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Monday, March 31, 2014

I AM HIS BELOVED

 
There is a saying that confession is good for the soul. Surely that comes from James 5:16. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Confession is good for the soul because it releases the spiritual burden of sin to Christ. It also releases the emotional and mental burden of sin to the person to whom you confess. Paul wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). When such a hard burden of guilt is released, then there is spiritual openness, and freedom makes healing possible. Righteousness is the gift of the Lord, and prayer does accomplish much. It accomplishes miracles in the name of God.
 
III John 2 reads, Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” I am special to Jesus Christ. He calls me, “Beloved!” He died for me so I might discover wholeness for my body, mind, and spirit. He wishes me to prosper and to be in good health. He does not wish me to suffer, and have illness. His loved me enough to give His life for so that I might be healed. He sacrificed his life so that I might receive continually through faith. There is no greater love––that someone who had no sin in His life would willingly take mine, and give His life unselfishly for me.
 
What does such a great love wish for me to receive? His love and truth, and its reality alive and well in my life. To receive continually through faith, I must grow spiritually. “Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). As I prosper spiritually, studying His Word and applying the lesson, might faith for the healing of body, mind, and spirit be easier? Might the truth of the message be more real because I have put down a foundation in Him?
 
My mind, body, and spirit all answer “YES”! My heart rejoices because I realize that I have learned another lesson in this walk with the Lord. He trains me in the way that I should go so that when I am finished on that last day, I will be refined as gold (Job 23:10). His sanctifying refinement liberates me to believe in what human eyes say is not true. His report is always good. I will always seek Him and find the lesson, realizing that God can turn a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) into a time of spiritual, physical, and emotional victory. Even though the battle might still rage, it still has been won through faith. I am more than an over-comer in Christ. I am His beloved.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

HIs Grace is Greater

His Grace is Greater
 
The life-changing power of the Holy Spirit is the only way to experience release from any stronghold that plagues your life. God desires your obedience to seek Him and His Word. Paul writes, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:4). Sin is a stronghold, but the power to annihilate it is found in the Word.
 
 
Admit that you struggle with your strongholdthat it is really sin, and you are powerless to defeat it on your own. “I know that nothing good lives in me,” Paul exhorts, “that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19). Paul later in the same chapter praises God for the gift of Jesus Christ, and for the promise of His deliverance. Until you accept the fact you have no control over that stronghold, there is no hope. When you finally admit you are powerless to change on your own, then you are ready for His help. 
 
 
There is the promise of deliverance. As sin’s hold tightens, Christ’s grace abounds even more (Romans 5:20b). To experience freedom one must understand the power found in Jesus Christ. To understand the power found in Christ, you must have spiritual knowledge of the Word. Knowledge of the Word of God liberates (John 8:32). As you grow in the Word, you experience faith, and sin’s control lessens. As the power of grace increases, spiritual wisdom renders the ability to deny that stronghold's power in your life.
 
Here is a Scriptural truth! Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Not only should you confess your sin to God, you should confess to a mature Christian that you trust implicitly: perhaps your pastor or Bible teacher. This is a hard task, and calls for your willingness to be vulnerable not only to the Lord, but to another. This kind of openness reveals the level of your faith in the Lord. With confession and repentance of your sin, you can experience a new spiritual cleansing depth of God's forgiveness, and healing can begin.
 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Still Myself


This morning I still my heart and mind in order to hear His voice. I must still my senses before I can ready myself for His presence. My physical senses of hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling are how I communicate with the world around me. They are necessary to understand my physical life here on earth, but when I communicate with the Spirit of my Lord, they can be a hindrance.

If I do not still my physical senses to all that surrounds me, I can not reach that place where He becomes the author of what my spirit receives. What Jesus said about some people having to learn through parables will be true in my life. “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving” (Matthew 13:14b). My earthly senses cannot perceive the spiritual. Jesus then said to His disciples, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16). He did not speak of their physical eyes and ears. He spoke of their spiritual ability to perceive what physical senses could never grasp‒to spiritually hear His voice, to see what physical eyes were incapable of seeing, and ultimately to understand with the heart.

Be still and know that I am God” takes on a whole new meaning this morning.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Tongue

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:3-6, NIV).

A horse can be guided by a small thing... a bit in its mouth. A ship can be steered by a small thing...a rudder which can move its large bulk easily and freely. Small things make a difference in the larger scheme of life. The tongue is a small, but potent thing. Although small it can destroy a life or build a life. It can speak hope or it can speak destruction. James compares it to a spark which can start a great forest fire. Your tongue can be a small, but powerful tool. Having control over your tongue is the only way to be an effective and life-changing servant of Jesus Christ.

There is a great problem. No one can truly tame his own tongue. The only way to tame the human tongue is the power of the Holy Spirit. You need His power to temper your tongue and give your His wisdom. Are you like me and have said anything you have deeply regretted ? In reading James 3, I asked God to show me His truth about the tongue. These are some things I found.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16, NIV). Two things are mentioned twice in this passage...envy and selfish ambition. Whether praying for someone or sharing a scripture, if there is any envy or selfish ambition in what we are saying, it is not of God. James goes on to reveal some powerful forces behind envy and selfish ambition: influences which are demonic, unspiritual, and evil. This should be enough to stop us in our tracks and make us consider if what we are about to say comes from envy or from the need for recognition? If yes, then we should hold your tongue.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:17-18, NIV). We need to always ask ourselves. Is what I'm about to say pure (clear with no confusion)? Is it peaceful and considerate of another one's feelings? Is it willing to yield to God's control?  Is it merciful? Is it edifying? Is it honest and sincere and free of any hypocrisy?

Things spoken from envy and selfish ambition can cause a great fire and destroy God's purpose. Things spoken with the wisdom that comes from God will edify and reap a great harvest. It is my choice to yield to the Holy Spirit and receive God's wisdom. It is my choice to speak life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Joy of the Lord


"Well done, thou good and faithful servant ... enter into the joy of thy Lord."  Matthew 25:21

The quiet one who serves and seeks no reward–the one who humbly washes feet–the one who unobtrusively loves and helps others–these are ones who are often passed by and go unnoticed. These words in Matthew 25:21 are whispered to you. They are spoken to you who carry your cross faithfully with little recognition, and serve Him no matter what your circumstances. They are spoken to you, who no matter what you quietly face, have His joyful assurance.

These words are not only for the end of our human existence when you face Him face to face. No. They speak of entering into His presence now. You enter a life of deeper spiritual existence in Him. Serving Him with no need for anything else than just to serve Him, brings you into a fuller life in His Spirit. Others may not see your humble commitment, your patient heart, and your quiet service, but He sees it. Your reward might not be recognition or wealth, but it is so much greater, and it is yours. It is His joy.

It is His joy complete with its abundant peace. It is His joy that brings a deeply spiritual exhilaration of confidence when faced with pain and suffering. It is His joy that no one can take away from you. His joy is the result of a deeper spiritual existence that comes through a quietly sacrificed and obedient life. It comes as a result of pain and suffering that has been courageously faced. If He is your strength and courage through times of suffering, then, in time, His joy becomes your greatest reward. Entering into the joy of the Lord now is entering into life with Him here on earth. One day your life here will be completed in heaven, and you will know Him as He has always known you. That will be joy unspeakable and full of glory.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Victory in the Valley-My Mountain-Top Joy

Life is filled with valleys. Suffering, fear of the unknown, and hardship are inevitable in life. Without the grace of Jesus I could not sustain the trials of life. The valley reveals how much of His strength I have allowed in my life, and it reveals whether I shall fail or make it. It is in the valley where I discover who I really am and who He really is. It is in the valley I discover His victory that carries me to the mountain-heights of joy.

In the valley—in the midst of the trial, I can become weary and anxious when I don’t know what is next. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul wrote, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6:7). I pray with thanksgiving in my heart knowing that God is in control. No matter what my human mind perceives I believe in His abiding presence, His encompassing power, and the depth of His love for me. I don't worry about anything because I petition and give that problem to God. Is He not also able to handle any problem? Thanking the Lord for His provision reveals faith, and brings His peace. The promise is clear. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Sometimes I make the valley more difficult by not applying my “mustard seed” of faith in the midst of the struggle. Without applying faith, I not only fail myself, I fail God (Hebrews 11:6). When I I try to humanly analyze “why”, I miss the peace of God. I miss His infinite grace which is meant to lift me above the trial. My mind can only be guarded from fear of the unknown when I thank God for His faithfulness, and when my mind dwells upon His infinite ability instead of my trial (Isaiah 26:3).

Dear Lord, I am willing to face the unknown with hope in your faithfulness to me. I will learn the spiritual lesson you wish to impart. I will seek you everyday and discover your burden is much lighter when I focus on you instead of what I fear. When I give you my trial, my fear, my pain, my struggle‒by letting it go in prayer and faith‒supernatural peace will claim my mind and heart. It is a peace that nothing in this world can offer, and it can only be found through the struggles of life. It is a gift from you to lighten my load. Lord, I don't believe that I am just meant to survive in the valley. I flourish because you have poured living water into what might have otherwise been a desert. You rule in my heart, Lord, and my valley becomes my place of victory. My victory has been secured only with my surrender, and with your power and grace. My victory in the valley is my mountain-top joy which will last because it has been gloriously fought for and won.

Amen.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pray Without Ceasing


I bought a coffee mug at Cracker Barrell a few years ago because of the message printed on it. “Life is fragile. Handle it with prayer.” The clincher is the verse at the bottom which instructs me to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV).

How can I possibly pray continually through the day when I have other things that I need to do–like a job or to take care of others? Is it possible? Yes, it is. Because “praying without ceasing” is a state of mind and a state of spirit. The state of my mind determines the state of my spirit. If I am yielded to Him, then my mind is also yielded, and my spirit is willing.

“Praying without ceasing” is not going through my day just praying and praying and not taking care of the responsibilities God has given me. It happens when my will (my mind) has been yielded to His will. My mind has surrendered and has determined to be in a state of anticipated prayer. My spirit is surrendered to His Spirit, and it is ready at the moment His spirit within me calls to prayer. When He wishes me to pray, I am at His immediate call. My spirit rests in a state of anticipated prayer because I have surrendered my mind and my will.

Life is fragile. I am constantly reminded of this fact. Friends and family pass away. Accidents happen. Sickness comes. Suffering comes. Heartbreak comes. But He tells me to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). He wants me to knows that in the fragility of this life, He is the only constant. No matter what is faced, I will rejoice, and I will pray continually, and give thanks no matter what comes, because it is His will. But to me it is more than just His will. It is His promise of peace. Whatever I face, if I have surrendered it all to Him, through a yielded praying heart, then His peace will rule. (Philippians 4:6-7). And the desire to be on call for prayer will also rule in my heart. Because I shall have experienced the miracle of His spirit praying through me (Romans 8:26).

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Life in the Vine

         Is Jesus my reason for living, or does He stand on the other side of the door waiting to be invited inside? Do I believe that I am just fine, when perhaps I am really dying on the vine? When I believe that I am just where I need to be in my relationship with Him, then I am dying on the vine. 
 
“I am the vine; you are the branches,” Jesus speaks. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John: 15:5-8).
 
He is the vine, and I am the branch. If I seek Him and daily yield my heart to Him, my life will overflow with His purpose and His power. If I don't, I will fail. If I don't, there will be no direction. I I don't seek His heart, my existence is only that. Just existence. But if He is the heartbeat of my life, His Spirit brings life-giving power and strength to accomplish what otherwise seems impossible.
 
If I bring a heart surrendered to God’s purpose, then I reap His sufficiency instead my own. However, a heart that believes it has surrendered to Christ, but has not, is a heart that doesn’t realize it has its own agenda. If I bring such selfishness to ministry, I am impotent and purposeless. Instead of bringing life, I bring death. I become a branch that is picked up and thrown into the fire. 
 
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener,” Jesus teaches. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2). I don't want to be a branch that is cut off because it bears no fruit. I want to be a branch which bears fruit, and is willing to be pruned in order to bear more. It may hurt, but it is for His best and my best. “Those whom I love,” Jesus implores, “I rebuke and discipline” (Revelations 3:19a). When I bring a surrendered heart, I bring one that is easily rebuked and disciplined. It is not hardened or self-sufficient. When I am willing to listen to His voice instead of my own, I have invited Him to come in and change me. I have become a fruitful vine.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Accountability

Who left the wet towels on the bathroom floor?” I once asked my nine year old son.

“She did,” he said pointing at his indignant little sister.

“What!” she exclaimed. “I didn't!”

I never really found out who left the towels on the floor, but I did discover something with my children. As children of God we often act the same way. We refuse to be accountable for our actions.
If accountability is necessary for society to operate in a civilized manner, consider how much more essential it is necessary for Christians. No one escapes accountability. In one way or another, we are accountable. A good example is the fact that laws exist in our country that we must obey, and if we break them, we face the consequences. As Christians we have standards that God sets for our actions, and if we break those, there are consequences. Accountability is accepting responsibility for your actions. 

The Bible says that God holds us accountable. "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Personal accountability for my actions is not an option. Knowing the Word is necessary to live a good Christian life. How I live it is something for which I will answer. Christians are also accountable to one another. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes that as Christians we are all part of the same body. We all belong to the body of Christ. Each one of us needs or belongs to each other. This Scripture reveals the importance of accountability between fellow Christians. It is important to have at least one other person in which to confide. Someone to pray with, and listen to you are necessary in the Christian walk.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Confession to another is good for the soul. This is accountability that opens your spirit to His liberating healing of all that binds you. It is accountability to God that sets you free.

Why Jesus?


Many years ago I heard a pastor say in a Bible study class that Jesus is not the only way to come to know God. I wondered at the time how, as a Christian pastor, he could not believe this verse in John. “Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6, NIV).

Why is it important for me to believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth and the only life. The most obvious reason is because my salvation, and therefore my eternal destiny, depends upon my faith in this truth. But after salvation, Christ still is meant to change my life. For one thing, knowing Jesus leads to a deeper understanding of the Father. Since Jesus is both God and man, He is uniquely qualified to provide me with such insight. As we study His life, the aspects of God's character and ways that are difficult for our human minds to grasp come to life through Christ's teaching and example.

Jesus shows me who I can be in Him. The Lord is committed to transforming me into the into the likeness of His Son. Though I won't reach perfection in this life or ever become “perfect” like Him, my life should be changed as I yield to the Holy Spirit. The person I was once should be no longer. He is my example to reach for godly attitudes, words, and actions. Do I live my life in such a way that honors Him, or have I failed Him by not allowing Him to change my life? He loved me enough to die for me.... how can I not become the person that He longs for me to be?

Well, back to my initial story. Easter week comes at my church, and each morning a different visiting pastor conducts the service. One morning a visiting pastor stood in my pastor's pulpit, and preached that Jesus was the only way, the only truth, and the only life. Then he asked for those who believed this to raise their hands. My pastor was the only one who didn't raise His hand.

What a sad statement! A man of God, who once believed in the precious sacrifice of Jesus had lost his faith. He believed in”anything” over Jesus Christ. I know in whom I believe, and know that He is able to keep me safe until the day of His returning.

Do you know Jesus?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CHOOSE HIS FAITHFULNESS


"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV).

Don't fear. Don’t allow it in your heart. It is evil, and destroys all hope. Fear can’t live where His love and faith abound. “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).

“Fear has to do with punishment.” Guilt produces fear. Sin produces fear. Worry produces fear. Fear is the blight of this imperfect the world. There is fear of illness, of poverty, of loneliness, and of devastation. Fear runs rampant. But His perfect love drives out fear. His perfect love forgives and drives out the blame of sin. Faith springs up because the one who has forgiven has the power to make all things new within his heart. 

This world lives in fear. You are perfected in His love, and do not need to live in fear. Fight it. Refuse to allow it into your heart. God has not given you a spirit of fear. He has given you power, and with His perfect love, a sound mind that can stand against fear. Choose to believe that your God is greater, more powerful, and able than any fear that arises. Choose to believe God. Choose to believe His faithfulness even when fear has you so devastated you cannot grasp the hope of His promise. Choose and one day the fear that tries each day to destroy you..... will be gone. He will have overcome because you chosen faith in Him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If I Seek I Will Know


When I have a question I believe needs to be answered right away, how do I respond when I have to wait for the answer? Consider Habakkuk, and his need for an answer from God. Habakkuk waited for God’s answer. He stood firm, and believed He would hear. God didn't immediately give the answer Habakkuk desired, but what He told Habakkuk, speaks of the faithfulness of a God who is never late. “Though the answer may linger,” God said, “wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3, NIV). Habakkuk stood firm, and declared he would not move until He had heard from God. He did not stand in an attitude of his right to have an answer, but one of humility in the awareness of God’s faithfulness. Having brought his question to God, he believed He would hear. He stood, and he waited. He did not struggle for an answer. He waited, and knew God's promise that an answer would come in God's time.

How do I “wait” for the answer of God's will for my life? Do I wait like Habakkuk for my answer? Do I wait in anticipation of His answer? Do I trust in His faithfulness even though I don't understand the delay? I may be frustrated like Habakkuk, but I know God is faithful, and I take my frustration to Him just as Habakkuk did. I let God have it, and I take no action until I hear from God. In honesty, I boldly come before Him and seek my answer (Hebrews 4:16). When I am broken and spilled out in my heart for Him, I know His will, because I yearn with all my heart to be in His will. When I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and I am transformed and seeking His will, I discover it without struggling (Romans 12:1-2). If I yearn for His desires to be my desires, I am absolutely willing to surrender my personal desires for His. I am willing to wait as long as necessary for His will or His promise to come into being. I am willing to believe in that promise even if that promise doesn't come into my sight (Hebrews 11:6). Do I sometimes get so focused on what God's will is for my life that I miss the truth that the spiritual growth I receive in seeking Him, is actually His will for me right now? If He is the focus of all my desire, and not His will, then I will know His will. I find His will, and I am in His will when I seek Him.

Habakkuk felt He has been pushed to His limit. His heart broke for a world disintegrating around him. He longed to understand why evil existed, and always appeared to win. Habakkuk boldly brought his complaint to God, and then waited for God’s answer. He waited with a heart that knew God would answer. He humbly refused to give up, but he didn't struggle. God’s answer and the promise it offers is timeless. “Though the answer may linger,” God said, “wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay.” I will seek the Lord with all my heart. I will wait patiently for His direction. I will not try to figure the answer out for myself. In all I do, I will put Him first. He will direct my steps. And I will find myself in His will (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spiritually Counting the Cost


“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 worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-8a, 10-12, 13b-14, NIV). 
 
This is a powerful statement from Paul! He longed to be sold out to Jesus. He didn't care what that sacrifice cost, because His Savior had paid the greatest price. He never once forgot that living his faith was all about Christ. Paul knew the cost of absolute surrender.

We begin our Christian life called out of love for our Savior. Our hearts initially burn with joyful amazement at the magnitude of what God has started only to find along the way that our inability to surrender control to the Lord chokes out His spiritual life. There are some things we should never forget. Never forget that we have no purpose without Him. Never forget the costly price He paid for our love. Never forget so pride will not be an issue. Pride exists without our surrender. We are called to have a servant’s heart, and we are certainly no higher or better than those we serve. If a person feels the need to speak of his humility, then pride is really an issue. True humility is a powerful tool. It reveals that spiritual power in a believer’s life has been placed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul found it in absolute surrender. We can find it too.

Paul knew that the cost of living the Christian life should only be counted spiritually. There is a great danger in humanly counting the cost of commitment. Analyzing too much about what you believe is personally required can cause you to retreat from the depth of inward commitment necessary. Too little commitment and your desire to live for Jesus fades away. However, there is power in spiritually counting the cost. When the price of commitment is spiritually counted and the cost is absolute surrender to Jesus Christ, then biblical paradoxes take on new spiritual depth. Servitude brings greatness. Weakness brings strength. To live is to die, and to die is to live. Paul experienced these in his life. They are also what we receive when we are sold out to Christ.

Your life in Christ requires surrender. God doesn’t want you “burned out and used up” because of His call upon your life. He wishes you fresh, alive, and able to pour His life through you. Give whatever is necessary spiritually. You will receive the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, and what is so important, you will inspire commitment in others. Live what Paul wrote. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” There is no greater life. There is no greater passion. There is no greater reward.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Because it is Sunday


“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, AMP).

Does my faith give me assurance for the things that I hope for? Does it offer proof for the things that I don't see? Faith asks me to perceive with my spiritual mind and heart what the human mind can't perceive. According to the Amplified Version, it gives me a confirmation to things that are only hoped for. It gives me a title deed to some things that I can't touch right now. That is an amazing conception. Title deed to some things that are to be.... not that are. Faith gives me conviction to their reality. My faith... my hope... my promises.... are tangible to me. I believe in them because they are real even though I can't see, hear, touch, smell, or taste them. Faith to believe has come through years of allowing God to stretch me almost beyond bearing at times. Life has forced me to believe in that which seems impossible. His faithfulness has become real because the trials of life have made it stronger. If He is faithful to me, I must honor Him with greater faith.

A friend shared something with me this week. She had been studying this verse, and the last phrase in the Amplfied Version struck her. It defines reality as “faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to my senses.” The two words “faith perceiving” started a spiritual journey of discovery. “If your mother always cooked fried chicken on Sundays,” she said, “you would have faith to know before you ever walked in and smelled it frying, that it was in the pan. That faith is brought about by the events of the past...she always cooked chicken. So it is important for us to look at the past and remember the things He has done for us, provided for us, brought us though. This is a faith building exercise.”

Believing God requires allowing God to build our faith. God stretches us to believe in His promises. He stretches us to believe in what we can't see with our eyes or touch with our fingers. He gives us faith to believe in a promise that we do not hear spoken. He takes us out of our comfort zone to force us to believe for something greater. We receive His eyes, His ears, and His spiritual understanding (Matthew 13:16-17) when we determine to grow in faith in order to believe in His unchanging faithfulness. In His Word He gives us His precious promises. To believe in these promises He offers the greatest faith building exercise for life. “ For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8, NIV). If we add these virtues in our lives, we will grow in our faith to believe in His promises.... no matter what appears in the natural realm. We will never be found lacking in our faith in Christ. Believing by faith in what I can't see will be like knowing that there is chicken to eat because it is Sunday.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stuck in the Muck

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it” (Isaiah 43:18-19a, NIV)? 

He does a new thing everyday, so why don't I perceive it? Perhaps it is because I'm “stuck in the “muck” of my life. A friend told me this week, “I look at muck as something that is thick and heavy and keeps you in one place where you can't move... a place where I continue to believe the enemy's lies.” Muck can be my stronghold. It can be the thing in my life that paralyzes me. What is sad that muck can become my way of life. 

Some of the synonyms for muck are mire, mud, filth, dirt, and slime. It sounds disgusting, but when that is what defines my life, it is disgusting. When I'm stuck in that muck of sin or fear or stubbornness or complacency or whatever holds me captive, any hope for greater faith is sucked out of me. My muck speaks death to my faith. It reeks of the enemy's ability to keep me from freedom. But, if I will allow God to reach down and help me, He has newness of life for me. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire,” the psalmist wrote. “He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2). If I reach up, He will grab my trembling hand, and with amazing strength of purpose, pull me out of that sucking slime. Lifting me in His determined grasp, He will hold me safely and securely in His redeeming love.

How do I get to the place where I am willing to admit the muck has me stuck, and I need God's help? If my muck is sin, then that is when I realize that it destroying my soul, and God is slipping further and further away. When it is complacency, then it is usually when something horrible happens to shake me to the core. When it is a stubborn spirit, then it is when I drown in the muck of my own making, because my need to control has to have everything its own way. When it is from fear, then it is when my fear has utterly consumed and paralyzed me. Whatever it takes to admit that I am stuck in the muck in my life... whatever it takes to bring me to the point where I reach for His Hand....that is what I need to happen in my life to make me desperate enough to let go and reach up for Him.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants'" (Exodus 33:1, NIV). He longs for me to leave the muck I'm stuck in and move on to the “new thing”..... that promised land....that He has for me. I choose to reach up, and grab His hand. I choose to leave the muck of the “former things” behind. When I allow Him to rescue me from what I have been, known, done, perceived, controlled, and feared, I discover He does do a “new thing”. I actually perceive His amazing “newness” for my life! I know that with His help and His strength and with my surrender and willingness, this “new thing” will remain fresh as the moment He reached down and lifted me upward into His presence

Friday, March 14, 2014

Perceiving


The parables which Jesus’ taught reveal that appearances are not always true. There is always a deeper meaning to what is seen or heard. There is always more than what the human mind perceives. He explained this to his disciples in Matthew 13: 13-15. “This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”

I do not want to have a calloused heart that never perceives what the Holy Spirit wishes to impart. I want to perceive with an open heart, ears, eyes, and mind. How I long for Him to see in me the quality He saw in His disciples! “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17).

Help, me, Lord, to be your child who, with an open heart and mind, sees with your eyes, hears with your ears, and understands with the power of the Holy Spirit. I never want to live through another person's faith. I want to live my own faith. I want to hear from you. This is where my surrender is born. This is where the enemy will also attack me, not only with his lies and distortions, but with feelings of inadequacy in my attempt. But, Lord, I will hang on, and not give up. I will give you my heart, and seek you. I will find your breath of life in the Word, and it shall renew my dry bones. I will perceive what you have for me. If I see, hear, and understand what you are speaking to me, then I will be healed of everything that hinders me from my potential in you. I will become the person you created me to be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Step Out of Your Boat

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

How many of us allow our failures, pains, attitudes, and even sins that were crucified with Christ to hold us back? Christ calls us to let go of all that has defined who we have been. I must let go of what I consider the “security” of the boat. There is no security in the boat I have constructed. There is no security in false hopes and dreams that offer nothing in the end. That boat is subject to the waves and storms of life. That boat can sink. But I will discover when I let go of my self-constructed identity, and step out into the depths of the unknown in Christ, I am at last standing strong upon faith in Him, and not sinking into the depths of my own despair. 

When I step out of that boat, I am so longer the child who failed at sports, or math. I am no longer the person who could not quite get things together, or a person who has been hurt because of teasing. I am no longer someone who lets feelings of rejection, whether imagined or real, define who I am. I am no longer one who needs the world to approve of me. I have found my worth in Christ. I am no longer a failure. I am no longer ruled by fear. I am no longer “not quite good enough”. In Jesus Christ I am a new creature... a new person... a new identity in Him! 

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

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nowhere to Hide


“God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in. Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! ” (Psalm 139:1-10, MSG).

Why do I sometimes try to hide from God? He knows me intimately because He created me (Psalm 139:13-16). Yet, sometimes I still hide from him. Sometimes my heart closes to His calling and to His need, because that means that I must become vulnerable. To regard my life as an open book before the world can be a terrifying feeling. But God is not the world. He is my creator, and He knows everything about me. He just longs for me to stop erecting walls of what I perceive to be protection. I can't hide from Him, but I can erect walls that keep His love from reaching me. The only way that His love can lift me into His reassuring presence is to let the wall down and surrender all of me to all of Him.

In surrender, I discover the truth that where He is, there is really freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). Where once I might have tried to avoid His Spirit, now I long for it. Where once I sought “safety” from Him, I now realize the ridiculous stupidity of that attempt. Safety is found in my surrender to His love.... not in the energy I might spend to keep him out. Why would I ever believe that I need protection from the God who has created and loved me?

Investigate my life, Lord. Hold me to your truth, and bring me to my knees if I try to erect walls again. Keep me an open book before you. You know my thoughts before I think them, and my words before I speak. You know the words I will write before I even begin to write. You have walked with me in the past. You are with me now, and you will be with me in my future. That is all I need to know. I have your constant presence, and unending love. Never allow me to hide again. Keep me open to you for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pure Joy

Following her stroke my friend, Peggy, shared a dream with me. She was a small child walking home from school. In the distance home waited, but the road offered obstacles that were difficult to maneuver. Her legs scarcely jumped over the large ruts, and her arms, weighed down with books, barely managed the load.

Life is a long road home. Many times we face incredible pitfalls, and obstacles. Hopefully, we will develop the faith that will carry us to the end. “Consider it pure joy,” James writes, “Whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance! Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Greater faith is found through perseverance. Perseverance must be strong in each of us to handle life’s unexpected circumstances. What a riveting image! There is a work inside each believer, and it can only be completed through a willingness to endure! The Lord’s perfect will is for faith to spring up in the midst of heartache, pain, and turmoil.

Trials and suffering should inspire spiritual growth. “These have come,” Peter imparts, “so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:7). The trying of your faith during hardship should develop the ability to persevere. Christ reveals that we are to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. Perseverance is meant to spur each believer on toward this goal (Matthew 5:48).

God has given His divine promises so that we have the strength to stand against sin, to be part of His very nature, and to grow spiritually. To escape sin’s grasp, and to be more like Him, spiritual growth is not an option. Peter explains that we must add to faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness. We can’t add these alone (II Peter 1:3-7). Only the Lord supplies the strength for this accomplishment, but we make the decision to step out in faith.

Paul writes in Ephesians, “Be strong in the Lord (be empowered through your union with Him); draw your strength from Him (that strength which His boundless might provides)” (Ephesians 6:10, Amplified Bible) Do I want to be a productive and available tool in God’s hands? Then I must grow in perseverance through times of suffering, and be available for His purposes. My faith in Jesus Christ should be my most valued possession! When Jesus calls me home to test the value of its worth, what will He discover? Shall I have remained a child or endured and matured?

My attitudes, thoughts, and desires should be those of a mature adult, and should be first to arise in difficult circumstance. Most of all, they should spur me on toward the perfection found only in Christ. What I have within must be tested to see if it has any worth. Untried, it has no value, but tried, it is refined by the fire of the Holy Spirit. My friend, Peggy, faced the road ahead of her with a strength of character that she had learned in her walk with the Lord. How you we face ours? “Consider it pure joy,” James writes. We should joyfully learn perseverance from suffering. God wishes us to understand that it is a joy of the purest kind.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pray to Soar

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).

Do you feel defeated? Are you aching to soar above all the trials in life that have come your way? Are you discouraged because you have waited and not seen your promise? Perhaps it has been this way for awhile, and nothing changes. You ask for more faith, and it just doesn't seem to come. Then one day you discover in the Bible this statement. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). This rocks you to the core. Rejoice in your suffering? That is exactly what it says, and the reason for it is the best. You rejoice, not because your trial produces pain, but because it creates spiritual maturity in you. It grows your faith......if you rejoice in it, and determine to learn from it.

Consider Romans 5:3-4. Suffering creates the need to hang on....to persevere. Perseverance reveals the strength found in good character. Good character (virtue) is what is grown as a result, and produces the ability to have great hope. Hope doesn’t disappoint, but fuels your faith (Romans 5:5). You rejoice in the fact that you grow in spiritual maturity. Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). Hope that needs to be seen says, “I kind of believe, but let me just see enough, so that I can really believe.” This is human hope..... not hope born of spiritual growth in God. It is not the kind of hope that trusts that the unseen will come. It is certainly not the hope that understands how to wait patiently. It is definitely not the kind of hope that inspires faith.

Spiritual hope does inspire faith. It springs up when you have learned to allow Him to handle what you can't handle....when you have allowed the trials of life to create the ability to wait patiently. Have you ever considered waiting as being equivalent to hoping? “Do you not know?” Isaiah declares, “Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in (or wait upon in KJV)) the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV). Here God is revealed as one whose wisdom surpasses human understanding, and who is incapable of failure. He becomes not only the God of power revealed through His creation, but also the God of power given to His creation. He is your gift to gain spiritual hope which produces greater faith.

Your own resources aren’t enough to generate this kind of spiritual hope, and the ability to wait hopefully. For this to happen you must exchange your strength for His. When you give the Lord your concerns with the assurance that He is in control, spiritual hope not only springs from suffering, but also produces a greater faith that waits for what the world considers impossible. Now waiting only makes you stronger instead of defeating you. You have grown from suffering to hope, and from hope to faith.

Pray to soar on wings like eagles! Pray to persevere! Pray for growth of character! Pray for spiritual hope to wait expectantly for His promise! You will not grow weary or faint in the process. Your faith will hold you strong.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Change

 
Change is inevitable. It can be frightening, but, if your life is safely hidden in God, you cannot fear change. He never changes, and remains the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is your constant foundation in this vacillating world. Trust Him when what happens does not seem for your best. Learn His lesson, and apply it to your life. It makes the next change, whether good or bad, easier to handle, because you have learned spiritual balance and poise in a world that offers no solid foundation.
 
His power to handle change is available at all times. Claim it, and use it constantly in life’s changing moments. His power, His strength, His faithfulness, His consistency, His balance-it is all yours to exercise everyday. You can never ask too much of God. His provision is unending. He is unending. Living in Jesus Christ is abundance beyond any measure.
 
“See, I am doing a new thing!” the Lord proclaims. “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:19-21).
 
Whatever change lies ahead, He has made a way to provide exactly what is needed for your journey. You are His child, and He will not forsake you or leave you. Praise Him and accept His joy. It is His gift to you.
 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

HIS JOY

“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b, NLT)!

Are you seeking joy in your life? Not just any human definition of joy, but something deeply embedded in your very being.....something that just springs up immediately when trouble comes and life is hard? A spring of His life whose water never fails? A deep joy that rises from faith in His love for you?

Are you lacking strength to stand when trouble hits? Without His strength, you shall fall. You shall fail. You need His joy. Joy rises from faith in Him no matter what life throws you. Joy is not only “a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight” (as defined in the dictionary), but the joy of the Lord is a source of strength that springs from a solid faith in God.

Joy can be that extreme happiness that comes when the Lord does something incredible, but it is also that solid foundation that stays calm, peaceful, and at rest when you don't see His hand move. His joy is not dependent on feeling. Don't be dejected or sad, Nehemiah declares, because the joy that comes from the Lord is His strength.

When His foundation is strong, then joy is strong. With His joy in your life, you discover that the times that are hard are easier, and the times that are bursting with happiness are more intensely felt because of His faithfulness.

The joy that comes from the Lord is your strength. The more you “know” Him, the more you will understand the depth and the strength of His joy. There is a joy that rises from complete trust, faith and peace in Him. If you are seeking, don't let go of the hem of His garment. You shall find.

Friday, March 7, 2014

His Extended Hand

I breathe easily knowing the concerns of my heart are safe in His hands. I will rest in Him. Rest is trust in not only His ability, but His willingness, to take care of my heart's cry. Incessant activity reveals uncertainty, doubt, and distrust. If I do not know and understand that He is always taking care of me, then I will not rest. 
 
“Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). I choose to believe this. I will say it again and again. I will rely on its promise. This is a beautiful truth that waits for me to stop trying to save myself, and reach for His hand. This is a truth that says He hears my cry, and in response throws me a lifeline. 

I will hold on to that truth, and hold on to the rope. It is so ridiculous for me to try to save myself. I end up fighting against the very one who has come to rescue me! And in the process I make His rescue even harder. He waits for me to let go of everything else, and just hold on to Him. He waits for me to trust that His rope is all that I need to not drown.

Letting God have all of me is letting go of all my preconceptions, my agendas, my control, my ideas, my wants, my attempts to muddle through problems, my lack of belief, my unworthiness, and accepting His perfect love for me. That is the Hand He has extended....His perfect love. I need only to grab hold of Him. And I will never drown in my own failure.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Wind and the Whisper

The Wind and the Whisper

By Leisa Speed Rayborn
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave (1 Kings 19:9-13).

Elijah was zealous for the presence of The Lord!   But he experienced great exhaustion and discouragement.  The wicked Queen Jezebel had a mission to take him out, and he had given every ounce of strength in his mighty work for The Lord.  He sought refuge. In extreme fatigue, he asked God to let him die.  He seemed to think that he was the only one  in Israel that hadn't bowed down to the false God, Baal.

The Lord told him to go stand on the mountain.  Many times in Scripture God used three signs to accompany His presence: wind, earthquake, and fire.  He spoke to Elijah in a whisper.  His presence, found in this still small voice, suggests Gods works in gentle ways as well as powerful ways.  Oh, we should all have this passion for His presence.  Without His presence, the “spiritual bones” which structure our lives become dry, weak, depressed, withered, saddened, anxious, distant, severed, detached, and unconnected.  In our desperation, we long to be reconnected with Him.

Worship is beautiful and a true gift from God.  As we give of ourselves in honor and praise, He gives us release and freedom from the fear of our temporary circumstances. Our open communion in worship with Him fills us with His presence.  As we draw near to Him, whether on the mountain or in the valley, He will draw near to us.  What are your circumstances today? God seeks your heart in worship. There you will find relief and His peace which passes understanding in ways no words can express.

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker (Psalms 95:6).

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Give Me More


“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”  Mark 9:24

This cry to believe in God's faithfulness is the cry of someone who yearns and seeks all of God. Not only is it a cry for greater faith, but it also reveals the spiritual hunger of the one who cries out. It is the cry of one who believes some, but within His soul, cries, pleads, longs, and yearns to believe completely.

As I grow in my knowledge of God, I understand Him greater as my Savior, and realize He is my constant friend. His power becomes more real in my life, and I believe in Him more and more. But at the time time, I am more aware than ever before of failing in complete trust. "Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief." This is cry of my spiritual heart. I believe, but I long to believe more, so I cry out for more faith. My faith increases, and then I cry for more. This is my journey of spiritual growth in faith in my Savior. Step by step I grasp His promise. Each step as it becomes secure in Him provides a sure foundation for the next step to come. This cry for more faith is my soul's hunger to trust completely in my God. To conquer all lack of trust.... to conquer all unbelief, I surrender all of my will, all of my self-control, all of my efforts, all of my agenda, all of my desires, all of me to His greater plan for my life.

He hears my cry to have greater faith. He answers my prayer with more faith, but at the same time He answers my prayer with greater power to understand where I need even more faith. Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief! As I make every effort to grow spiritually, He leads me upward in greater faith. With each sure step I receive faith that cannot be shaken.... faith that is more sure and strong. If I increase in Him, His faith will increase in me. I will lack nothing as I move upward toward the prize of greater and greater faith. 

My journey continues. He leads me step by step. If I never stop, I will never lack.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Peace of a Steadfast Mind


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

Have I had prayers that have never been answered because I did not hold fast? Why did I give up? Maybe I thought it was too late, and I must act for myself. Perhaps I thought God would never act, and I must try to make something happen instead of waiting for His best. I want to always hold on with courage, and faith in Him. Not one of my prayers or cries for help goes unheard. The Lord hears, and will aid me in every way possible. If I will listen and hold fast, and not try to humanly solve problems without Him, I will discover the treasure of a deeper faith.

Whatever problem comes my way, I will face it with His peace. I will remain assured that the Lord is with me, and He will carry me. I will not turn my back on what He has already accomplished, or forget what He has promised will come. No matter the challenge, I will meet it with faith in His faithfulness flowing through me. His love and strength will carry me to the end. It is the last few miles which reveal the depth of His claim on my life. I refuse to fail Him, because He will never fail me.

The Lord aids me in every possible way. If I face my problems, and hold fast to the promise of His answered prayer, I will discover His peace. If I follow in the way He directs me, I will find strength and success in my life. This morning I wait for His promise in His time. I will not give up. His presence is with me, and I will live with Him in control. There is peace in letting go and letting Him handle what I cannot handle. So I have let go, and in Him, I have joy and peace.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

FROM "GOD CALLING": Stray Sheep

Oh Jesus, guide our footsteps lest we stray.
For straying, My children, there is no cure except to keep so close to Me that nothing, no interest, no temptation, no other -- can come between us.
Sure of that you can but stay at My Side, knowing that, as I am the very Way itself, nothing can prevent your being in the Way, nothing can cause you to stray.
I have promised Peace but not leisure, heartrest and comfort, but not pleasure. I have said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation"; so do not feel, when adverse things happen, that you have failed or are not being guided, but I have said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
So learn of Me the overcoming Power of one who, though spat upon, scourged, misunderstood, forsaken, crucified, could yet see His Work had not been affected by these things, and cry triumphantly from His Cross, "It is finished."
Not the pain, the mocking, the agony, but His Task.
Let this thought comfort you. Amid failure, discord, contumely, suffering, even now may friends and angels be prepared to sound the chorus, "It is finished."
And he went a little father, and fell on his face, and prayed,
saying O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;
nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.  Matthew 26:39

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Great Worth of My Surrender

 
Life is filled with constant irritation. Those irritations can spur me on to spiritual growth or they can destroy what God wishes to produce in my life. Whether good or bad, my life is a result of my attitude. “Rejoice always,” Paul encourages, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). It is God's will that I have a good attitude in all circumstances. I will rejoice no matter what. I will pray continually no matter what. A no-matter-what attitude can lift me above whatever I face. I absolutely surrender to the lesson—not to the circumstance.
 
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,” Paul instructs, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2) Do I have a sacrificial attitude? Do I long to be a living sacrifice? Or do I fight against the lessons of life? Strength, joy, peace, and a no-matter-what attitude come from surrender to God's perfect and pleasing will for my life.
 
Surrender is not an option, and it certainly does no good to rage against my circumstance. When God’s incredible mercy is my reason for living, then surrender is something that comes through the renewing of my mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. I yield to His lesson for my life. I sacrifice that “fight” against powers that are beyond my control, and gracefully accept His lesson. By accepting His discipline, I accept the lesson found in His discipleship. Learning God's lesson becomes my passion.
 
Over half a century ago, Jim Elliot, a young Presbyterian missionary, was killed in Ecuador by Acua Indians. His wife, Elizabeth, wrote years later about her husband’s passion for the lessons of life. “Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God. When I know myself called, summoned, addressed, taken possession of, known, acted upon, I have heard the Master. I put myself gladly, fully, and forever at His disposal, and to whatever He says my answer is yes.” Nothing will destroy me when I know myself as called to give all to Him. Nothing will come against me when I yearn to know what strength He gives me in the struggles of life. I can discover that I need “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
 
What is the cost of my surrender? Letting go of who I think I am. Letting go of my desires. Letting go of my goals. Letting go of my agenda. Letting go of my control in every circumstance and every situation, and allowing God to lead me. When I let go then I have counted the cost of surrender, and determined letting go is worth everything for what I receive in return.
 
 

Taste and See

  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! —Psalms 34:8 (NKJV)     God is good all the time. You don’t...