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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Time For My New

Isaiah 43:18-21 has been my scripture these last two days. It is rich with promise for our lives! Have you ever wished your mind would think only of good things, and believe unceasingly in what God promises? I have! You hope to believe. You cry out to believe. Even though we are meant to be new in Christ–even though we know that all things in our lives are meant to be new–even though we believe the old should be over, we sometimes struggle to move forward in faith. We cannot fully perceive the depth of the incredible spiritual transformation that new life in Christ really promises. He means for us to be completely free from the chains of old baggage, and to live in the freedom the Holy Spirit imparts (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18). This Scripture tells us not to wrap our minds around what has happened, and not to continually think about the past that has defined us. It instructs us to make a decision to forget the former things. Forget is a strong word, and it means “being unable to call to mind, unable to summon up, or unable to picture.” Now that sounds amazing– not to remember or even have a picture in my mind of past fears or failures. Forget means that the past is gone. So we shouldn’t continually think about it or dwell on it. He will keep me, and He will keep you in perfect peace when our minds dwell on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

See,” the Lord declares, “I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it” (Isaiah 43:19)? When my mind does not dwell on what has been, hope is much easier. “See” is another strong word, and it means “to understand, realize, or perceive.” It doesn’t mean to just "look”. “Look” is concerned with appearance only. “See” takes “look” somewhere it has never gone before. “Look” glances, and then moves on and misses the depth of God's truth. “See” seeks, and expectantly trusts that God is doing a new thing. Faith is the new thing. Faith is not dormant. It is alive. It springs up. Can I not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland,” He promises. “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 43:20-21). Even though I may walk through a wasteland of pain and suffering, it will not destroy me. It will not define me. He created me to love and praise Him, and I belong to Him. He gives me everything I need to survive and flourish. I choose to forget the old and to find this new and greater faith He has for me. It is time for my new. I choose to perceive it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Life Happens


“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).


Life happens. Whether good or bad, change can still be frightening. Change means that what you have believed in this life is no more. When circumstances change for the worse, you may grieve the loss of what you believed would last. When they change for the better, sometimes you have difficulty with the adjustment that the change requires. No matter what happens in life, God is your constant and sure foundation in this vacillating world. If your life is safely hidden in God–if He is your cornerstone of faith, you cannot fear change because He never changes. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 

His perfect plan for your life always gives hope for your future. Trust Him when the seasons of your life change. Learn His lesson in wherever circumstance life places you, and apply that lesson to your life. It makes the next change, whether good or bad, easier to handle, because you have learned spiritual balance in a world that offers no solid foundation. The power of the Holy Spirit to handle change is always available. Claim it, and use it constantly. His power, His strength, His faithfulness, His consistency, His balance is all yours to exercise everyday. You can never ask too much of God. His provision is unending. Living by faith in Him provides abundance in all that life brings. 

“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 new thing lies ahead in your life–whatever change, He has made a way to provide exactly what is needed for your journey. He offers all the resources you need. You are His child, and He will not forsake you or leave you. Praise Him and accept His spiritual peace. It is His perfect gift for your life–to know that in whatever change occurs, He has a plan and purpose for your life.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I Have Him


“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV).
No matter what I face, I am never alone.
No matter what my weakness, I have His strength.
No matter what I feel, I have a spirit that rests in His Truth.
No matter what my struggle, I have peace that He is in control.
No matter what my defeat, I have victory in His purpose.
No matter what my sadness, I have joy in His strength.
No matter what my lot, I have faith in Him.
No matter what, it doesn't matter.
I have Him.

Friday, December 26, 2014

His Word

"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, NIV).


I remember the moment I found these verses in Isaiah. The words on the page suddenly became full of promise for me. They were like a hidden treasure for me to discover, and I was hungry for the adventure. I wanted them to accomplish His best in my life. As the pain, loss, and troubles of life have hit me fully in the face, God has always reassured me with the promises I have discovered in His Word. Through many years He has continually given me peace the power they impart.


So many know that one of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:6-7) "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Whatever happens I can trust God to handle my pain. I can trust Him to carry all the worries and problems. But I must release all of it to Him, and allow His peace to work in my heart and mind. I have to learn to surrender everything to Him, and that process means letting go and allowing His strength to become mine. I must face my fears and problems head-on with His strength and believe He will carry me through each ordeal. I must exercise faith trusting that no matter what the outcome, He will provide for my every need.


He is my hope and promise! "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV). I choose to believe in His promise! “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame" (Isaiah 50:7, NIV). Unswervingly! With my face set like a flint! This is way I will believe. He will provide the strength to overcome my fears, and face my problems head-on. I decide to believe this, and allow Him to be my strength. It sounds good to read these Scriptures over and over, but I MUST internalize them until they become real in meuntil my every thought is taken captive by them. And only then I will realize His greatest healing 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, NIV). "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24, NIV). I must never give up! I must believe that He is faithful to take care of whatever I have released to Him. I must believe that when I surrender by body, soul, spirit, mind, and heart to Him, I will receive what He has promised me. He will give me victory over fear, problems, struggles, and I will know peace that the world will never give. It will be His peace that passes all my human understanding. And I will know Him through His Word alive in my heart, and His Spirit alive in me. He will truly be my strength, my victory, my Savior, my peace, my joy, and my love.



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This Christmas


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, KJV).

For unto us a child is born, but not just any child. He is a child born to save the world. He is a child born to save you and me. He is a child born to change our hearts. This child speaks hope where the world speaks discouragement. This child gives joy where the world offers despair. He imparts what the world can never impart–His peace. For “all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 61:3, NLT).

Jesus Christ came into the world to lay down his life for our sin. He was not forced to give up His life, but He gave it freely for you and me. Because of His willing sacrificial love for us, we can go into the presence of an almighty God and find help in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). There is hope in the midst of discouragement and despair. There is the promise of eternal life, joy, and peace. His name is the name above all other names. He is the one who is your answer.

This Christmas ask Him into your heart, and experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything you can understand. His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live your life for Him (Philippians 4:7).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

To Everything


“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV).

Whatever season of your life you are in, there is a purpose in it. Sometimes when you are going through a time that is hard, it becomes difficult to see yourself in a better season of life. Each of us need to seek His purpose in whatever time we experience rather than try to rush hurriedly through to the next one. When we push this way, we miss what the Lord wishes to accomplish in us. Each season the Lord imparts is given for His reason. The incredible value of the lessons learned from each time can give us greater faith to make it through all the difficult seasons of life. They can also give the greatest fulfillment in the seasons that bring joy.

I have been in a time of mourning over the loss of my mother for almost two years. It has been a long process. For some reason during the last two weeks, grief has hit very hard. I didn't understand why this intense grief had come over me so powerfully. I thought is was because it is Christmas, and that was one of Mama's favorite times of the year. This past Sunday when it was overwhelming my heart, I suddenly moved from a time of weeping and mourning to a time of laughter and joy. When I thought the pain was becoming too much to bear, God moved me to a new time of light-heartedness and happiness. He opened a door to the next season that only He could open. With His powerful Hand and in His perfect way He encouraged me that it was time to move on. I know without a doubt that my season of mourning has passed. Where I go next is His choice and for His purpose.

Whatever your season or time, learn from it. Rejoice in the lesson to be learned. Apply it to your life. Allow God to take you where He wishes, and allow Him to mold your heart. The pain you may feel now will definitely be part of your joy later. Also the joy you may feel now will carry you through any difficult season that lies ahead. Wherever you are, He is with you, guiding you from one season to the next. Give Him your hand, and trust the one who gave you this life to carry you safely and joyfully through it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Confidently Ask

"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).
What is the desire of your heart this Christmas? If whatever you desire is in His will, He hears your request. He knows exactly what it is, and has your provision ready. You can rest assured that He has the best answer for whatever your need. Have confidence in approaching Him. Ask in faith believing that He will answer. Trust His love for you. Trust His faithfulness to you. Bring to Him your desire knowing that to lay it on the altar means immediate 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 in intimate contact with Him. To know Him intimately means you understand His will for your life, and that it is more important than anything else. A heart that is sold out to God has the faith to believe that He can move mountains. Let Him own your heart, and “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).

Ask in faith confidently believing He will supply your heart's deepest need.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Making His Joy Complete

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV).

The phrase from Philippians, “make my joy complete”, is on my mind this morning, and I want to explore what it means for me. Being complete is being fulfilled. The Lord wants to experience His fulfillment in me. More than anything, He wishes me to discover fulfillment in my Christian life. My fulfillment brings Him joy. So how can I “make His joy complete”and bring fulfillment to Him? In these verses in Philippians, I find my answer. If I share the love He has given me with my brothers and sisters in Christ, then I bring Him joy by comforting and encouraging with His love, and by being unified in spirit and purpose.

Unity is absolutely necessary for good spiritual health in the body of Christ. However, it is so hard to find, and then it can be so hard to keep. We are all so different. We come from different backgrounds. We are different ages. We have different likes and interests, ideas, and preferences. But it absolutely possible to be united without everyone being unanimous in a vote or in a decision. Being like-minded doesn't mean having the same opinion, but it does mean having the same attitude and the same purpose. We need a team-attitude. A team works together to accomplish the same goal. We work together to accomplish the Great Commission. Having the same love and being one in spirit and purpose brings unity. Even if we aren't always one in our opinions, being one in Christ means means we seek His will instead of our own. It means that we lay down any agenda, and seek to come together in His purpose.

Kate, my artist friend in Greece, creates mosaics. She uses different materials to create a work of art―colored glass, stones, ceramics, and many other things. The materials she uses are of all different sizes, colors, shapes, and of different substances. From all these unique materials with different consistencies she creates a beautiful masterpiece. Just as she creates a beautiful unified work of art , Jesus Christ can take our unique differences and create something beautiful in the church. Our unity can only come from being unified with Jesus. He is the cornerstone and our anchor. As long as we regard Jesus Christ as our anchor and our reason for being―as long as we realize that our treatment of each other is the way that we treat Christ―as long as we put Him and His love first before any of our own ideas or opinions, we can discover this unity of spirit that binds us together in His love. “We will speak the truth in love,” Paul writes, “growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16, NLT).

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hang On!

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, NIV).

The Lord promises He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He supplies all our needs. His grace is sufficient for whatever we face. If we draw close to Him, He will draw close to us. There are hundreds of divine promises in His Word! These promise are not dependent upon who we are or what we are. They are true for all His children. Sometimes, however, when we realize the cost of His calling upon our lives, we pull away from His abiding presence. When we pull away we forsake Him, and forsake His promises. All He desires is for us to surrender, to accept His will, and to persevere in our efforts to follow Him. Though we may fail at times in striving to accomplish His will
if our heart’s desire is to serve HimHis promises will be fulfilled. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, and He knows the areas we need to mature spiritually. When we are stretched for His sake, we will receive what He has promised.

Do you think that when Jesus called Peter to follow Him that He did not know his strengths and his weaknesses? God knew Peter. He knew that despite human weakness, Peter would discover His strength. If you feel weak and lacking in power, remember the Lord chose Peter knowing His potential―knowing that one day He would be filled with the Spirit and with power. God's choice of Peter is encouraging. Choosing a weak Peter to serve Him encourages us that, we too, can be used for God's service. Take heart. No matter what your struggle or your area of weakness, God knows your potential, too. He extends love and forgiveness along your lifetime of service so that you may achieve it. Peter, as a result of God's grace, forgiveness, and power, discovered spiritual maturity.

His divine power.” Peter writes, “ has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4). He has called you to serve Himnot because of who you are, but because of who He is. His divine power is available so that through Him, and through His precious promises, you may become more like Him. You can reach a level of spiritual maturity where you are effective and productive in your Christian walk (2 Peter 1:9). But you must “let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). Persevere! Hang on! Don't give up! Seek Him and abide in Him! When you have done His will, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36).



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rich in Grace and Purpose



For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means” (2 Corinthians 8:9-11).


Do you have a vision from God that you believe with all your heart? Is it something into which you have poured your heart and soul? Perhaps you not seen the work of your hands bring you closer to that vision. Perhaps you have become weary because of constant struggle to attain that vision. You were the one to whom God imparted the vision. You were the first to get it started. “Now finish the work” Paul writes, “according to your means.” You can only finish to the best of your ability according to what you have been given. God's perfect will is for the vision to be completed, but you can't make a vision happeneven from all you have done to inspire others to catch your vision. If you give the work your very best, God will do one of two things. He will bring it to completion with the support you have around you, or He will give you another means to achieve it. 
 

Don't ever forget that the vision does not belong to you. It belongs to Him. You are just a yielded vessel for Him to use for His purpose. His vision is fluid. It is not etched in concrete. You can have a mental picture of how a vision should pan out, but that is just your human conception. His thoughts are greater than yours, and His ways go beyond your human understanding. The vision He has imparted to you is only a part of His greater purpose. It is greater that you can ever imagine. He gives you a certain vision to be your focus and your goalto anchor you. Whatever He has imparted to you, realize He owns it. You are His steward who does what He directs, and you are His steward who never forgets that it all belongs to Him. You are not the only one with a vision from God. The visions that He imparts to His children are ultimately meant to bring us together in His ultimate purposeto prepare hearts for His return. You are part of God's greater plan. Do whatever you can to work toward your vision with whatever resources you have, and work with just as much enthusiastic purpose that you had when you first were inspired.


The sacrifice of Jesus Christ has made you rich in purpose. Although He could have had anythingalthough He had every powerful resource at His bidding―although He was perfectly God and without sin, He became poor for your sake. He humbled Himself, and gave His life as an offering for your sin so that you might be free and rich in grace. You know the sustaining power of His grace. Now believe in what He has given you. The vision He has imparted to you is just as rich as when it was first realized. Your life now is sacrificed to His purpose. When He is ready, you will know with certainty that you have completed what He inspired within your heart.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Heart to Obey

You have been called to a great work. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was called to a great work. The angel, Gabriel, came to her and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Mary trembled at the news, but she replied, “I am the Lord's servant.”
Mary had a heart to obey. She never walked away from God's calling. Don't walk away from what God has called you to do for the sake of time or personal need or even fear. He desires for you to know Him completelyto know fulfillment in your callingto have a pliable heartto experience the power of His presenceto receive what He has promised. The promise is realized when you allow Him to work in your life, and you give Him the gift of an obedient heart. What God has promised you is true, and He will bring it to pass in His time. Jesus is the reason for this Christmas season. Christ was born for you and me, and He died for us. It came at the greatest cost─His life for yours and mine─His pure life for our sinful one─His perfect love for our rejection─His pain for our stubbornness. And what will it cost us? A repentant, and obedient heartHis will instead of our own. 
 
Perhaps you were once wandering, longing to be used by the Lord, longing to be fulfilled in His purpose. The Holy Spirit opened a door, and you walked joyfully through it, and you now know the joy of His purpose and His promise. His will is your anchor which sustains through all the trials and hardships. Never let go of it. Perhaps you have made a decision about your life which has placed His will on the shelf. There is no joy in placing your desire before His calling. You will eventually experience loneliness and pain. At the time your decision might seem so right because your need seems so great, but you will learn later that you have lost what He has promised. Your greatest loss will be found in failing Him. Living your life for yourself instead of living it for Him, you will lose everything He wishes to teach you. He just longs to be in control of your life. He just wants your obedient heart. He longs for you to trust Him to bring about what He has promised. When you choose to be in control instead of allowing Him to lead and guide, you lose His presence in your life.
 
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Mary realized the omnipotence of a great God, and the importance of what He asked. She realized that He was higher in every way than she could ever be─that His purpose and vision in every way surpassed her own. If He has promised you something, allow Him to bring it to pass in His time. Give Him the gift of an obedient heart this Christmas. Give Him all of you. That special promise He has imparted to your heart will be fulfilled in His time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Never Alone


He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6b, NIV).


Christmas can be a lonely time for those who have lost a loved one. It can be a sad time for those who do not have a loving family. It can be a lonesome time for those who have no one in their lives to encourage them and offer hope. Even if you are in a loving church that brings joy to your life, Christmas can still be a sad time when those church friends gather with their own families. The season brings joy to so many, but it is also the time of year when so many feel deserted and alone. 
 

If you are someone who feels alone, you can experience an acceptance and love that brings joy to your life. You have the promise of the very best family. You can have one who is closer than a brother or a sister He is Jesus, the Savior. It you have asked Him into your heart, He is your family. The Lord will never leave you. He will never forsake you or abandon you. When it seems the rest of the world is too busy for you, He is not. When your own family does not love or accept you, He does. Your own father might have abandoned you, but Jesus never does. Your own father didn't choose you. You were born to be his child. God chooses you to be His child. He wants to adopt you into His family, and give you all the benefits of His love. You are worthy of His love that died just for you. Perhaps you haven't really experienced this kind of love that loves you unconditionallythat looks beyond your hurt and pain and sees forgiveness changing your heart. The promise of this love is so real and for the asking. Ask and reach out to Him. When you feel abandoned and rejected, you are not. He accepts you. When you feel accused, you are not. He declares you free of all charges. When you are depressed, He brings hope to your troubled mind. When you feel forsaken, you are never alone. He is your constant and abiding Savior. Give Him your broken heart, your troubled mind, and your lost life. When you cry out “heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14, NIV), He pours healing and peace into your life. You will know you are not alone.


If you are someone who has a loving family and friends, then share your Christmas with others who don't. Open your hearts and share the love of Christ with others who have no one this season. Love with the love He has given you. There is someone in your life that feels alone. There is someone who needs a touch from a loving hand. There is someone who needs to experience the words “He will never leave you or forsake you.” He extended mercy and grace to you. Extend His mercy and grace to those He brings into your life. Experience for yourself the joy of giving your life away for someone elseso that they might experience His love that sets them free.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mama's Christmas Wish

It is the first day of December, and Christmas will be here before we realize it. This will be our second Christmas without Mama. Life to Mama was all about loving and sharing, and Christmas was the time to “get that done”. Her family was her mission field, and so many others through life became her mission field, too. When I was a child, Christmas was an exciting time. My grandparents, Big Tom and Gigi, always came Christmas morning to share in the joy of the day. When I had children, we often went to Mama and Daddy's house in Georgia for a time with all of our family—my brother and his wife and two children and my sister would be there. Sometimes other people would come just to be a part of our family—friends that were lonely and needed love. God always brought those who had needs into Mama's life. As the years passed, Christmas remained the greatest time to love family and friends.

Christmas was a time to share the Christmas story, and learn about the miracle of the Christ child who was born to save us. Christmas was a time of games and music. We learned not to play Trivial Pursuits with Pat. He knew all the answers. We played fictionary and other games that took a lot of imagination. Often two folding tables would be set up in the family room, and different games would be going on at the same time. Laughter filled the room. My brother played the guitar, and we sang. The Hamptons always sang. When the house was full, some of the younger ones slept on a bed in the garage. There was always a place to sleep, and a place to share, and be loved. There was always a place of acceptance, and a place where you were inspired to be more than you thought you could be. There was always room.

Through the years Mama saw our potential, and inspired (PUSHED) us to achieve it. She believed in who we could be when we had little belief in ourselves. Even up to the time of her death, she always inspired and reminded us of our potential. Daddy had always taken her to church every Sunday, but in early December of 2012, she was unable to go anymore. Two weeks later I knew she needed to come home from Autumn Cove for a special Christmas Eve. It was a wonderful time. Mama prayed in her quivering voice. It was the last time she would come home. She would never leave Autumn Cove again.

This second Christmas for some reason seems to be a little harder than the last one. I still love her and miss her. I miss her laugh. I miss her look that said “you need to think that one through.” I miss the look that could see right through me. I miss watching Bonanza, Andy Griffith, and Matlock with her. I miss holding her hand, straightening her room, and hearing her say, “aren't you about ready to quit fussing so much?” I miss her loving concern for everyone in her life. A week before her death she was still asking staff at Autumn Cove about their families, and sharing her love with them.

Mama's greatest wishher last wish that Christmas she came homewas for us to love each other unconditionally, and for us to know her Savior. It was on her mind a lot before she passed. The greatest promise I have is that I will see her again. She probably has her family already organized in heavenwaiting for the rest of us to come.

I pray each one who has lost a loved one will remember the good times and the good memories. Bring the memory of who they were into your home this Christmas. Love your family completely and unconditionally. Mama prayed that her family would all know God's unfailing love through the love of Christ. Mama may be gone, but her legacy of love lives on in this last Christmas wish.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What I Feel or What I Believe


Do you feel alone sometimes and wonder where God is? “So do not fear,” God promises, “for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Even though you may feel deserted and alone, you are not! You can't trust your feelings. They will betray you. But you can trust what God says in His Word. He will not betray you. His truth is rock-solid, and unchanging. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). You may feel afraid. God says, “you don't have to be afraid, because I am your God.” You may feel evil battering you. God says, “I will deliver you from all evil.” Then He says something that will cost you something, but in the cost you will find greater faith. He says to look beyond your feelings and step our in faith. “Trust me,” He says, “and don't be afraid.”


Faith will cost you. It will cost you to trust in something that you cannot see or cannot feel (Hebrews 11:1). It will cost you to trust in God's truth over your feelings. Faith is a decision, and when it is made, feelings will one day fall in line with God's promise. That “one day” will come through training your mind, your heart, your very being to believe in God's Word instead of your feelings. It is a battle to be won. Finally on that “one day” you will discover it is easier to believe in God's Word rather than trust how you feel in a moment of time.


Step out in faith today, and give God a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Praise Him for the promise that His truth is greater than how you feel. Decide to believe in His faithfulness. “Trust me,” He says. “don't worry because I am your God. I will strengthen you, and uphold you. You are never alone.” You can trust in Him over everything else. What an incredible promise!

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Black Friday Like No Other


Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:30-31, NIV).

Today is what we call Black Friday. It is a day when I avoid the shopping centers. I have seen some of the worst behavior as people fight about whether they were first to find an item or not. Now not all people who shop on Black Friday are like this! They don't all push and shove and demand. But Black Friday is about “things”, and getting the best price. Although not always, Black Friday can end up being about the gift that we have “won” for someone else. Maybe we have had an opportunity to allow another shopper to have what we have found to buy, but have pursued our prize anyway. We have achieved our goal, fought the battle, faced the onslaught, and won the prize at the best price! Oh my! The truth is any day in our lives can be like this! It can be about what we can win and what we can achieve, and end up not being about others who are brought into our path. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have to be careful not to allow any day or any thought or anything to make us a part of the “me” generation.
 
What is your life saying? What is my life saying? Is it about me or about others? I don't want to be a part of the “me” generation. I want my heart to be broken for others. I want my life to make a difference. 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 drifting around with no focused reason for my existence. I would like to challenge each of us to examine our lives, our moments, our thoughts, and our actions. Is Jesus the reason for our existence? If He is our first love, we need to live it. James was explicit when he penned that "faith without works in dead". Likewise, James let us know that works without faith has little meaning. If we love Jesus, we should not be a “me” generation. We should be on the front lines for Jesus Christ―living a life that shares the greatest love rendered on one Black Friday in Jerusalem. It was the Black Friday when the Son of God took all the selfishness of my life to the cross. And three days later, it would no longer be about me. It would be about loving as He loved me.
 
So where are you now? Where am I? Jesus knows where we are. Are we ready to be truthful with Him? Are we really ready to examine our hearts? Are we ready to be a message for Him instead of a mess with no purpose? Let's be real with Him so we can be real with others. Today's Black Friday can be like no other! We can let someone else win the best prize at the best price. We can venture out―not to get the best price for ourselves, but to give the best prize to someone else. Have a blessed Black Friday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Morning Always Comes


Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5b, NIV).

Whatever my sorrow or my pain, it does not last forever. Whatever my despair or heartbreak, one day it will be over. The promise of His peace is real. The sadness I feel in the darkness anticipates His promise of peace to come. His strongest children are those who, in the night of weeping, confidently believe in the promise of joy in the morning.
 

I choose to walk in victory and not defeat. I choose to live with purpose and without hesitation. I believe Him above whatever else I may hear, and I trust in His promise whatever my eyes may see. Fixing my eyes unwaveringly upon Him and keeping my ears attuned to His voice, I trust His will for my life. I rejoice in His bountiful mercy and grace. I know He has overcome whatever I face.


He not only reigns in the morning, but He has been with me all through the night. Whether the weeping of the night or the rejoicing of the morning, I am never forsaken. If I abide in Him and remain in a lasting relationship with Him, He promises to abide and remain in a lasting relationship with me. Our relationship brings life. I only live because He lives. I know, without hesitation or doubt, that morning always comes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

He Brings to Delivery


He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NIV).

Job faced uncertainty, terrible hardship, and utter despair. Each one of us will also face hardships that spring up to rock our world. Sometimes we don't understand why God doesn't hear us and explain. Crying out in our despair, we yearn to hear from Him and for a promise of peace from the pain of each moment. The truth He does hear and speak to us, but our pain gets in the way. James tells us that we are to “consider it pure joy” when we go through trials because those trials have the potential to produce faith (James 1:2-4). Most of the time, I consider any trial in my life as a lesson, and look for the positive aspects that create greater faith. But sometimes life unexpectedly throws an overwhelming hardship at me that hangs on and hangs on to the point that I feel I am going under. During such a time as this, I long to hear something more than this trial will make my faith stronger. I need to believe that someday it will endthat one day there will be peace. Jesus said that we would have hardship in this world, but we can rest assured that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). In a moment that is too much, I need Him to overcome my world.

Years ago the Lord gave me a verse in Isaiah that encouraged my heart. “'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). The Lord always delivers from painin His perfect time. When the time for delivery has arrived, the Lord doesn't close up the womb! Release from the intense pain will come. The labor, with its pain before delivery, is my lesson to be learned. The intense joy that comes at my moment of delivery is the promise. He protects me from the pain that would be too much for me to handle-from the pain that would utterly destroy me. “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son” (Isaiah 66:7). What I may consider the most devastating pain is not as harsh as it might be. God has protected me. He has made my labor easier than it might have been, and has brought me to the point of delivery from it all.

My trial holds the promise of peace. The tribulation which overwhelms my heart promises release. “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). I shall be confident of His promise of peace. I will hang on and find His will. I shall believe that His promise is real, and that He will richly reward my diligence. During my time of labor I will discover His truths that will encourage my faith in Him, and trust that the delivery will come. I choose to believe that my weeping lasts for only a night, and that His joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5b). I choose to forget the former things, and believe in the promise He has for me (Isaiah 43:18-19). I choose to let go of the former things which have defined me, and believe with all my heart that He has something new for me.

God always knows the way that I take. He is always with me, and I will be delivered. He has not closed up the womb. In His refinement, I am remade in Himmolded as He wishes. Victorious over what might have have destroyed me, I will know that He has overcome my world with His peace. I shall come forth as gold.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Think Right!


For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 27:3, NASB).


Yesterday Brother Bill delivered a driving message on thinking right. I would like to share some points he made, and hope it will stir each one of us to consider the way we think. How we think determines how we feel. We can have a positive attitude that gives us an optimistic look on life or we can have a negative attitude that continually keeps us buried under a pile of emotional rubble. When something positive happens to a negative person, they find what is negative in it. When something negative happens to a positive person, they find something positive in it! This second kind of attitude speaks hope and life. If we want to live a joyful and abundant life―one that spills over with spontaneous faith, we must work to have a positive attitude.

Correct thinking is essential to living a joyful and victorious life in Christ. “Brothers and sisters,” Paul declared, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV). If we will keep our minds focused on God's truth―on whatever is godly, uplifting, and joyful, we will learn to have a positive attitude. To develop an optimistic spirit, we must be changed in the attitude of our minds (Ephesians 4:23). This takes perseverance and determination.

We must take responsibility for our own thinking. “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 10:5, NIV). It is impossible to stop the fiery darts that the enemy throws into our minds, but we can learn to make those thoughts be obedient to what the Word teaches. It is possible to have the power to bring them under the control of the Holy Spirit. This is learned when we practice the presence of God. Our minds are focused on Him, and not where our minds might lead us. This brings His peace in the midst of our storms (Isaiah 26:3).

We can't determine what happens to us, but we can determine what happens in us. There is no way we can control life or our circumstances, but we can learn to control what happens in our minds as a result. When we learn to take our negative thoughts captive, we change the way that we think. Not only are we able to say, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13), but we can believe without doubt that He will give us His strength. Facing our circumstances with faith that comes from a mind that has been transformed, we can live life with a positive and joyful attitude―able to determine God's good pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

If you and I will think right, talk right, do right, then we will feel right! If you are weak, then say you are strong (Joel 3:10). Cultivate your mind! Plow it up and rethink yourself. Don't dwell on the negative anymore. Allow the Word to transform your way of thinking. Determine to believe that Jesus Christ is greater in you than any negativity that rises in your mind. He can capture each thought and move that mountain of negativity. “Truly I tell you,” Jesus imparted, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, NIV).

It is never impossible to be changed in the attitude of your mind. When you surrender control and allow the Holy Spirit to change you from the inside out, you can get rid of what Brother Bill calls “stinkin' thinkin''! Be changed and renewed, and tell your negative mountain to move.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Suddenly

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, 'Lord, your dear friend is very sick.' But when Jesus heard about it he said, 'Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.'  So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days” (John 11:1,3-6, NLT).
As a Christian whatever happens in my lifesickness or problem or dangeris meant to bring glory to God. Jesus loves me just as He did Lazarus. He lingered in rescuing Lazarus just as He sometimes lingers in my life so that I might learn a lesson in the midst of hardship, or grow closer to Him through a time of illness or emotional struggle. He knows my trouble, and He comes when the time is right for deliverance and healing. Jesus also loves you just as much as His next child. He also loves the ones He died for and have not accepted Him into their lives. But because you and I believe in Him, He rescues us. He does not linger to punish us, but to bring greater purpose to our life.

Jesus gave directions to roll the stone away blocking Lazarus' tomb. Martha, Lazarus' sister, insisted that the smell would be too great because several days had passed. “Jesus responded, 'Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?'  So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, 'Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.' Then Jesus shouted, 'Lazarus, come out!' And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, 'Unwrap him and let him go!'” (John 11:40-44, NLT).
If you and I believe, we shall see the glory of God! Believe it, and watch your stone roll away. Don't despair in the midst of your illness or your struggle or your problem or your heartache. Appearance might say that there is no hope, but God plans to speak life. Praise Him for His faithfulness to you even when He lingers for your benefit (Hebrews 13:15). He calls forth your healing, your deliverance, and your promise when His time is perfect. He rescues you from what would kill your faith and your life. Suddenly, in a moment in time of God's bidding, the stone that has held you captive rolls away, and you walk forth out of the grave into His newness of life (Romans 6:1-4). No more bound by wrappings of death and destruction, you are new; you are whole; you are healed, and free in His love!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Complete Me


"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you" (Romans 12:1-2).

I place my life before God today as an offering, and I fix all my attention on Him. As this days unfolds, I embrace all He has for me. I face this day with the anticipation of His guidance, and also with the promise of His strength for what lies ahead. All I want is Him to mold me and change me from the inside out. I want to be renewed in my heart and mind, and open to all He wishes to pour into my life. Like a sponge I want to absorb all of Him so that I might grow in His grace, and for Him to complete the work He wishes to finish in me.

Without spiritual maturity my life will have no emotional and mental stability. I will be like a ship on the sea with no anchor to hold it fast. Subject to every circumstance that arises, I will be tossed in the storms of life with no lasting peace. My mind will be so self-absorbed on what I face that my life will have no purpose but worry and fear. But if I will fix my attention on God instead of my circumstance, I will be changed from the inside out. He will rescue me from the drowning waters of my own making, and set me on His rock-solid foundation of truth. I will recognize the lesson He teaches, and respond to it without hesitation. His peace will carry me safely through the storms that always come. His joy will spring up like a fountain always offering a fresh perspective. His strength and power will always be there to rise above any circumstance or temptation. I will not be pulled back down to a level of immaturity that will ultimately destroy the life I have found in Him.

He is the potter, and I am His clay to shape as He wishes. He is the fire in the kiln of life which refines me. God helping me, I place my life in His hands to be created―for Him to complete the work He wishes to finish in me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

HIs Truth Sets Me Free


“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, NIV).

To spiritually understand the depth and power of the grace of Jesus Christ, faith needs to grow in my life. For faith to grow, the seed of God's Word must first be planted, then nourished through study and prayer. As knowledge of His grace grows into greater faith, I am able to put down deep-seated roots that will anchor me. I can choose to believe that His grace is more powerful than all my insufficiency. Christ didn't save in my perfection. He saved me in my brokenness. I must sacrifice my will and desires and seek His. As I grow in His grace, the power of that grace increases. When I yield my brokenness, my weakness, and myself to Him daily, I discover that in Him all things are possible. He takes whatever battle rages to the grave, and continually imparts His grace to stand strong.

I will always face temptation, but it is what I do with that temptation which reveals if I have died to self-will. It is what I do that reveals my allegiance. If I succumb to sin from which I have been saved, I break my relationship with God which gives me the power to stand strong. His grace will not empower me. But this verse in John tells me that knowledge of the Word of God sets me free (John 8:32)! This is what I desire..... to know His grace that gives me freedom from sin's ability to control my life!

Perhaps I haven’t experienced the freedom from sin's control because mind-over-matter doesn’t work. Only spiritual knowledge and the grace of God has the ability to release me. Spiritual knowledge of God's Word imparts wisdom. James says about wisdom, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:5-8, NIV). His wisdom is necessary for spiritual growth. As I seek to know the Word, I identify with the Word, and experience its wisdom. Faith increases, and temptation loses its grasp. But I must not doubt! I choose to believe that His ability is greater than my failure.

I want to be stable, rock-solid, consistent, and anchored in His grace. I want to continually offer the grace of Jesus Christ when something happens which can cause anger, hurt, bitterness, jealousy, or unforgiveness. I want to be controlled by His power, and not controlled by my lack of self-control. Each day I will open my mind and spirit to the grace Jesus reveals in His Word. The power to set me free lies within its pages. The Word just waits for me to discover its promise.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Allow Me


In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV).

It is time to end your frantic pace," He speaks to my restless spirit. "Quit struggling and calm your impatient heart. Quit planning and analyzing. Don't rush my time with you. Give me your mind and your thoughts. Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Wait for me in your quiet time, and I will come. Wait until my power fills you.

“In your quiet time with me, your strength will return. So many believe that my strength is only seen in action. My greatest strength is given to you in your quiet time with me. In these times of refreshing you find confidence and strength to rise up to face your giants. This confidence and strength you discover will carry you powerfully into the heat of battle....BUT only if you allow me to bear the weight of command. If I am in control of your battles, your peace will remain. You will know that I am God, and that I take care of every problem and struggle that arises. The moment you attempt to control what is not yours to control, you will lose your peace.

You remember that thing you asked me to handle? Will you now finally quit trying to control it? Your attempt at control is destroying your peace. I promise peace. I give rest. Take time for me. Find rest and know that I am your God. Resting in me brings you power to believe. And it also gives you the strength to let go. Allow me to take care of what you were never meant to handle. Believe that I will handle it, and that you are free to be my beloved child. In quietness and trust, you receive all of me to face all of your giants. Allow me” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FOLLOW HIM

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple”
(Luke 14:27).

There is a huge difference between being an admirer of Jesus Christ and being His disciple. An admirer wants to experience the glory without making a commitment. He desires the fruit in his life without abiding in the Master. But a disciple is a pupil who has counted the cost and placed himself completely under the guidance of the Master—whose love for Him is greater than for anyone or anything else, and who resolves to give and also give up whatever is necessary.

Jesus’ words in Luke are not addressed to His disciples. Each disciple has already counted the cost, and made a decision to surrender. His question is directed to those who offer quickly to serve, and then fade away like a shooting star. It is to this marginal person Jesus says, “If you can’t do what it takes, you can’t be my disciple.”

To witness the enthusiasm of a new believer is exciting, but often such enthusiasm does not weigh the cost involved. “I will follow you anywhere,” someone quickly offers Jesus (Luke 9:57). This man is a new believer, and is fired up to go. He opens his mouth to speak without thinking of what his offer entails. In the very next verse Jesus carefully handles the man’s zeal without offending him by telling him that his future is uncertain. They are wanderers, and there is nowhere to rest at night. Jesus knows that this man has a shallow faith that will not stand up under pressure.

Jesus searches the group and His eyes rest on another man. “Follow me,” he says (Luke 9:59). The man asks Jesus to first let him first bury his father. Jesus uses what this man says to teach him the spiritual significance of what following Him means. He tells this man there is no hope for salvation for someone who is already dead, and that his obligations are nothing compared to the call upon his life (Luke 9:60). Time is of the essence, and he must be about the Father’s work. Jesus has looked upon this man’s heart and has seen great potential. He knows that this man can be used to bring life to those who are spiritually deadif he will say yes.

A third man quickly offers to go with Jesus, but asks the Lord to first let him go and tell his family farewell. “Any person who starts doing something and then keeps looking back is not fit for the kingdom of God,” Jesus warns (Luke 9:62). God delivered Lot’s family before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and warned them not to look back. Longing for what she had left behind, Lot’s wife glanced back for one moment, and was turned into stone. When you follow Jesus the old is destroyed in your life. Looking back will only turn Jesus' call in your life into stone. God cannot use people who allow their old lifestyle to keep pulling them back. But He does use people with a commitment and a vision like Abraham. Abraham stepped out in faith, followed God on a journey of a lifetime, and never looked back at Ur. He never built a permanent house again, but lived in tents, and moved when God told him.

The third man in Luke, just as the first one, is not fit for the journey. I find it interesting that the second man, unlike the first and third, did not offer to follow Jesus. He was asked. This man had not spoken a desire to follow, but Jesus instinctively knew that if he would make the sacrifice and say yes, his life would make a difference in the kingdom of God. Jesus asks us, just as he did the second man, to leave self behind, take up His cross, and follow Him. These requirements don’t attract a large number of followers, but for those who follow and stay the course, the result of such a decision is guaranteed. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). Are you willing, just like Abraham to let everything go, and step out in faith to follow Jesus wherever He calls and to do whatever He calls you to do? I have a friend who left her life behind, and is following Jesus on a journey of a lifetime in Haiti. Whatever He asks, say yes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

His Perfected Love


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

There is no perfect earthly love. Earthly love changes with circumstance and changes with feeling. But there is a perfect spiritual love which conquers fear, and lives in faith that God will take care of anything that comes against it. This perfect love carries me safely through all of life's struggles and heartaches. It never deserts me, and it never changes. When this spiritual love is perfected in my life, it brings greater faith to believe in the impossible. What is this perfect love? It is the love of God who gave His son, Jesus Christ, for me. If that is beyond my human capacity to understand, it is suppose to be. I can't understand such a perfect love with my mind. It is useless to try to analyze it. My mind can't fathom this depth of sacrificial love, but my heart and soul can receive it. 


The only way to receive this perfect love that conquers fear is to allow Christ into my heart. He loved me enough to die for my sin so I might be set free from its control over me. He, who was perfect and knew so sin, became sin, so it might be crucified forever it my life and I might receive His perfect love.
Fear can only be defeated with His perfect love living in me. When I let go of what is imperfect in me, I receive His love which washes away all that I have been so I may receive all that He is. With His perfect love in my life CONTINUALLY CHANGING ME, His love becomes stronger in me and perfects me. Only His perfected love in my life can drive out fear, and give me faith to believe. If I remain rooted in His love and growing in His grace, perseverance will finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything (James 1:4). I will be strong enough to choose faith over fear.


If I am dealing with great fear, then His love has not been perfected in me. My mind has been focused on my struggles, and my feelings have pulled me away from His promised fullness of life. The Lord will keep me in His perfect peace only when my mind remains on Him instead of any circumstance (Isaiah 26:3). I cannot grow stronger on what I “feel”. I can only become stronger on what “I know”. Today I rejoice in the promise that His perfect love drives out all fear. It truly does drive it out....as His love is continually perfected in me. That is my promise and that is my journey―to be perfected by the Lord who gave all of His life for me.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

His Power Overcomes Weakness


My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

The more I think about His lovethe more I seek His truththe more I allow His love and truth to impact my lifethe less I am like me, and the more I become like Him. The closer I grow in my relationship with Him, the more I am aware of my lack of power to live a life that honors Him. The desire is there, but often His standard makes my own effort seem like a failure. The sense of my own inadequacy reveals that I need to surrender more of my life to His life-changing power. It is what I do with that sense of failure that makes the difference in my life. If I allow my failure to define who I am, then I will remain weak, defeated, and a failure. But if I yield that failure to His refining process, my weakness is taken over by His strength. His power changes and perfects my life. I grow stronger in my relationship with Him. The failure which has once defined and defeated my life, is surrendered to His power. He controls what I am unable to control.

Without God's standard to meet in my life, I will not have a sense of failure. I will not have conviction that changes me. However, it is when I am growing in my relationship with Christ and seeking Him, that His standard convicts my life. A sense of failure can inspire me instead of defeat me. When I realize my weakness, I know that I need His power. Instead of wallowing in my sense of failure and running from His grace, I keep seeking more of Him. I learn that His grace is greater than any failure or sin. His grace changes my life. Living in His strength becomes easier as time passes. His power overcomes my weakness. Instead of failure, I learn spiritual growth.

Are you tired of failure defining who you are? Be committed and be diligent to seek Him and grow in His grace. “Let perseverance finish its work,” James writes, “so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4, NIV).




Friday, November 14, 2014

Ask and Forgive in Love

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).

Do you hurt over something that you feel a friend has done to you? Are you convinced it was intentional? Perhaps it wasn't, and the enemy has convinced you that it was. Whether intentional or not, you hurt because of it. Don't allow anger and bitterness to fester and grow. Don't harden your heart, and close the door to the Holy Spirit. Go in the love of Jesus to the the person who you feel has wronged you, and ask them about it. Satan would love for you to isolate yourself in your pain and feelings of rejection. He would love for you to harden your heart, and he would love to convince you that your friend doesn't care about you. If you close the door of your heart, and do not go to your friend in love, your heart will grow harder. If your friend has loved you for a very long time, it is a good possibility that what has happened was not intentional, and your friend might not even be aware of what is going on. It is the enemy's purpose to divide the body of Christ....to tear apart what the Holy Spirit is trying to build. Satan's purpose is to destroy your relationships and your life. Don't let him erect walls that imprison you. Fight the enemy with the freedom of the Holy Spirit. Be free to ask why. Be free to seek answers. Be free from the bondage of anger and hurt that isolates.
Ask your friend about what has hurt you. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Let them know how you feel in love. Don't accuse. Ask. If you put someone on the defensive, they will not be open to listen to your concerns. Anger may rise up. But if you go in the love of Christ, and listen with an open heart, constructive healing can begin. Understanding can set both of you free. You may even discover another reason for what has happened...one that you had not even considered. If you go in love, your friend, who may not have even realized what an action or a word did to you, will most likely turn to you, and ask for your forgiveness.
Above all....forgive. Forgive this friend for hurting you. Allow forgiveness to set you free from the bondage of anger and pain. The Lord will remove that stony heart which has been cold from pain and isolation, and will give you a heart that is pliable and soft in His hand. Once opened your heart will rejoice in its freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Allow Him to flow always and keep you open. God will bring continuous victory, and the enemy will be forever defeated. You will be like a well-watered garden in the dry places of life.... full of the life and fruit of the Holy Spirit.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Practice His Presence

Prayer is nothing else than a sense of God’s presence” (Brother Lawrence).

In the midst of crisis or change, Christ is with me. In the midst of the storm, He is my safe harbor. He keeps me from the breakers that would crush me. But He is more than just a secure sanctuary. He is my strength to not only endure, but to overcome. I can never fear change when He never changes. He is the one great constant in my life–the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). As I give Him my fearful heart, His peace calms my restless spirit (Philippians 4:6-7). Abiding in Him, He claims my thoughts and I discover that I, too, can be strong. I can be steadfast and unchanging. I can know His peace that carries me through the hardships of life.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life must be practiced. I need to seek Him daily in prayer until His presence becomes like a habit–unconsciously rendered. I unconsciously learn to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He is just “there” at the moment I need Him. He is just “there” in moments of sudden fear when, without Him, my world would cave. But practicing His presence has brought His immediate peace in that moment. My heart has prayed unconsciously and He has heard its cry.

I don’t know always know how to give Him my suffering and fear, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me (Romans 8:26). He prays my heart’s cry when I am unable to mentally render a thought. It is in a moment like this that I understand His peace. I have practiced His presence until He is always with me–unconsciously and consciously. I may go through my busy day with no problem, and my conscious mind is busy with my schedule and my list. Suddenly I hear something that shatters my world, and the Holy Spirit immediately arises from the depth of my unconscious spirit to calm my mind. Practicing His presence has brought His peace.

Do you have that sense of God's presence? He is right there with you speaking peace in the midst of your storm, but you may not realize it. If you will pray and practice His presence everyday, He will go with you consciously and unconsciously through the days of your life rendering peace for the hardships of life, and joy for the times you need encouragement. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV). You are never alone. Practicing His presence brings His presence.




KNOWING JESUS

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