your eyes see or your mind dictates. “So do not throw away your confidence,” the writer continues, “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). The confidence you have in God is your level of faith in the His faithfulness. Be diligent in trusting Him and serving Him, and when you have done His will, you will see the need fulfilled and the dream realized.

            Suppose you have a checking account with one million dollars. That money is no good unless you use it. If you just let the money sit in the bank, not purchasing or investing, it profits you nothing. The Bible is your checking account, and His promises are waiting in there for you to use. To learn perseverance, you have to withdraw from the account of God's Word. When you study His Word and see how God is directing your life, His promises become real, create faith, and the ability to persevere. His promises do nothing for you if don’t withdraw them, live by faith, and allow them to work in your life.

             Faith increases with perseverance. Invest in His Word, and believe in His promises. Your faith will be richly rewarded. Not just a little rewarded, but RICHLY. The Lord has good things for you. He takes care of His own. He will never leave you hungry, wounded, or forsake you. He longs for your faith to grow stronger. He longs for you to trust Him. Here are some of His promises you can withdraw: Matthew 6:8; Psalm 37:4, Philippians 4:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:17; Psalm 23:1-3; Galatians 6:9; Psalm 146:5-6; 1 Peter 4:19, and so many more. Find them, and withdraw them. He has faith in you! Have faith in Him!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Freedom from your Fence

Do you have an area of your life where you sit on a fence? I believe that we all have such an area. We regard it as a place of safety, but it is not. We yearn for it to keep fear at arm's length, but all it does is keep hope away. We sit on the fence because not sitting on the fence means that we must make a decision one way or the other. If we get off the fence, we will be forced to commit to something. We will either believe or not believe. We will either have faith or not have faith. We will either accept or reject. We are afraid to commit because we might be wrong. On the other hand we are afraid to not commit, because we might be wrong. So we are imprisoned on our fence. The fence has not become a place of safe retreat, but it has become a jail. Is it so hard to realize that remaining on the fence takes more spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional energy that making a decision? Staying on the fence is really a choice. It is a choice to remain in bondage instead of discovering freedom. 

“If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you,” Joshua told the Israelites, “then choose for yourselves this day who you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15, NIV). Make a decision, Joshua declares. Choose who you are going to serve–one or the other. Don’t serve who is the most convenient at a certain time. Don’t remain on your fence. Make a choice, but remember with that decision you either choose life or death.

 “Now choose life,” Moses told the Israelites, “so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20, NIV).

Do you sit on a fence believing one way one day, and another the next? Choose to make the Lord your life. Rid yourself of those other “idols” that pull you the other way. Don’t sit on your fence and serve who is most convenient at the moment. The Holy Spirit offers freedom to choose Him–to choose true life. Let go of the bondage of your fence and rejoice in freedom in Him. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Worth of Surrender



Life is filled with constant irritation. Those irritations can spur me on to spiritual growth or they can destroy what God wishes to produce in my life. Whether good or bad, my life is a result of my attitude. “Rejoice always,” Paul encourages, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). It is God's will that I have a good attitude in all circumstances. I will rejoice no matter what. I will pray continually no matter what. A no-matter-what attitude can lift me above whatever I face. I absolutely surrender to the lesson—not to the circumstance.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,” Paul instructs, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2) Do I have a sacrificial attitude? Do I long to be a living sacrifice? Or do I fight against the lessons of life? Strength, joy, peace, and a no-matter-what attitude come from surrender to God's perfect and pleasing will for my life.

 Surrender is not an option, and it certainly does no good to rage against my circumstance. When God’s incredible mercy is my reason for living, then surrender is something that comes through the renewing of my mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. I yield to His lesson for my life. I sacrifice that “fight” against powers that are beyond my control, and gracefully accept His lesson. By accepting His discipline, I accept the lesson found in His discipleship. Learning God's lesson becomes my passion.

Over half a century ago, Jim Elliot, a young Presbyterian missionary, was killed in Ecuador by Acua Indians. His wife, Elizabeth, wrote years later about her husband’s passion for the lessons of life. “Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God. When I know myself called, summoned, addressed, taken possession of, known, acted upon, I have heard the Master. I put myself gladly, fully, and forever at His disposal, and to whatever He says my answer is yes.” Nothing will destroy me when I know myself as called to give all to Him. Nothing will come against me when I yearn to know what strength He gives me in the struggles of life. I can discover that I need “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

What is the cost of my surrender? Letting go of who I think I am. Letting go of my desires. Letting go of my goals. Letting go of my agenda. Letting go of my control in every circumstance and every situation, and allowing God to lead me. When I let go then I have counted the cost of surrender, and determined letting go is worth everything for what I receive in return.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Prayer



Dear Father,

I don’t think I lived before I knew you. I can remember not loving you, and the pain is too much. The thought that I once rejected you– that my actions and my cold heart continually drove nails into your hands–brings such anguish. Thank you for forgiving me for those years. I praise you for wiping my slate clean, and that you remember my sins no more. Don’t ever let me forget from where you have brought me, but don’t ever let the memory of that time pull me down. The emotional baggage is gone, in Jesus name. The spiritual and physical separation is gone, in Jesus name. In Your precious name, I have found healing, and I’ve found your wholeness.

Lord, Jesus, help me always to seek your wholeness of body, mind and spirit–your perfect wholeness found in your majesty of Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Teach me your precepts so that I might walk in your perfect way–following the steps that you carefully lay before me.  Open my eyes to the reason that I walk in them. Open my mind to understand the depth of my commitment. Open my ears to hear your still soft voice. I long for my eyes, ears, and mind to be blessed by your grace. I yearn for the humility of heart and soul that brings you pleasure. I am starved for your presence, and knowing you in the beauty of your sanctuary. Hold me safely in the safety of your abiding presence.

Heal all relationships in my life that need healing. Teach me that the healing in a relationship starts within a person that can be molded by the Holy Spirit. That should be me, Lord!  I can’t change another’s heart, but I can forgive the one who is angry with me, Lord. I can pray for words to say that brings healing to a broken and hurting life. You can show me that one thing that will pull down the strongholds in a life–that one thing that can start your healing. Reveal to me my own strongholds so that I may not judge another for theirs.

Some are so hurt by those they love. They have been injured by painful actions or unnecessary words. Lord, Jesus, it is how I react to how injuries that will bring healing or more division. It is how I pray–it is how I listen to your direction–it is about my will being open to your precious leading–that speaks life instead of death. How I respond to injury and pain caused by others, speaks what I really have inside my heart.  

Lord Jesus, for all who suffer from pain caused by someone that they haven’t hurt, I ask for your eyes, ears, and understanding to see what they are meant to be. Give them your love. For those who have hurt others, and asked forgiveness, and have not been able to mend those relationships, I ask for your love to be greater that the pain of their rejection.  Lord, there is healing IN YOU and IN YOU alone. 

I pray restoration in all our relationships, and that we would always offer the kind of fast you call for in Isaiah 58. It is then and only then, we can be the restorer of broken walls.  It is only when we come in true sacrificial fasting of heart, and actions that speak your love, that we can be used to bring healing.

Lord, I am on your altar this morning asking to me made over… giving you the pain caused by anyone who has injured…giving you any bitterness that has taken root… giving you the rejection that pushes me away… giving you the wall I have erected to hold that relationship at bay. These things are all gone. I am open! I am free to walk in your spirit. I am free to be all you have called me to be. Where you spirit is, there is freedom!

Then I see healing!  Then I see victory! Then I know and really understand the power of your sacrifice and in your resurrection. Only in you is life, and that life is the light of men. I wish the power of your word and your love to create light within my heart… a light that draws those wounded to you.  Today, I commit my heart to loving those who have held my heart in bondage.  Today, I claim freedom for not only me, but also for them. Today, I will see miracles… if I trust you to do the work through me.  But I must make the decision, and I must be the catalyst.

Praise you, Jesus, for your power and love that gives me life today. Lead me through this day and use me to bring life to someone else. Lay out surely and clearly the road I must travel. And help to realize although it isn’t always easy, that Lord, he’s my brother.

Loving you Lord,
Amen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Let it Go

Have you ever been hurt by someone you love or trust? Has their action surprised you and made you think less of them?  Do you feel disillusionment in your heart growing?  Unchecked, it will ultimately grow into unforgiveness. And that will rob you of your joy.

Unforgiveness is a terrible cancer. It eats at your spiritual health and ultimately destroys your relationship with God. God has given man a free will to choose or reject Him, and you also have a free will to forgive or not to forgive.

            “Do not judge,” Jesus instructs, “and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Isn’t the inability to forgive really judgment of that person? Your hurt and your pain do not give you a license to judge that person. It does not give you a license to be angry.

            When you are devastated by someone's action, you have a choice what to do with the disillusionment and hurt. If you allow that hurt to define who you are, unforgiveness (bitterness) will be your banner. It will immobilize you. You are then in bondage to your pain. The Holy Spirit invites you to acknowledge your pain so you might forgive. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 3:17). God does not want you in bondage to your hurt or your disillusionment over someone else’s failure. That hurt can become your own failure. If you know the Lord, you have the freedom and the power to forgive.
            Perhaps you feel with all your heart that your love is 100%. No human being can give their love at 100% as Christ gave His love. You give your very best, and your very best will not happen if there is judgment, hurt, and unforgiveness. Your very best is to allow His love to flow through you, and if it is His love instead of your own, then that stone in your heart of disillusionment will dissolve.
 Are you tired of the hurt you feel when another person doesn’t live up to Christ’s sacrificial love? Have you ever considered that your hurt also keeps you from living up to it? Let the pain go. Let the disillusionment and hurt go. Look to Christ as your perfect sacrifice because no one else can be that. Realize that no one is perfect. The Lord “will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you, and will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mama's Advice

           When Mother passed, I wasn’t there. She waited for us to leave, and Pat was the only one with her that night. He called me when it happened. I drove to Autumn Cove with all kinds of mixed feelings in my heart. I’d wanted to be with her when she left this earth. I’d wanted to hold her hand as she slipped into heaven. But I knew she wanted to make this transition with the least fanfare, and Pat was the one whose presence would not make any demands on her. Always the caretaker, she would not have to take care of him. The rest of us, she would. 

             A few days ago I was praying, and suddenly thought that I should turn to 2 Timothy 4. When I looked up this Scripture, I immediately knew it was an answer to a specific prayer. For weeks I had wondered what my mother would have said to me if she had been able to speak in the last few hours before her death. I had wondered what her advice would have been–she always had lots of advice. I now smile to myself remembering the years of motherly advice that had been heeded and some unheeded. In these verses Paul spoke to Timothy, but mother spoke to me.

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:1-8, NIV).

Mama had always told me that I was the preacher she had prayed for in the family. No, I am just who I am because of who she was. Mama was the one who taught well, who lived well, and lived these words throughout her life. I now have my charge from her, and I know what she would have said. I will heed each word, and live it the very best that I can. 

The time of your departure came, Mama. You kept the fight. You fought the fight, and now you are free with your Savior. You have your great reward. One day I will see you again, and for all you have given me, I am truly forever thankful.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Change

Change is inevitable. It can be frightening, but, if your life is safely hidden in God, you cannot fear change. He never changes, and remains the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is your constant foundation in this vacillating world. Trust Him when what happens does not seem for your best. Learn His lesson, and apply it to your life. It makes the next change, whether good or bad, easier to handle, because you have learned spiritual balance and poise in a world that offers no solid foundation. 

His power to handle change is available at all times. Claim it, and use it constantly in life’s changing moments. His power, His strength, His faithfulness, His consistency, His balance-it is all yours to exercise everyday. You can never ask too much of God. His provision is unending. He is unending. Living in Jesus Christ is abundance beyond any measure.

“See, I am doing a new thing!” the Lord proclaims. “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:19-21).
 
Whatever change lies ahead, He has made a way to provide exactly what is needed for your journey. You are His child, and He will not forsake you or leave you. Praise Him and accept His joy. It is His gift to you.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Child

Dear child,
For me to bless you, your heart must seek mine. Your decisions will be the right ones if you commit them to me and desire me before anything else. Place your will on my altar as your most precious offering. I gave up my will for you when I died for you. Now I long for yours to be given in love. Now I seek yours. Trust that what I shall do is best for you. Believe that I am powerful enough to do anything and everything. Believe that nothing is impossible in my hand. Then leave all with me with thanksgiving in your heart. Give me your tired heart, your poor days, and all in you that yearns to be free. Be confident of my safety and complete protection. When you give all to me, I am the Lord of your future. It is in my hand. You cannot see it, but you can trust me for it.  Right now, child, if you could see it all, you could not bear it.  I will show you a little at a time as it is needed. If you accept my heart and my will, you will know joy. You will know peace that I have all your life in my hands. Look to me the author and the finisher of your faith. Allow me to be ALL in you, and your heart will be free.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Greater Faith

20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20-21 ESV).

I find it interesting that several versions of the Bible do not include verse 21 in Matthew 17, because it is a verse that jumps of the page to me, and explains how I can discover abundant faith. In this chapter Jesus has just come down off the mountain where he has been with Peter, James, and John. These three disciples have witnessed the incredible sight of Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. Now Jesus is suddenly approached by a man whose son has been tormented by a demon since he was a child. The other disciples have been unable to help this man’s son, and have they just asked Jesus why they were unable to rid the son of his demon. Jesus answers that it is because of their little faith. In that illusive verse 21, Jesus explains that faith—strong enough to cast out the son’s demon—is discovered through prayer and fasting. This is clear instruction how we can find a strong enough faith to rid ourselves of the “personal demons” of fear, lack of confidence, lack of trust, animosity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, and anything that holds us from growing in faith. Prayer and fasting are the two disciplines which will make a difference.


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).


On the mountain, Peter, James, and John experienced incredible faith at the sight before them. It created emotional fervor in these three disciples, and then later, when they came down off the mountain, the other disciples were unable to cast out a demon. Jesus called them an unbelieving generation. Jesus Christ answers clearly by word and deed that He is all that is necessary to have great faith. Sensory perception doesn’t inspire greater faith (Hebrews 11:1).


Whatever your “personal demon”, faith is the only way to end its ability to control your life. It is the only way to move it out of your life, or put in under your feet. Prayer and fasting are two disciplines which inspire greater faith. I want the things that I have allowed to define who I am to no longer have the ability to define me. I want a strong enough faith to stand against the lies of my past. I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7). And I want to be new in every way. Don't you?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

His Presence His Peace

God’s peace is greater than all the wisdom and knowledge found anywhere in this world.  There are no words that describe the relief it brings to the human soul. It is in the quiet depth of His presence where all is made clear without the analytical need of my mind to understand. This is where faith is born. I don’t need to understand. I believe because He is. My mind is not focused on human reason, but on His promise of peace–not the fleeting peace the world offers, but His peace which is lasting and real.
He will keep me in His peace when my mind is focused on Him. In this place of release of everything that plagues my life, I discover His peace that guards my heart. This “letting go and letting God” takes care of every concern of my mind and heart. I discover sweet release of my human limitation, and accept all of God’s faithfulness to handle what I have entrusted to Him.
When I have given Him my concerns and gained His peace, I am able to understand the greatest truths of His Word. In the place where all that I am is controlled by all He is–where His peace is my constant promise–I will know His heart, and understand greater truths than my analytical human mind could have ever understood.
“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:70, NIV).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Let Go and Let God

How many times have we heard that we need to move forward in Jesus Christ, and let go of the comfortable place where we have settled?  We need to get out of the safety of boat, and launch out into the depths of His perfect will. “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalm 42:7). The depth of the Holy Spirit calls to the depth of man and bids him, “Come. Step out of the boat, and launch out into the deep with me!” Do I long for His waves and breakers to sweep over me carrying me to new heights? If I truly long for these unknown depths of complete surrender, I must let go of all that has defined who I am.

“Let go and let God!” I have heard this most of my Christian life. It sounds good, but how many of us allow our failures, pains, attitudes, and even sins that were crucified with Christ to hold us back? Christ calls us to let go of all that has defined who we are. As a new creature in Christ I must let go of what I consider the “security” of the boat. There is no security in the boat I have constructed. There is no security in false hopes and dreams that offer nothing in the end. That boat is subject to the waves and storms of life. That boat can sink. But I will discover when I let go of my self-constructed identity, and step out into the depths of the unknown in Christ, I am at last standing strong upon the waves, and not sinking into the depths of my own despair. I am standing on the rock of my salvation.

When I “let go and let God”, I am so longer the child who failed at sports, or math. I am no longer the person who could not quite get things together, or a person who has been hurt because of teasing. I am no longer someone who lets feelings of rejection, whether imagined or real, define who I am. I am no longer one who needs the world to approve of me. I have found my worth in Christ. When you “let go and let God”, you are no longer a failure. You are no longer subject to the pain of abuse or rejection. You are no longer ruled by fear. You are no longer “not quite good enough”. In Jesus Christ all this old has been washed away by the breakers and waves of the Holy Spirit. You are a new creature, a new person, a new identity in Him! 

In the book, The Shack by William Young, Mack stands on the end of a dock with Jesus, and stares at the surface of the lake. Jesus asks Mack to take his hand, and step off the dock, but Mack can't let go of the surety of dock. “So, why do I have so much fear in my life?” he asks. Jesus' answer cuts to the core of the issue. “Because you don't believe. You don't know that I love you. The person who lives by his fear will not find freedom in my love.” Oh, it is so true! We must not be afraid to move forward. Fears will hold us in our own self-constructed boats! There is freedom from all that has defined us when we let go and move forward.

Each day step out of the boat and discover your newness in Him again and again. The old will fail you. The new in Christ will never fail. Launch out into the depths of what has been your uncertainty. You will find it the most certain thing you have ever done.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

He is My Hope

He is My Hope

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Isaiah 45:3, NIV).

I place my hope in God. I shall hope in Him alone. No matter what trials may come, my hope in Him will only increase. And I will have greater hope because I have more and more of Him. I will praise Him. My days shall be full of joy and peace.  

I never need to seek answers to what happens in this world. I only need to learn more of Him, and I will have all the answers that I need.  One day when I see Him face to face, I will not even need to ask, because all the answers will be in Him. For now all I need to know is found in knowing Him. 

He is my answer.
He is my hope in all things. 
He is my Savior and my God.

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...