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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Weapon of Perfect Love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a, NIV).

Perfect love drives out fear. It is a weapon God has given you to fight fear in your life. Perfect love can only be discovered in Jesus Christ. It is a love that loves you no matter what you have been. It is a love that always sees you beautiful and whole through the eyes of grace. It is a love that always seeks to heal and help you discover freedom. It is a love that desires nothing more than you to know who you are in Jesus Christ. It is a love that can only be found in an intimate relationship with the Lord. Seek Him. Lay all of yourself down on His altar. Hold nothing back. Study His Word until it transform you and renews you in the spirit (attitude) of your mind (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:23). As you know Him more intimately, His perfect love will be more real to you instead of your fear. Faith will be your reality, and fear will be seen as the unrealistic lie of a defeated enemy.
“But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18b). God says that if you are tormented by fear, you have not experienced His perfect love. Fear is all about punishing you. Satan punishes you with condemnation. God loves you with conviction, and His conviction is meant to help change your attitude, and turn from that which destroys you. Fear punishes you. Faith builds a rock-solid belief in God's perfect love. When fear rises up, it is a reminder that you need to continue seeking God, and choose to believe in His faithfulness.

Your faith in the perfect and faithful love of God is what ultimately destroys fear and wipes it from your mind. You faith rises from hearing the Word and knowing the love of Christ (Romans 10:17).The spirit of fear will always rise up. But your shield of faith can become strong enough to stand against it (Ephesians 6:16).

Friday, August 30, 2013

No Fear in Love, Power, and Self-Control


Our pastor recently taught a series entitled “How to Handle Troublesome Emotions”. Emotions wreck havoc in the Christian's life. If they are not brought under the control of the Holy Spirit, they can render you helpless. One of the most difficult emotions to control is fear. It rares its ugly head when you least expect it. The moment fear grabs you, it has you.

Fear convinces you that God is not going to take care of the concerns of your heart. Fear states that your children will not return to God. Fear tells you that those you love are doomed. Fear informs you that your life is always going to be the same, and that God will not rescue you. Fear convinces you that you can't hear God. Fear fills your heart with dread that your financial loss will starve you. Fear makes you believe that your broken family will never be restored. The list can be endless, but it doesn't have to be. That list can be empty.
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but He has given you a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Both faith and fear are an rock-solid beliefs in what is coming in the future. Faith and fear are not just emotional. They are beliefs controlled by totally opposite spiritual forces. Faith is controlled by God, and fear is controlled by the enemy. Faith believes that God will always do the best for His children. Fear believes He never will. But God has given you powerful weapons to fight your fear. He has given you love, power, and self-control. Without these alive, exercised, and applied in your life, you cannot defeat fear. But with His perfect love, His power, and self-control alive and well in your life, you can walk in faith free from the bondage of fear.
Your weapon of love.......“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18, NIV).

Your weapon of power..... “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to  stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world,  and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor  so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil” (Ephesians 6:10-13, NLT).

Your weapon of self-control....“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

His Love, His power, and self-control. Against these no weapon of fear can prosper.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Choose Faith or Fear

“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” (Hebrews 11:1, Amplified Bible).
Just as with fear, faith is the conviction in something that can't be seen. But there is a great difference between fear and faith. Faith believes that God will bring your hope into reality. Fear believes that He will never do it.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).
This verse says we must believe God exists. We have no problem with that part. It is the next part that presents a problem to so many. We must believe that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him. This is a necessary aspect of faith. If we can't believe that God rewards us when we seek Him with our whole heart, then we don't please God.

If something rises up that causes fear, then we must ask ourselves an important question. Do we believe in God's faithfulness or so we believe in Satan's lies? Hebrews 11:6 states that God rewards those who seek Him with their whole being. Satan says that we are of no worth to God. He says God must punish us by allowing the very thing we fear to happen. When the enemy tells us the concerns of our lives are not important enough for the Lord‒when he tells us that we must take care of ourselves because God is not interested‒when He says that God will never reward our seeking Him‒when the lies keep on coming, they “feel” like they are true.
What we feel is often what is not true. If anything, Hebrews 11:1 reveals that feelings don't reveal reality. This verse tells us that we must believe God's Word over whatever we feel. If we don't, then Satan's lies of destruction will destroy our faith, and fear will gain control of our lives. When we choose faith or fear, we choose who we will believe.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No More Doublemindedness


The opposite to a spirit of faith is the spirit of fear. It is impossible for both to exist together. One will be prevalent over the other, and ultimately win. If you are fearful, your mind is not well-balanced. If you doubt God, then you am double-minded. But if you exercise the spirit of faith which God has given (2 Timothy 1:7), you can discover peace when faced with circumstances over which you have no control.

You must come to God “with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord. [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides]” (James 1:6-8, Amplified).

The spirit of fear wishes to destroy your faith by making you “unstable, unreliable, and uncertain” about everything. It wreaks havoc on your thoughts, and weakens your faith in the promises of God. As a Christian you know you should believe that God's promises of love are true, and you do to a certain extent. However, your fears and doubts reveal that deeply-rooted within you are beliefs that are totally opposite to the promises of God. And the Word says that a double minded person should not expect to receive anything from Him.


This is God's truth, and promise. Study God's Word. As you start to face and realize the beliefs within you that are contrary to God's Word, you can apply His Word to your life. Faith begins to grow, and has greater strength to defeat the spirit of fear within you that you have been unable to control. You don't have to be double minded, unstable and uncertain. You can have God's peace and learn how to overcome your fears and your doubts. God's Word has the power to pull down these strongholds in your life. Learn it. Apply it. Pray and ask for God's help. He is always available. Don't ever give up. You can be free of the spirit of fear.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NO NORE FEAR

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of a calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, AMP).

Do you have fear in your life? Does it wear you down? And sometimes when you are having a good day does it rise up suddenly to hit you in the face? Well, the Lord has good news for you. It is not from Him, and He can defeat it in your life. 

Fear is a spirit that comes from the enemy to torment you. "We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,” Paul write, “but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places' (Ephesians 6:12 NLT). Satan's purpose is to “steal, kill, and destroy” you (John 10:10). Fear is a vicious attack from the enemy to destroy your faith. It is a spiritual attack entirely meant to rob you of your peace and joy, and ultimately destroy your promises in Jesus Christ.

The Word says that you are an over-comer, and you are victorious in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:37). He is the strength that defeats that spirit of fear which rises to destroy you. Christ has given you tools to defeat fear. Where Satan hits you with a spirit of fear, Christ fights Satan through you with His spirit of discipline and self-control. If your life is undisciplined in prayer and Bible study, you will not overcome and be victorious. If you lack self-control in your daily life, you will not be able to defeat the lies of the enemy. God has given you a spirit of power. He has given you His spirit of love. He promises a calm and well-balanced mind. His spirit is in you, but He must be exercised in your life! If what He has given you is not exercised, you will not be able to defeat your spirit of fear.

The opposite of a spirit of fear is His spirit of faith. Exercise it. Exercise what He has given you to exercise. Not used it will become weak and ineffective. Exercised daily through discipline and self-control it will grow in its ability to stand against the enemy. As you exercise your faith, and choose to believe God instead of Satan, you will discover you are an over-comer. You will be victorious. Instead of the enemy's lies defeating you, you shall only be made stronger in Christ.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Renew My Heart

Does it sometimes feel like a wall has gone up between you and someone with whom you have shared your heart? Have you looked inside your own heart and asked the Lord to show you what you might have done? It breaks your heart to think you might have wounded another person, and broken their heart. Much worse is to know you have broken the Lord’s heart.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9). “Have mercy on me, O God,” David cried, “according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2). If I confess, He is faithful to forgive, and cleanse my heart. His love is unfailing, and I will know and experience His forgiveness once again. My heart will be pliable in His hands. If I fail Him in anyway, my heart will horribly ache. I will feel and know His pain as if it is my own.

If I have wounded and made another one stumble, then forgive me, Lord. If I have said words without thinking that have wounded, forgive me. If I have turned away from someone's painful cry because I might suffer too, then forgive me. If I have been cold and unfeeling to someone's need, forgive me. If I have run from my responsibility and longed to be hidden from its requirement, then, please, forgive me. Lord, I confess the sins that I know, and the ones that I do not know.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). Renew your spirit within me, Lord. Everyday renew it. Keep me soft and pliable on your altar so your steadfast spirit is secured within me. Guide me. Love me, and keep me safe from my own ability to fail you. I place my life in your hands today, and trust you will do whatever is necessary to mold me and renew my heart..

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Give Myself

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38a).
His love must direct all my actions. I find complete joy in following His will instead of my own. I surrender all of myself to Him....my time, my work, my priorities, my thoughts, my ideas, my preconceptions, my life, my all upon His altar. I give myself away instead of holding on to my own desires. I choose to believe Him only and not my thoughts. He is Truth. I am not. He is Life. I am not. He is Peace. I have none. He is Joy. I can't manufacture it. He is All, and I am just me. Each day I will lay myself upon His altar, and make an offering of me. It is in the giving away that I shall receive. I shall receive His overcoming All instead of the little that I am.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Waiting for Why

A toddler asks, “What's that?” Suddenly aware of the world, he wishes to put names to the wonder at his fingertips. Now his interest is basic, but as he grows, “why” will become his question of choice. Soon he will discover that every question doesn’t have an easy answer. Unanswered questions affect people in different ways. Some react with doubt; some with cynicism, and other, like the prophet, Habakkuk, refuse to let go until there is understanding. Habakkuk’s 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.

We all have “why's”. We all face situations and circumstances that we don't understand. We can react with doubt or even become cynical or we, just as Habakkuk, can take our “why's” straight to God. God’s answer to Habakkuk and the comfort it offers are timeless. “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 2:3). This timeless answer is also for us.

Habakkuk responds to God’s explanation with an incredible prayer of faith! “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Do we respond as Habakkuk did? Do we wait for our answers with such trusting faith? Do we trust God's will above our own enough to say no matter what “I will rejoice in the Lord?”

Not only our faith, but our praise should be as Habakkuk's. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and he enables me to go on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:18-19). No matter what we face or what lies ahead, we can be as Habakkuk, exercising our faith and praising God for His answer which comes in its time. God’s revelation, in response to our questioning “why”, can only comfort if we exercise faith.

Believing in the revelation is a decision; our hardship is the catalyst; faith is the result, and praise is the expression. Our feet become sure, and we are lifted above our suffering to trust in His faithfulness. We know without a doubt that instead of wrath, God has brought us mercy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Hard Morning Instruction


“Oh, my child! Why haven't you listened to me?” He speaks a hard, but necessary, word this morning to my you and to me. “What you do speaks louder than what you say. You say one thing and do another. You instruct another in my ways, but then, without conscience, do the very thing you warned against. My Word calls for honesty and integrity in all areas of your life. There is no slack in this truth. When your witness does not support what you say is true, then you make my sacrifice worthless. It breaks my heart just as my body was broken for you. My blood was shed so that you might walk in newness of life-not wallow in the dire filth of your past. You have rationalized your actions until you no longer hear my gentle leading. I wait for you to hear. I long for you to hear. Give up the past ways that have defined you. Give up the things in your life that bring death. Don't get to the place where you have made so many excuses that you no longer feel my conviction. I want you to see that what you do does not support the faith you speak of so casually. I am not casual. I am life, and I wait for you to return to me. You cannot correct or rebuke or encourage another with patience and careful instruction if what you say is not realized in your own life. Live your life filled with my Word, and allow that Word to accomplish what it was sent to accomplish-new life in me. I love you child, and I long for you to hear my heart.”

This is hard, but I need to hear it again and again. How about you? The moment that I believe I understand all the incredible depths of my Lord is the moment I no longer grow spiritually. The moment that He becomes casual to me is the moment that I have placed other things before Him. The moment that my life does not support what I say is the moment I speak death instead of life. The moment I believe I have arrived is the moment that I have failed.

Today I give Him my life again. I lay all on His altar. I long only to hear His heart.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just Pray

 
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
 
Just pray. No prayer goes unanswered.  Always remember that when things aren't right, or someone does something wrong, it is at that moment that you are to pray.  Don't run and set that person straight, but pray for things that are wrong to be made right, and for the heart of the person to be changed. And as you pray for another’s heart to be changed, you will discover that prayer actually changes you.
 
Don't hide from your responsibility to pray. What is wrong in the world, in your country, with its leadership, and with its people?  Make these concerns the cry of your heart. What is it you see in another person's life that is destroying him?  You hear of someone who is suffering and needs comfort. You hear of someone who is dying and needs the Lord. You hear of someone in acute distress that needs a divine touch. Make all these things which break your heart, the very things that drive you to your knees.
 
There in your prayer closest you shall find one-on-one spirit communion with the Lord that brings down walls, and changes the lives of those for whom you plead mercy. There on your knees you can discover the humble service of prayer that changes the world. You will see the hand of God touch lives, realize miracles happen, and know lives have been changed. Every time that you bow on your knees in prayer, heaven rejoices, and hell shakes. There is great power in the prayer of one who surrenders his heart to the Lord in prayer. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Makes God Personal

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” Isaiah 53:5-6, NIV).

Jesus' sacrifice is what offers us a personal God, but it is your “yes” in absolute surrender that gives you a personal relationship with Him. It is the only thing that does make God personal. He, who knew no sin, became sin in order that each person could be set free from sin's control in our lives. God laid on Jesus Christ all of our sins, and He took them to the cross for you and for me. You can't get much more personal than that! He absolutely surrendered himself for mankind. He gave his life and bore our sins so we might be healed and made whole. He surrendered his life for us. Such love calls for a response from you and me. You can't ignore such a sacrifice. You either accept it or reject it. If you accept it and surrender to Him, you discover the incredible depth of His love that gave all for you. If you reject it, you lose the greatest love ever offered.

What is your response? What is mine? Do we allow Him just a little of ourselves, and reserve our total commitment? We want to approach Him. We want to come boldly before Him in our time of need, but we don’t want to make our own absolute surrender and sacrifice. Perhaps we want to hold on to a gift or even a calling, but He asks us to lay everything down for His sake...just as He laid all down for our sake. Sometimes we must lose the gift or the calling or whatever is important to us to understand that those things are not what really matter. He is what really matters. He is what is important.

If we take our eyes off His sacrifice, we lose everything. If we say “no” we lose everything. If we lay down all that we have and all that we are, and place Him above everything else, we discover a personal God beyond human imagination. We discover the greatest love ever offered. And it is ours.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Developing You



Don't compare yourself with others. Your life is not theirs. Your faith is not their faith. Your faith is what He has given you, and what He builds in you. Look to Him and trust Him to bring about all in your life that He desires. If you reach to be “perfect even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect”, you will discover a sacrifice of heart that builds your character.


 

Always assess your character. Honestly look at yourself and how you live your faith. Look at how your life impacts others, and what it says about you. Pray about your relationships, family, friends, and all those who are in your life. When He reveals something you didn't handle well, pray about how you might have handled it better. Pray about how such mistakes can be avoided. If you have absolutely failed, ask for forgiveness and move on. Don't freeze out of fear of failing again. Be honest with Him and with yourself. He loves honest repentance, and forgives. Allow Him to develop you.
Keep Him close. If you do, He is always as close as your next breath. He is always your helper in your darkest moment. He leads your through circumstances that overwhelm. He brings you from your weakness to His strength and power, from danger to His protection, from poverty to supply, from doubt to faith. Don't ever forget He has saved you from sin, and brought you His love, peace, and joy. Don't allow any circumstance or failure to destroy His life in you. Turn it around for His glory. Allow it to make His life stronger in you.
Just like a photo negative that is developed, allow His to develop you into His perfect picture.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Motive of Heart

We have all heard statements that are meant to elicit sympathy. “I’m doing this for your own good. This will hurt me more than it hurts you. It only hurts when I walk. I’d rather you have a nice dress than I get that warm coat.” The possibilities are endless.
 When I was a child the word “martyr” had this kind of connotation. A martyr was a person who suffered in order to make another person feel guilty for his sacrifice. Later I learned another kind of martyr. He is a person who suffers in order for another to discover freedom from his own guilty pain. Making you aware of the cost his sacrifice is the last thing on his mind. The difference between the first martyr and the latter is found in the motive. The first suffers for self, and the later is willing to die to self.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a martyr as a person who chooses to die rather than deny a strongly held belief. He is someone who makes sacrifices or suffers for the sake or another. A Christian martyr is one, like martyrs of the faith in Hebrews 11, who believe in the message of Christ, and choose to suffer rather than sacrifice his faith. His motive is not selfish. It is about the Savior who changed his life, and he yearns to share that promise with the world. This sold-out disciple would rather suffer and perhaps even die than deny His calling. He chooses to serve no matter what his eyes see, or ears hear, or even how he feels. He is willing to lay down his life so another will discover the forgiveness and freedom found in Jesus Christ.
Are you like Christ? Is the personal cost of your sacrifice the last thing on your mind? Or does the personal cost weigh on your mind and claim your heart? Have you discovered the humility found in giving yourself away only for the sake of another person? Or does your sacrifice become your badge of service? Jesus' sacrifice reveals the heart of the humblest servant. “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8)! The greatest sacrifice He made was never about Him. It was all about you and me.
 So what is the motive of my heart and of yours?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I KNOW NO OTHER

“Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6. NIV).

Do I believe He is the way, the truth, and the life? If I believe He is the only 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 believe He is the only way. I believe there is no other one by which I can come to God. Of that I have no doubt. He is the truth for my life. On that I place my faith. I will seek His truth, and I will live the life He has ordained for me. I will faithfully apply His truth, and then I will live the life in which I believe.

He is the only way. He is the only truth. He is the only life. On this I have placed my whole life. He is my life. I know no other.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Generous Wisdom


When you face a trial, do you suddenly feel desperate and yearn for wisdom from God to handle it? “If any of you lacks wisdom,” James writes, “he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Do you feel overwhelmed by a hard circumstance and don't know where to turn? Turn to the Lord and ask for His wisdom. You will receive divine abundant wisdom to know what to do or not do in your situation. Sometimes we ask God why something has happened, and we don't hear an answer. We are not meant to know “why” in all circumstances. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). God lets you know that you are not meant to have all the answers about why something has happened. However, when you ask in faith for His help, you can trust Him to give you divine wisdom to safely guide you through your circumstance.

James not only instructs to pray for wisdom, but he tells you to pray believing you will receive it. If you pray for wisdom and do not receive it, it is probably not because you don't have enough faith. The Word says that faith the size of a little mustard seed can move mountains. James identifies the problem as being “double minded”. Someone who is double-minded does not live for God, but expects God to answer his prayers. James says such a person is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). God does not grant wisdom to a person who is double-minded. Such a person should not believe God is obliged to give him anything.... let alone His infinite wisdom. On the other side, a single-minded person surrenders to God, and trusts in what the Lord imparts. His mind is stable. He surrenders his whole life to God, and He lives only for Him. He is well aware that if he lacks God's support, he will fail. So when this single-minded person cries out to God for wisdom, He gives it generously.

Do you feel you have faith the size of a mustard seed, but can't move your mountain? It is not your place to move your mountain. It is His. Focus on God's Word instead of your problem. Focus on His power and promise. If you give all your energy to your problem instead of seeking the Lord, you will be double-minded. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3). You become single-minded when you focus your mind and all your energy on Him. Your problem is never the real issue. He is the real issue. When you give Him your all, He grants you His greatest wisdom to handle your problem.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Move Forward



The problems that arise in life are not meant to stop you in your tracks. They are not even meant to slow you down. They are meant to give you determination to move forward with new intention. How many times do you give up instead of facing an obstacle in your way? God's power is available, but sometimes you feel too weak to move forward trusting God to give you strength. His power is not just a strong force you summon to help in your time of need. His power is His love in action. No matter how weak you feel, when you allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you, then you are powerful.

Life is a race with problems that must be overcome. Whatever problem you face, don't allow its hardship to stagnate you or conquer you. You conquer it. God's power is found in moving forward in faith. Move forward and He moves with you. Don't allow difficulty to defeat you. Make it work for you. With God's power, you discover success.

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a), NIV). Run life's race with commitment. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Don't allow anything to deter you from your goal. Breathe deeply the wind of the Holy Spirit to carry you over hurdles, and give you strength to endure the race. Greater faith will be your reward. And when trials come, for they will, you will have God's strength to overcome. You will have His peace to carry you forward toward another victory.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Live You

“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16, NIV).

I can't tell you the number of times that I end up typing “live” instead of “love” on my iPhone. I type to friends “I live you”, and then go back and change it to “I love you”. It hit me this morning that not only do I need to tell the Lord “I love you”, I need to tell him “I live you” in my obedience and commitment.

Living for Jesus is dying to self. If I allow Him to live through me, I am giving Him the greatest respect and love. I have exchanged my life for His love. There is no greater love than dying for another. He died for me. He demonstrated this incredible love by living His purpose and dying in order that I might live and know His love. He gave up himself for me on the cross. How I can I not give up myself for Him now, and allow Him to live through me?

Dying to self is the hardest commitment. I deal with human issues like pride, control, and my own desires. It is human to want my way instead of His. But I am called to live His love, and I can't live it if I want my own way. If I really love Him, these human issues should be crucified with Christ. The life and love He has given for me are meant to be the heartbeat and purpose of my life.

When I live Him and when I love with His love, I become less and He becomes more. Instead of seeing with my human eyes, I see with His spiritual eyes. He helps to recognize the need and potential of others. Instead of hearing with my human ears, He gives the ability to hear the reason for a broken heart. If I fully love Him, I gain spiritual insight and understanding to live Him. My life not only tells Him “I love you”. It says “I live you.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

No More Stony Heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Has someone hurt you? Are you unable to forgive what they have done? Is your heart now as cold as stone? Jesus asks for you to forgive. He waits for your response. He offers hope through conviction. Satan wants you to remain wrapped up in anger and bitterness. He wants your hardened heart to grow even harder. Christ forgave you. Are you willing to offer what He has freely given? Will you actually do as He asks? Make something good come out of what is bad. Turn it around for God’s glory. Open your heart so that another might be healed. Allow forgiveness to set you free from the bondage of anger and pain. The Lord will remove that heart of stone, and give you a heart that forgives. Once opened your heart will rejoice in its freedom. Out of your life will flow rivers or living water. You will discover that forgiveness is a mighty work of God which springs eternal in the human heart.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

YOUR PROMISE OF 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.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Deep Rooted and Blooming

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 if we have no deep root in Him. Just because a ministry appears gloriously beautiful does not mean it is lasting. Without deep roots of faith and dedicated commitment, efforts will fail.

Let you roots grow deep in Him. Study His word, and pray for His guidance in your life. If you want to bloom with His purpose, your roots must grow deep enough to withstand the winds of circumstance that will disrupt your life. When you are grounded in Him and His will, no weapon formed against you will succeed.

In Him is your life, your heart, and your purpose. Be planted and bloom. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Gift of His Peace

"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).
 
Worry will destroy you. It eats at your faith, and steals your joy. Your anxious heart accomplishes nothing but fear. That fear rips your very spirit into shreds. There is a promise of peace, and it is real. In every fear and in every circumstance that brings heart-wrenching pain, PRAY. Give your fear to God. Present it as your gift of faith in Him. When you give a gift you don't take it back. Don't take back your fear. Trust Him to handle it. Ask believing that He will supply all that you need to handle the circumstance. Ask believing that He will take the fear out of your heart and mind. Trust His love for you. Giving Him your fear with thanksgiving, means that you trust His faithfulness to you. Bring Him your need knowing that to lay it on the altar means help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).


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 faith is only found through knowing His Word (Romans 10:17), and through 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).
 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV). Here is your promise! His peace, that your mind can't understand or comprehend, is just “there” in the midst of your pain and circumstance. It is a peace the world can't grasp, because it is comes from the Holy Spirit. When you give Him the gift of your fear, He gives you the amazing gift of His peace.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

FREE IN YOU

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV).
Lord, you accept and love me in my weakness and feebleness. I can be who I am with you. There is just you and just me. There is no image I have to keep. There is no mask I have to hold in place. There is no agenda that has to be met. There is no perfection that I need to maintain.
You see beyond all my limitations, and you love me still. You always see my potential, and never my failures. You know what you have created me to be, and that is not something that I must struggle to receive. I am a new creature in you because of who you are. Not because of who I am. The idea that the you love me with an everlasting love is beyond my human capability to conceive.
When I open my heart, mind, and spirit to you, I receive your freedom to believe in the potential you see in my life. In that amazing love, I discover who you have always meant for me to be. I have been set free from my limited human understanding, and I am filled to overflowing with the freedom that you have brought into my life. I am no longer in bondage to my human failures! I am free in you!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV).

Friday, August 9, 2013

MOVE ON IN ME

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven’t you any fish?' 'No,' they answered. He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.' When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

“Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. 'Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:4-14).

Peter is fishing with other disciples. Perhaps his mind is plagued by his denial of His Savior. Peter cannot forget his sin. He is devastated by His failure. He has denied his Lord. After their incredible catch, John recognizes this man on the shore as the Lord. Peter has been working partly clothed on the boat. Now suddenly he wraps himself in his outer garment, and jumps in the water to help bring in the fish. I am not well-versed in the customs of that day and bringing in fish. But I find it strange that he puts on his outer garment to jump into the water. However, he has heard John call Jesus, “Lord”, and he realizes that this is the Lord he denied knowing three times. With the sudden awareness of His Savior's presence, Peter is physically, emotionally, and spiritually stripped before Him. Grabbing his outer garment he covers himself and jumps into the water to help gather in the fish. He is not only physically stripped. He is spiritually stripped by his failure, and with His broken heart, he is emotionally stripped. But there is nowhere to hide from the Savior on the shore. He finally climbs back into the boat.

Peter does not know what is about to happen, but he feels unready to face the Lord. He does not know that he is about to be made new in his heart and mind‒so that he can forgive himself as the Lord has forgiven him. This is the third time the Lord has appeared to the disciples. And remember that Peter denied he knew Jesus three times. The scene for forgiveness is set.

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, “Feed my sheep'” (John 21:15-17).

There on the seashore where Jesus has cooked their breakfast, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Picture Jesus and Peter sitting around the fire coal fire. The others must have left, because this was a time for Peter and Jesus. Jesus asks him three times, and Peter says he loves Jesus three times. Jesus tells him three times to feed his sheep‒to reach others in His name. He tells Peter his focus is in the wrong place, and his mind is in the wrong place. Peter is thinking of his failure instead of his mission.

Jesus lovingly takes Peter back to the point of his three-fold denial by a coal fire, and tells him it doesn’t matter now. It is no mistake that Peter and Jesus are by a coal fire at this moment. Peter surely remembers the coal fire where he denied Jesus. But Jesus is saying “forgive yourself as I have forgiven you. The past is over. Peter, if you love me, move on to feed the sheep. Don’t allow your past failure to stop you.”

Just as Peter, we make foolish attempts to hide. We try to cover ourselves, but Jesus knows. We can't hide our failure from Jesus. He knows what they are, and He doesn't want them to define our lives. Jesus longs to take each one of us the point of our denial—of our failure, and say “you are healed because I am resurrected. Move on in me.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

His Word Sets My Heart Free


“For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”(Hebrews 4:12).

Scripture has something to say about itself. What it reveals speaks clearly of its own worthiness. The Word of God is alive. It breathes powerful truth and life into my tired dry existence.... into my heart that is crushed.... into my mind upon which Satan etches lies. ... into my dry bones which ache for His breath of life. It slices through doubt and speaks faith. It exposes wrong attitudes and desires of my heart. It opens my heart to listen to His instruction and obey His truth. It sets me free from my own conditional favor.

The Word of God instructs that I not only believe in what it says, but that I also trust its truthful message by applying it in every aspect of my life. Not only must my action be under its holy guidance, but, most importantly, my heart must be pure in its motive. I respect and honor its truth when I live it, and my heart is changed by its powerful message.

I can trust God's Word in every moment of my life. Its very nature is timeless! It is unchanging, and just like Jesus Christ, it is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I can believe its truthful direction for all the circumstances I face, and for decisions I make. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” ( Isaiah 55:10-11). His Word has a purpose, and it will accomplish Hebrews 4:12 in my life if I will study it and open my heart to its truth.

Not only is it timeless, the Word of God is absolutely trustworthy. I can stand on what it says. I can believe in its promises. Its truth was witnessed and shared by those who personally experienced the power of God. It is God's living Word. He breathed it in human writers with the breath of His Holy Spirit. As I study it and seek His truth, He also breathes His life into me. It changes me to be more like Him. It changes the attitudes and desires of my heart. And then I can rejoice in the path of His commands, because His Word has set my heart free (Psalm 119:32).

Lynn Lacher

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Lord, we pray for you to empower us to share your love, and to bring healing to broken hearts and tormented minds. Lord, use us for your glory.... to declare freedom to those who are are bound up in darkness of spiritual and emotional pain. You have called us to this purpose, and we yearn to be faithful. Today we speak life to everyone you bring into our path. We speak hope and faith and promise of release from the prison that has held their heart and mind in chains. This is their day of favor. Today is the day of victory. Chains fall off, and minds are covered by the sacrificial flow from Calvary. You are the provider of comfort for those who have mourned and been in tortured pain. You are the deliverer of those who grieve. Where once they have seen only death and ashes, now they will see the beauty of your healing presence. Joy will be their cry. Instead of the mourning of a broken heart, they will be alive in joyful praise. Praise will lift their spirit of despair. Praise will bring peace and joy. And, Lord Jesus, they will be planted as strong oaks with deep roots that anchor their blooming faith. Where once they could not weather the storms, now they stand sure and tall. Their anchor holds. Their lives will be a display of your power of healing and purpose. Use us, Lord, for this very purpose, and we are fulfilled in you.
In Jesus' name.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Forgive God and Forgive Yourself

Have you ever felt like God has let you down? Do you feel disillusionment in your heart? Perhaps you believe He made you a promise that He didn't keep. Perhaps your whole world has been turned upside down and your heart is broken. He is your Father and He is suppose to care for you. Why did He let something happen that you believed with all your heart He would prevent? The hurt escalates. One of two things happen. You either become outwardly angry with God and run from Him, or you internalize that anger and feel guilty for being angry at God. Either way you end up at the same location. Unforgiveness has taken root. And that will rob you of your joy.

We hear so much about the person that becomes outwardly anger and runs from God. I'd like us to consider the Christian who feels like God has failed them, and is angry at themselves for being angry at God. Not only do they have trouble forgiving God for what they believe is His failure, they have trouble forgiving themselves for being angry at God.

            “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). We always consider this verse being about judgment toward others. How about considering this verse as being about judging God and judging yourself? Christians who know it is wrong to be angry at God turn their anger on themselves for being angry at Him! They don't want to sin and be angry at God, so they become angry at themselves. And a horrible cycle of self-destruction begins. You have to break the cycle. Admit your anger. Admit you need to forgive not only Him, but you need to forgive yourself.

           You have a choice what to do with the disillusionment, the hurt, and the anger. If you allow that hurt to define who you are, anger will immobilize you. You are then in bondage to your inability to forgive God and forgive yourself. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Holy Spirit invites you to acknowledge your the hurt that caused the anger so you might forgive. God does not want you in bondage to your hurt or your disillusionment over what you believe is a failed promise. That hurt and anger can become your own failure. You have the freedom and the power to forgive God and to forgive yourself.

                Are you tired of the hurt that has robbed you of your joy? Be real with God. Tell Him you have been angry at Him because you believe He has failed you. Tell God you have been mad at yourself for being angry at Him. Ask for His forgiveness, and break the cycle. Lay all of it on His altar, and begin the journey of healing. Never close the door that the Holy Spirit has opened. Continue to be honest with God when hurt starts to build. You have asked forgiveness for judging God and judging yourself. Remember that a small slide back down the hill is not total failure. Don't condemn yourself for the small failures. Climb your mountain knowing He not only carries you to the top, but total healing awaits you there. It is your real promise.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Good Choice

Is it difficult to know if you are making a good choice? When faced with a decision are you so overwhelmed with confusion that you become stagnant and don't move ahead at all? Does the fear of making the wrong decision have a strangle-hold on your mind?

“Now what I am commanding you today,” Moses tells the Hebrews people at Moab, “is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach” (Deuteronomy 30:11). He has told them that they must choose life or death. He has told them that their decisions will bring either one. But he tells them that is also not difficult to know if their choices are good or not. It is not out or your reach either, or is it too hard.

How is it possible? Moses answer to the Hebrew nation is also an answer for each one of us. It speaks of the best scenario for our lives. “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:14). Is the Word in your heart? Do you absorb it until its message builds faith in your heart?

Faith to believe you are capable of continually making good choices comes from hearing the message, and the message is only heard through the word of God (Romans 10:17). The Word can only be alive in your heart if you have allowed it make your heart spiritually tender.

Is your heart spiritually tender? Is the Word alive in you? Is your desire to be in God's will, and do you pray daily for His direction? Proverbs 16:3 (KJV) reads, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Where your thoughts are, so is your heart. Sometimes when you are faced with the need to make a decision, you honestly don’t know what God’s will is. But you must make a decision. Pray for His perfect will in this decision. Remind Him of your love for Him and your faith in Him. Lay your decision on His altar, and commit it to Him. If the decision is made out of the greatest desire to be in His will, He knows the intention of your heart, and faithfully honors your prayer. He will either anoint your decision or change the circumstances so your decision will become as He wishes. He will not fail you.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Perfect Love or My Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, NIV). 
It is impossible for love and fear to exist beside each other. It is one or the other. Evil may come against me, but love is the powerful force which defeats it.

There is a human love which can be tormented by fear, but there is a perfect love which conquers fear and trusts in God's faithfulness to overcome all that I face.

The only way to obtain this perfect love that conquers fear is to have Christ in my heart. If His love is growing in me, I learn more of His perfect love and its ability to conquer my fears. I can only banish my fears with His presence and His power.

I will pray to Him, and I will seek Him. I will share His love, and dwell on Him instead of my fears. His perfect love and power will rise in my heart until no fear can claim my mind. I will remain strong in His perfect love. One day I will realize that my fear is gone. His perfect love has driven out that which has the power to destroy my life. I have found His peace in the protection of His love.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Run Your Race

Have you ever focused on a runner’s face as he crosses the finish line? In one moment the sacrifice of hard training is surpassed by incredible joy. He has reached his goal. Does he stop at this point? No. Not only must he remain in shape for the next race, but he must train for different hardships the next race presents. To finish the next race he is ready to embrace discipline once more. The joy of accomplishment surpasses the cost of any sacrifice.
Our spiritual lives are the same. Without spiritual training in righteousness we will not know the joy of crossing the finish line. Spiritual training involves throwing off everything that deters us from the goal. We run the race with perseverance when we determine to be pushed to the limit (Hebrews 12:1).
The only way to run the race with endurance is to focus every spiritual muscle upon Jesus Christ. The race began the moment he breathed spiritual life into us, and continues until the finish life of eternal life is reached. The little joys of sacrifice along the way are what carry us to the joy crossing the final finish line brings.
We realize the joy of personal sacrifice when we understand the great cost of His sacrifice. He endured the cross because of the joy that was to come. He endured the pain for the joy of resurrection. Yet in the moment of personal trial we forget He paid the ultimate price, and in the struggle we forget He is there to help us carry the load. We miss the opportunity to grow because our eyes are not fixed upon Him but upon our problem (Hebrews 12:2).
When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are adopted by God as His child. Because He loves you as a heavenly father, God disciplines you and tells you not to lose heart or become discouraged (Hebrews 12:5). When we understand who we are in Christ, we know Him as a loving father who only has our welfare at heart. We know the hardships we face are meant to create a stronger bond with Him, so we look for the lesson in them. (Roman 8:28). God pushes us to the limit for our own welfare, and for no other reason.
This Truth is only discovered when we embrace disciple.
We embrace that which we love. We hold it close to our heart. Such love has the power to hurt terribly or bring incredible joy. If we love Jesus we embrace His training during good and bad times. It means that we understand its eternal value in our lives. We discover incredible spiritual joy when we allow the Lord to reveal the good that comes from a hardship.
Jesus Christ urges us to finish our race, and to finish it well. Often we don’t hear His voice because we are not willing to embrace His discipline. If we really loved Him we would embrace the hardship that comes and hold on to it until the lesson has spurred us to greater faith in Him.
You are running a spiritual marathon. Life is the race. The problems of life pull the breath out of you, but you are seeking the second wind of His Spirit. The Lord runs beside you coaching you on to greater heights. Each pounding step helps you understand a little more of the cost of His sacrifice.
You cannot understand the depths of such a love until you count some of the cost. Embrace the discipline that comes through hardship. Love it for the lesson and training in righteousness that it brings. Look to Him who is the author and the finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is the one who carries you through the race of life, and who will complete the good work in you (Philippians 1:6)

Friday, August 2, 2013

A New Heart and Mind

With closed spiritual eyes and ears, many people that morning had never entertained the idea that their pastor’s convicting message was for them. Others had heard the message and were literally unwilling. Afraid of what others might think - disinclined to submit to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, they stood with hands gripping the pew in front of them, not even realizing that they had said “no” to the spirit of God. They were not even aware that the attitude of their hearts had been dictated by human will instead of a Holy Spirit altered heart and mind.

As a believer I am to have an open spirit to what the Lord instructs. I do not have the option to ignore the transformation of the Spirit. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers,” the apostle Paul declared, “in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer 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).

My life should be an act of spiritual worship to the Lord who became a living sacrifice for me. Spirit and truth are inseparable. If I worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24), I offer a yielded heart to His replenishment. Spiritual transformation is discovered in the renewing of my mind. A willingness to be renewed means that I am ready to admit I am not perfect. It means that I yearn to know his good and perfect will.

You were taught,” Paul also wrote,” with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 23-23). I am also created to be holy as God is holy (I Peter 1:15), but I cannot be like Him until my attitudes and desires are what He wishes.

In repentance I discover God’s desire instead of my own. The reason that repentance is ongoing is because absolute holiness of heart is a goal. When my heart and mind is constantly renewed, repentance creates the ability to put off the old and put on the new. On earth holiness is a goal that is daily discovered. It is the culmination of surrenders which brings me closer to the ultimate goal. In heaven when I stand in the presence of God, holiness shall be a goal completely realized. No longer will I see Him through a glass darkly, but then I shall see Him face to face (I Corinthians 13:12).

Now I live on earth, and seek Him in daily surrenders. To be made new in the attitude of my mind means that my heart must be broken for Him. “I will give you a new heart,” He speaks, “and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). Where once my heart was as hard and unyielding as stone now he promises it shall beat with the pulsating blood of His living sacrifice. Where once calloused inner pain held God’s renewal at bay, now I shall be energized by His living presence. A new heart and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with the desire to keep His laws and commandments- not because they are rules to be followed, but because I love Him above all else. His law shall be my delight, and in every way He shall be my God and I shall belong only to Him (Ezekiel 26: 27-28).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Risking It All

“While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12-13, NIV).

Having just left Capernaum, Jesus proceeds on a teaching expedition through Galilee. A leper hides in shadow. Disfigured, dressed in tattered rags, his face covered, Luke writes that the man is covered with leprosy. Leviticus 13 gives explicit directions which ostracizes someone with this infectious disease. Risking stoning or even death, the leper breaks the rule to remain at least four cubits (six feet) from normal people, rushes to Jesus, and falls down with his face in the dirt at his feet. Without raising his head he entreats, “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” This determination to come to Jesus and his statement, are testimonials of remarkable faith.

No leper has been healed since Elisha told Naman to wash seven times, and yet Jesus has healed so many incurable diseases. There isn’t a question in the leper’s mind if Jesus can heal, but is he willing? In the leper’s sudden approach, Jesus recognizes the man’s willingness to risk everything. Jesus touches this man whom the law has decreed to be unclean. Proclaiming his willingness to heal him, Jesus pronounces him clean. Skin ravaged by lesions, now suddenly appears clear and unblemished.

This man has risked death in order to seek healing, and his determination has found reward. But not only his determination has made him rush to Jesus. His faith has spoken “if you are willing you can make me clean”. He believes in Jesus Christ enough to risk everything. He has even rushed to Jesus Christ with the question in his head that Jesus might not be willing to heal him. He believes Jesus can heal him, but is he willing?

What a powerful example for us! He had faith enough to believe, and faith enough to risk everything in order to receive. The leper believed that Jesus could heal him, but he asked if he was willing to heal him. He was willing to risk stoning or death even if healing was not in Jesus' will. Do you have this kind of faith? If you step out in faith and risk all, it only makes your faith stronger. Think about this. It is harder for you to step forward with your little mustard seed of questioning faith than it is to rush forward to Jesus believing completely you will be healed. The phrase “if you are willing” reveals a depth of risk that is not found in a faith that believes healing is a sure thing. But it is a risk that guarantees a greater faith. It is a risk that humbly approaches the Savior knowing He has the power to heal, and realizing that the decision to heal or to grant your petition is not yours to make. Just as the leper you are willing to risk all for something you might not receive. And in the risk, the promise is received. The leper persevered and He received (Hebrews 10:35-36).

So what is your greatest need? Are you willing to risk everything? You will discover, just as the leper, that Jesus honors your risk. Because He has already paid the price, He knows the cost of that risk. You rush forward to Him, and He lifts you up in greater faith.

KNOWING JESUS

  Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing...