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Thursday, July 31, 2014

He is 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’m 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. If 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 would be impossible.

            If I bring a heart surrendered to God’s will for my life, then I reap His sufficiency instead my own. However, a heart that believes it has surrendered to Christ, but hasn't, is a heart that doesn’t realize it has its own agenda. If I bring such selfishness to ministry, I’m 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 Him my surrendered heart, I bring a heart that is easily rebuked and disciplined. It is not hardened or self-sufficient. When I listen to His voice instead of my own, I have invited Him, the vine of hope and promise, to be my all-sufficient nourishment and power.

            Jesus is the vine, and I’m His branch. If I remain in Him, He will remain in me; anything I ask will be asked within His will.  He will answer in power and purpose because His work glorifies the Father. He is the vine.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

His Light in Me


“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your   Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV).

Some days it is hard to feel like I can be His light in this world. Jesus is the light in my heart, but at times life dulls the brilliance. Circumstances hit hard, and I am called to shine for Him. Pain grips my body, and I must allow Him to radiate through my life. When I allow Him to shine through my life in the midst of my own problems and pain, He speaks encouragement not only to someone else, but to me. He bestows peace as I allow Him to work in me and through me. When I allow Him to shine, His promise of healing peace is not for only me, but for those in my world to experience.

Just as a town built on a hill is there for all to see, so should be the light of Jesus in my life. It is important for me to constantly realize the responsibility of the calling to be His light. His light reveals all that is hidden. Nothing escapes it. His light causes me to face not only what needs to be changed in my own life, but in allowing Him to change me, it gives me a desire to share what He has done. I yearn to share my life so He might make a difference in the lives of those in my world. If His Spirit is alive in me, there will be freedom for His light to shine (2 Corinthians 3:17).

I pray to always let His light change me and shine through me. I pray that in the midst of the struggles of life that I will never hide His light, but will allow it to carry me through those struggles and direct me in the way I should go. My greatest desire is that others will see the Lord living through me, and that, in experiencing His light, they will glorify Him by passing it on. He is the life, the truth, and the way. He is the only healer. He deserves all the praise and all the glory. Without His light, there would be no life.

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Promise of Joy

'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, NIV).

Are you going through a tough time? Does each day bring sadness, pain, or even fear? At times each one of us wonders where God is. When so overwhelmed we cry out for a promise of peace in the midst of our storm. We just long for our storm to end. We long for peace.

This verse in Isaiah uses the analogy of birth for the promise of deliverance and new life for Israel. It also speaks promise of deliverance to whatever pain we face or whatever struggle overwhelms us. There is a promise of deliverance that will come. Look at a pregnant woman. After months of pregnancy she discovers the intense pain of delivery, and at the moment when her pain is the greatest, there is release. What is the result? A new birth and a new life. Joy is the result. The months of discomfort, and the intense pain of delivery have been worth it. All along the way, she has anticipated the joy to come. She has believed in her promise, and the months of preparation have been worth the incredible result.

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

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

His Never-Ending Wealth


Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV).

Even though I may not be rich in what the world considers rich, I am rich in the greatest way. The love of Jesus Christ has made me rich. I can't contain this wealth, and I do not want to contain it. His love in my life overflows. He calls me to give all of myself awaymy heart, my thoughts, my possessions, my time, my prayersfor His sake.

Jesus is the greatest giver, and He is my greatest example. He gave all of Himself for meHis perfect life for my sinful one. He gave of His time, so I will give of mine. He gave up personal comfort, so I will give up mine. He gave time to each one who asked. He still gives all of Himself for my comfort, for my healing, for my understanding, for my sorrow, for my weakness, for my need.

I am called to be broken and spilled out for Him. Out of my brokenness and surrender, flows the richness of what He has given me. Because of what He has done for me, and what He continually pours into my my life, I also give. And in giving, I receive. I receive more joy and more peace and more love to give away. What I give comes back to me in a wealth that can never be measured. In giving myself away, I have discovered a never ending cycle of richness that only comes with complete surrender to the Savior who died for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

You Are Home

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NIV).
Don't obsess on the little problems that come up each day on this journey of life. Recognize each struggle for what it can be–an opportunity and a lesson to carry you further to the goal. When you climb a mountain and concentrate on the hardship of each step, you never see the beautiful reward waiting for you at the summit.
Regard each step up your mountain as a springboard toward the top, and don't dwell on each struggle or pain. Keep your eyes on your goal, and then as you climb, each step will become another solid foundation of growth. If you consider each step as a means to carry you to the promise at the peak, your climb will not bring despair, but great hope of the reward that awaits. Never forget that the Lord is your strength. He makes your feet like the those of a deer, and enables your climb (Habakkuk 3:19).

At the end of your climb, God waits with open arms. There are no more problems or pain. The struggle to the top has been worth the rewarding view–the hardship of each step no longer remembered. You have arrived at your destination. You are home.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Open and Teachable Spirit



As a believer in Christ, I must have an open and teachable spirit to the Lord's instruction. I do not have the option to ignore the transformation the Holy Spirit wishes to continually bring in my life. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers,” the apostle Paul declared, “in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).


My whole life should be one that is a “spiritual act worship” to the loving God who became a living sacrifice for me. If I live a surrendered and holy life, my obedience pleases God. My life becomes one of worship. If I worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24), I offer a yielded heart and mind that seeks to be more like Him. I yearn to grow spiritually. Spiritual transformation is discovered in the renewing of my mind. A willingness to be renewed means that I am open to learn something new in my walk with the Lord. It means that I don't have all the answers, but that I am continually seeking Him. “You were taught,” Paul also wrote,” with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 23-23).


I may be created to be holy as God is holy (I Peter 1:15), but I cannot be like Him until my attitudes and desires are what He wishes. As I am taught and transformed by His Spirit, I discover God’s holiness, and strive to live it. If something is not right in my life, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and I immediately repent. If I also need to grow spiritually in an area, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and I choose to change. As I add His virtues in my life, (2 Peter 1:5-7), my heart and mind are open to His sanctifying presence. When my heart and mind are constantly renewed, I am able to put off the old self and put on the new one.


God seeks the whole earth for those whose hearts totally belong to Him. To such a person God gives His strength which empowers personal change (I Chronicles 16: 9). When David’s sin with Bathsheba was brought to his attention by Nathan, (Psalm 51), David hit the ground in repentance. There was no hesitation in his humble heart. His example teaches that I need to be spiritually open to the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. David experienced God’s immediate forgiveness because of his repentant heart. If his heart had been calloused, David never would have realized at what point the Holy Spirit had left him. 


When I repent God cleanses my heart, and washes away the sinful impurities that separate me from His love. He promises, “I will give you a clean 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). Where once my heart was as hard and unyielding as stone, now he promises it shall beat with the pulsating blood of His living sacrifice. Where once calloused inner pain held back God’s spiritual growth in my life, now I shall be energized by His living presence. A new heart and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with the desire to keep His laws and commandments- not because they are rules to be followed, but because I love Him above all else. His law shall be my delight, and in every way He shall be my God and I shall belong only to Him (Ezekiel 26: 27-28). 


I long to always hear, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matthew 13:16). The only way that I will continually discover this promise is to have a teachable spirit and mind that are constantly transformed by the hand of God.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Without Delay

Without Delay

“I will hurry, without delay, to obey all your commands” (Psalm 119:60, NLT).

Today's verse from Biblegateway speaks to me this morning. How often, when instructed by the Lord, do I procrastinate or even become disobedient to His command? If the Lord instructs me to do something, He expects my obedience. If He speaks to my heart about an attitude, He expects my obedience to change that attitude. If He speaks to me about something in my life that is wrong, He expects my obedience to repent and stay away from it. He expects my obedience to live a righteous life that glorifies His name, but often I, like others, can find a reason not to listen. If I am not careful, the excuses will keep mounting to the point when my calloused heart no longer hears His voice. If I don't want to lose His close presence in my life, then I must allow Him to change me.

Obedience is not an option, and it does not just happen. It is born of deep commitment to God. It certainly calls for personal sacrifice. When it is born of sacrifice, obedience speaks of my willingness to submit to God’s desires instead of my own. Disobedience stems from pride. Longing for personal acceptance by others, it says “no” when the sacrifice involves humility. Often obedience contradicts the desires of my own heart. This is where obedience really begins–in my willingness to say “no” to me, and “yes” to God. When I put Him before everything else in my life, I discover the peace and joy found in surrender. Surrendering to the Lord's will reveals my respect for the cost of Jesus’ sacrifice, and goes where disobedience never will— into the very heart of God. This is where I can discover the fulfillment of a surrendered and obedient life.

The Lord yearns for you and for me to have an obedient heart—one that listens to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit and follows His will without argument. He longs to hear, “ I will obey, Lord, and, without delay, follow the direction you have for my life.” Are we pliable in His hands? Do we allow Him to mold our life or are we rigid and unyielding? To discover the fulfillment that a surrendered life offers, we make our life pliable in His unchanging hand. That sure and constant pressure brings forth a beauty of character that is unsurpassed and a life that knows His peace no matter what comes.

“I surrender, Lord, without delay.”


Thursday, July 24, 2014

There is Deliverance


In the “The Battlefield of the Mind” Joyce Meyer lays out the enemy's mission to destroy our faith in Christ. “He begins,” she writes, “by bombarding our mind with a cleverly devised pattern of little nagging thoughts, suspicious, doubts, fears, wonderings, reasonings, and theories. He moves slowly and cautiously... He knows what we like and what we don't like. He knows our insecurities, our weaknesses, and our fears. He knows what bothers us most. He is willing to invest any amount of time it takes to defeat us.”

He is willing to invest whatever time it takes to defeat you! Do you want to defeat him? Are you ready to invest your mustard seed of faith in Jesus Christ, read the Word until it becomes His power in your mind, live obediently, and fight this battle by choosing to believe in God's truth? The mind is where Satan attempts to play his games–to tell his lies–to build his lying strongholds, and destroy the faith that Christ has placed within you. You cannot sit on the sideline and hope it will go away. You cannot cover your ears, and pretend it is not there. That voice can be silenced. But it can only be defeated when you choose to fight with the Word of God and the power of Holy Spirit.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5), NIV). Just as in a battle on a physical battlefield, you want to choose your best ground, and define your terms of combat. In the battlefield of the mind, you also make choices that are advantageous to you. You have the ability to choose doubt or to have faith. You choose to believe the Word or not believe the Word. You choose the power of the Holy Spirit to stand strong against Satan's lies (Ephesians 6:10-17). You choose to place your faith in the Lord's promises instead of those lies. You choose to take captive your thoughts. You must continually practice choosing to believe. What you practice again and again, you learn.

The Holy Spirit will give you the strength to stand strong and believe in His promise instead of believing in the lies of the enemy. When you give all of this to the Lord with thanksgiving in your heart that He will take care of you, you will find His rest and peace in your mind (Philippians 4:6-7). Stand strong in the Lord, and the enemy will be silenced. Don't despair. Stand and continually make your choice. There is deliverance.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just Get Off Your Fence

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).


Do you have an area of your life where you sit on a fence because you are afraid to make a commitment or because the cost of it might be too great? You might regard your fence as a place of safety, but it is not. You sit on the fence because not sitting on the fence means that you must make a decision one way or the other. If you get off the fence, you will be forced to commit to something. You will either believe or not believe. You will either have faith or not have faith. You will either accept or reject. You are afraid to commit one way because you might be wrong. On the other hand you are afraid to commit the other way, because you might be wrong. So you sit on the fence because you presume it is easier and safer than letting go of it. It is not easier and it is not safer. It has taken a lot of energy to keep yourself on that fence. You may think your fence of non-commitment is safe, but all it does is keep you in prison without any hope of rescue. You have to risk in order to believe. 


What you might not realize is that staying on the fence is really a choice. It is a choice to remain in bondage instead of discovering the freedom found in letting go. "Now the Lord is the Spirit,” Paul imparts, “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Holy Spirit will liberate you from your fence, but you must be willing. You must choose to let go of its false protection, and make a commitment to believe in His faithfulness. The fence does not protect you. It is a place where non-commitment will destroy what little faith you have. 


Before his death Moses spoke to the Israelites and instructed them to choose prosperity and life instead of destruction and death (Deuteronomy 30:11-15). They had remained on their fence afraid to go into their promised land, but now was the time for them to choose. Not stepping out on faith to claim their promise was choosing death over life. Choosing to get off their fence and move into their promise was going to cost them something. They would have to overcome the barriers to their promise. Letting go of the fence means that you must face your own giants. But you do not face them alone. Just as the Israelites moved forward in faith with God's protection, so will you. Getting off the fence does not mean you will fail. It means that you have chosen to trust Him and His promises. It means you have risked in order to believe. You have chosen life.


Your promised land waits. It is a land where walking by faith in God's faithfulness is all that you need. It is a land where you face the unknown with the assurance that all is well in His protection and providence. So let go of your fence. He will not fail you. He will carry you through pain, fear, and doubt to your own promised land because you have chosen to believe Him. Sacrifice your fence, and trust in Jesus Christ who sacrificed all for you. “So do not fear, 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). Just get off the fence so you can live!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To "Feel"

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5, NIV).

“I am tired, Lord, and my mind has no peace. There is so much that I don't understand, and I'm sorry that I 'feel' like I need to see something in order to believe in your faithfulness. But that is where I am. I long to believe, but I just can't grasp it. I know that I should have enough faith to trust you. But everything has overwhelmed me.”

“Child,” he whispers, “I am here. You must choose to put your hope in me. In the midst of all the pain, of all the questioning, of all the wandering of your mind, you must choose to believe me even though you may not 'feel' it. Don't allow your thoughts and mind to wander. This morning your mind is bombarded with all kinds of thoughts that are not from me. I will take care of all the concerns of your mind and heart. There is rest in me. To rest in me means that you are captivated by me. It means that you choose to dwell on me instead of the lies that claim your mind. You must see those lies for what they intend to do, and that is destroy who you are in me. Those lies are sent by the enemy of your soul to rob you of my peace and joy and faith in me. Choose to believe me. Say you believe even if you don't 'feel' it. Your choice to believe is an act of will. I gave you the freedom to choose or reject my salvation. You also have the freedom to accept or reject the work of faith I wish to accomplish in your life. It is your choice. Determine to have confidence in what you hope for and to have assurance about what you do not see. Put your hope in me. Fight for your faith just like I died for yours.”

“Lord Jesus, I choose you! I choose to believe you. I might not 'feel' it at this moment, but I put my hope in you. I choose to shut down the wandering and terrible thoughts of 'what if” that explode in my mind. I choose to focus on your positive, Lord, and not the enemy's negative. I tell myself over and over that I choose to believe in what your Word tells me–that I can have perfect peace when my mind stays focused on you (Isaiah 26:3). I tell the enemy that he is defeated and he has no right to my life. I praise you, Lord Jesus, vocally, again and again and again until the lies of the enemy are silenced.”

“Child,” He responds, “it is at that moment those lies are silenced, that your sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) heralds the beginning of my healing in your life. You shall know in the very depths of your soul what you have chosen to believe. And you shall 'feel' it!”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Having Done All I Will Stand

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV).


It would be nice if life was easy. But it isn't. It is a hard-fought war. I will lose the many battles along the way unless I rely on the Lord's strength and power. With His strength I can stand against the storms. I can stand against the hardships. I can face the giants with His hand in mine. I can be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10). No weapon formed against me can prosper if I stand in His power (Isaiah 54:17). If I stand in Him, all that tries to destroy me will be defeated.


With the armor of God fully in place, I stand strong. When I know His truth–when I live His righteousness–when I am ready at any moment to share His message of sacrificial love and new life in Him–when I take my faith and believe in Him without wavering–when my salvation in Him claims and directs every aspect of my life–when the knowledge of His Word gives me the power to discern good and evil, address right and wrong–then I am prepared to stand strong. Putting on His armor is living my life completely surrendered to God. When I surrender and stop warring against what He wishes to do in my life, I find His armor to stand against the enemy whose ultimate plan is to convince me that God does not love me.


I choose to surrender and put on His armor. I will hold unswervingly to the hope I profess, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Against all foes, large or small, I will say that nothing shall make me afraid. I will stand rock-solid with His armor in place. Having surrendered all I that I am–having done all that I can–leaning on Him–relying on Him–trusting and believing in Him, I will stand powerfully and invincibly against any enemy in this life. 


No weapon–no word spoken–no evil plan–no divisive action that comes against me will prosper. It will not injure and it will not take ground. I am secure in His armor He has wrought in my life.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We Are Called


“Here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8, MSG).

When I read this verse in the Message this morning it took my breath away. This is exactly how I feel. That I am write about things that are way over my head....the things of God. Paul wrote those things that he received from the Holy Spirit, and those very verses inspire me to reach deeper for the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ.

It is frightening responsibility to write the mind of someone else. To try to represent appropriately and correctly the mind of our God is an awesome and humbling task. It is one that drives you to your knees and into His presence. You can't write truth about something or someone you don't know intimately. You certainly can't understand the spiritual depths of His Word unless you know Him and always seek Him.

I write devotionals. It is my calling. Some days I look at what is before me, and think “how did I get on this subject” or “why do these verses go together” or “why am I writing these thoughts in a certain sequence” or “will these thoughts ever make sense”..... only to have the Holy Spirit bring together what He wishes. Other days I just sit down and within minutes He has given me something that I realize I am incapable of doing without His enlightening presence. To know He has brought forth something that is beyond me, is not only humbling but incredibly rewarding.

Bill Snow often says, “if you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” I feel the pulse of His purpose driving me forward. It is the greatest honor....to know that the Savior who gave you life uses you in the purpose to which He has called you. It is the greatest fulfillment of life. What is your purpose? What has God called you to do and you have held back because of fear of failure? It is not your work. It is His. Your place is just to say yes. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24, NIV).

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Ephesians 3:20 MSG).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cherish Him Most


“We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV).

The things I have in my life here on earth do not last. The car, the television, the new thing I had to havethey are all fleeting. They are for a moment in time, but sometimes I make them the most important elements of my life. If God has allowed them in my life, they are His gifts to either abuse or cherish. I abuse them when I make them the most important aspect of my life. They are cherished as God wishes when I love Him more.

I can get so wrapped up in what I believe is “mine”! All things belong to Himeven my relationships. When something doesn't work right, I frantically try to fix it. The Holy Spirit does not want me to be frantically controlled by anythingwhether a possession or a relationship. He wants me to be free to enjoy the gifts He has given. He wants me to know that I alone can't fix either one when there is a problem. When a possession does not control my life, He gives the wisdom to either take care of the problem without frustration or just let the problem go. When I realize that a problem in a relationships is not mine to solve without His help, then I see that friendship as the gift He has given. If I honor the importance of Him in that relationship, I follow His direction and guidance with whatever He asks me to dono matter how hard or difficult. Whether a possession or a relationship He has given, each one is to be cherished as a gift and not abused. Each belongs to Him, and not to me. If either one controls my life, I have frustration and unrest. If He controls, I have His peace no matter what problem arises. I cherish Him by allowing Him to have control. It is His place to bring peace.

As humans we have a tendency to focus on what can be seen, and not what can't be seen. However, the Word says that if I fix my mind on Him, I can have His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). He is the unseen. I can't see Him, but I know Him because He lives in my heart. What I have on earth, either possession or relationship, is for the number of days He has allowed them in my life. I will cherish each as God's gift. I will do my best to take care of that which He has entrusted to me, but I will do it with His guidance His power, and especially His grace.

His love is the only thing that lasts. I will treat His sacrificial love with the tenderness and greatest respect it deserves. I will hold fast to Him because He started His work in me. If I continually surrender my life to Him, He will complete it. I will run with perseverance the race He has marked out for me, fixing my eyes on Jesus, who perfects my faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2). My eyes see the unseen finish, and I cherish Him the most, knowing that all He bestows are His opportunities to perfect my life for eternity.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Choose Your New

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


Why is it so hard to get rid of negative feelings? Why do we sometimes have trouble trusting God? If we are “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17), why at times don’t we feel new? Why do things from the past still have power to control our feelings? What are some of the things we hear in our minds? You will never be free. You have tried a hundred times. You never get anywhere. You are weak. You are a failure. You will never change. Ever have thoughts like these? 


Negative thoughts are not just put in your mind by the enemy. He exploits those thoughts that rise from how you were raised–what you have seen and heard–the sins that once held you captive, and the experiences that have shaped your life. If you are safe in Christ why do negative experiences still affect you? If you have accepted Him as Savior, the old is over. The negative thoughts of who you have been are no longer true. You believe in Him so why are you not “ made new in the attitude of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23)? 


You cannot just believe in Him. You must believe Him, and what He says in His Word–that His power can transform all of your life. You choose to forget what has happened. You choose to not dwell on your past. You choose to be made “new in the attitude of your mind “by putting on your new self” (Ephesians 4:23-24). You “put on your new self”, and He brings His power to redeem all the past which still plagues your life. You choose to dwell on Him instead of past experiences or failures or fear of “what might be”. In that surrender to His will, He captures the thoughts which have always defined who you have believed yourself to be (2 Corinthians 10:5). He redefines you.


A great newness of fresh life in Him will spring up. You will perceive it. Where once you were controlled by the old in your life, you will now be controlled by His new. He will make a way in your desert to give His living water so that you might never be controlled by what you have been or what has been. When you choose Him, you choose new. That is a daily choice that must continue throughout the rest of your life. You forget the former things, and don't dwell on the past. You dwell on Him, over and over, until the past no longer has any power over your life. You are transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). 


Choose new today. Put on your new self, and believe Him. You are a new creature.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Your Answer Waits

Thirty-five years ago when I was told I had cancer, I discovered three verses that changed my life. I share them today for whoever may need the encouragement that they bring. I share how they moved me to believe in God's faithfulness and love. I don't remember the exact order that He revealed these verses, but they all worked together to convince me that He was taking care of me. I share these with the prayerful hope that they encourage someone to discover for themselves the power of the Word and the love it reveals. The Holy Spirit has His particular verses for your need that will also change your life.

I found this verse just when I became convinced that fear would kill me before the cancer ever could. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, KJV). My mind focused on that word “peace”. I knew it was a supernatural peace that superseded all that I faced. I needed that peace. This verse told me how to receive it. I had to give God the fear of my cancer, my fear of dying, and all the fears that flooded my mind... with the assurance in my heart that He would take care of my cancer and my life. I chose to believe―even though I couldn't feel it at that moment―that at some point I would know His peace.


“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). The fear that I had was not from the Lord. He wanted me to have His power, know His love, and have a sound mind filled with His peace. I chose to believe that my fear was not from Him. I chose to believe that I could have power, love, and a sound mind.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers” (3 John 2, KYV). When I discovered this verse, the Lord placed my name after “beloved”. I was His beloved. These words told me that God wished for me to thrive and be in health. My mind focused completely on these words, and I decided they were His promise for me. I read the second half of the verse, “even as thy soul prospers”. My ability to prosper and experience health was directly related to my soul's growth. I began to seek Him as never before.... to pray and choose to keep believing that peace would come. As I reflected and prayed these verses again and again, my faith grew stronger. My soul prospered. With a prospering soul, God bestowed greater faith to believe.

Perhaps you face an illness. Perhaps fear runs rampant. Perhaps you have questions that are never answered. Perhaps the pain of your past keeps you from knowing freedom from its strangling grasp. The Word of God has your answer. Discover for yourself verses He has chosen to change your life. Seek and you will find your own answer. He wishes above all things for you to prosper and to know His healing of body, mind, and spirit.... to know His peace by being transformed in every way. 

Your answer waits for you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Free At Last


    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3:20).

    Consider His priceless words. He stands and knocks at the door to your heart. He invites you to a life which you cannot comprehend with the human mind. It is a life of utter peace and trust in His abundant faithfulness–a life of spiritual joy. His invitation promises to carry you beyond your avenue of analytical thought to one of rest that no matter what happens in this life all is well. This invitation offers respite from the hectic pace of this world. “Be still and know that I am God” takes on a whole new meaning. When you get to the place that you don’t struggle anymore, you can find peace in just knowing He is God, and He is in control. "Come to me,” He whispers in your tempest, “and I will give you rest." 

    Do you long to relinquish your terrible struggle–your pain, but you resist that which promises release? You try to keep things in control, but find out that you can't. Letting go of your struggle to control what you can't control opens your heart to His promise of peace. Letting go admits you don't have the answer. Letting go means you put your trust in what can't be seen, but in His faithfulness. Even when you shut the door of your heart to His knock, He never stops knocking.  Even when you turn from His promise of peace, He never turns away. Even when He finds your heart all closed and barred behind your fortress of pain, He continues on in His constant offer of peace. “Let go, and let me,” He whispers. 

    The harder you struggle the stronger His constant knock. The harder you resist the greater your pain. Suddenly the exhaustion of your battle is too much. Suddenly you can no longer bar that door. Suddenly, surrender is your only option. It is your only hope. You must let go and believe. You must open the door to His knock. 

    When you let go of all you have tried to handle and open the door, the peace which has waited patiently on the other side of that door is now yours. No more war inside your heart. No more need to know any answers. You are free in Him, and free of fear from the hard issues that life has brought. There will always be issues, but you will be free from their ability to control your life. Fear which has defined your life has ended. You realize that God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind (1 Timothy 1:7). Letting go and opening to His knock has brought the peace your heart has struggled so hard to find.

    You can truly be free at last.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Never Forsaken


“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Has your heart been ripped into shreds? Does discouragement and despair rule your moments? Do you feel deserted and alone? So many of us face these feelings of betrayal and rejection at some time in our lives. No matter how rejected or betrayed you or I might feel, there is the absolute promise of His constant presence and abiding love. He never betrays or rejects His children. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is no change in His love and abiding care. He is our rock.

Each one who believes in Jesus Christ can declare, “The Lord, my rock, goes before me to protect me from what lies ahead. He will remain with me. He will never leave me or forsake me. I don't need to be afraid or discouraged, because He will take care of all that concerns my life. His strength will carry me through all that comes. I won't be discouraged because I might feel alone, because I'm not. I have the greatest ally on my side. Fear will not take over my life, because His perfect love in me will cast out any fear.

“I will always remember that I am not alone, and He is with me in all that I face. He cannot deny the love He has freely given to me at Calvary. It is done, and His promise is accomplished. I can walk in newness of life because of it. Whatever comes, I will not be afraid or discouraged. I will trust His heart and His love for me. My shredded heart will heal in time, and one day His peace and joy will reign completely. I know He is with me, and I need never be alone or afraid again.”




Monday, July 14, 2014

An Unintentional Mistake


Have you ever made a mistake that you wish you could take back? It was not intentional, but something happened, and because of it another person may have been hurt. You immediately are concerned about any disillusionment which might come as a result. You hurt that you might have caused pain to someone else and hurt their faith.

I have discovered in my own imperfect Christian life that I sometimes make unintentional mistakes. I have asked for forgiveness, and have asked the Lord to protect anyone from my mistake. To some my mistake might not appear large, but to me, it does. I know the life of someone I love might be affected.

The enemy can tear you apart over something like this. He can throw a guilt trip on you that can keep you from moving on in your walk with the Lord. Once you ask for forgiveness move on, and allow the Lord to show what you need to do, and what you don't need to do. If you have truly turned this over to Him, He will guide you perfectly in how to handle your imperfect mistake.

I have made unintentional mistakes where the intention of my heart was actually to help or encourage someone else. I have stepped into situations when I have been unaware of other dynamics taking place. In my ignorance, I have fallen short of the “perfect” example that I believe God desires.

Now this is where I must really look at my heart. Am I more concerned about how someone I might have unintentionally hurt feels about me or am I more concerned about how my mistake hurts them? The focus must never be on me. If I am concerned about the appearance of being “perfect” all the time, the focus is on me. That is wrong! But if I realize that in my own imperfection, He alone perfects me, then I am free to honestly admit my mistake. I don't want another person to suffer or hurt in their Christian walk because of it. I am willing to admit what I have done and in admittance ask for forgiveness. Discovering freedom from the condemnation that the enemy brings to bear, I have God's forgiveness for a mistake that was never meant to happen.

Perhaps you have found yourself in such a situation. If you discover you have made an unintentional mistake that breaks your heart for someone you love, there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. You are more than a conqueror in Him. Beth Moore puts it like this in “Praying God's Word”. “He who is unconvinced of God's love is unconvinced he is more than a conqueror.” In all I face I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me and gave His life for me (Romans 8:37).

If we can repent and be forgiven for an intentional sin, then we are also forgiven for our unintentional mistakes.
 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Take Each Moment


I have only this one life. The moment will come when it is too late to do anything about what I have needed to do. Then it is too late, and nothing will bring the opportunity again. The chance came only once. I should love with His love, and then all things are possible. Even the most difficult thing becomes easier when offered with His love. Nothing is impossible with Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice of heart brings the greatest reward. 


Who do I have an opportunity to love with His love, and have hesitated? Is it someone who has hurt or offended me? I can't love with His love if I can't forgive. Perhaps I don't even call it unforgiveness. I call it hurt or rejection. If it eats me up, I haven't forgiven. The pain has become my obsession instead of God. It is only in Him that I experience perfect peace. I choose to let it go, and let God heal my heart. 


Nothing is too difficult in Him. If I want to be His hands and His feet, then I must seek His heart and His mind. And in truly seeking, and truly surrendering, the hardness of a hurting heart will dissolve into pliable flesh in His hands.


An opportunity will come that will not come again. I will make the most of what I am offered. Life is short, but His Spirit is so willing. In surrender and in the giving myself away, I will receive more than I ever thought possible.


“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Be Strong and Courageous


“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9).

The Israelites had wandered for many years knowing God's Promised Land waited. When it was just within their grasp, they just couldn't face the giants in order to get it. They sat for five years knowing their blessing was just within reach. But they also knew that they would have to fight for their promise. It would not just be handed to them on a silver platter. But they were afraid.

Does this sound like us? We can see our promise, but we just can't make the commitment to reach it or the fear of what it will cost holds us back. Something stands in the way that God wishes us to address, and the very thought of facing that giant in our life keeps us from the joy that lies ahead. Blessings require obedience and commitment. We want to be blessed, but many times we don't want to pay the cost. 

God told His people then, and He tells His people now, to be strong and courageous, to be obedient and committed. Know the Word. Fill your mind and heart with its promise and the strength that it brings to receive His promise. Do not be afraid, and never be discouraged. Reach out and make the commitment that is needed to receive His promise. Disillusionment and discouragement will vanish with commitment to Him. 

“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).

Friday, July 11, 2014

My Prayer Today

Dear Lord Jesus,

I don’t think I really lived before I knew you. I can remember not loving you, and the pain is too much. The thought that I once rejected you―that my actions everyday and that my life continually drove the nails into your hands brings such anguish to my heart. Thank you for forgiving me for those years. Don’t ever let me forget from where you have brought me, but don’t ever let the memory of that time pull me down. The emotional baggage is gone, in Jesus' name. 

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

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

Some are so hurt by those they love. They have been injured by painful actions or unnecessary words. Lord, Jesus, it is how I respond to those injuries that will bring healing or more division. It is how I pray–it is how I listen to your direction–it is about my will being open to your precious leading–that speaks life instead of death. You wish life for all! Not just for me! You wish salvation and healing for all your creation. How I respond to injury and pain caused by others, speaks what I really have inside my heart.


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

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

Then I see healing! Then I see victory! Then I know and really understand the power of your sacrifice and resurrection. I wish the power of your word and your love to illuminate your heart within me. I pray it be one that draws those wounded to you. Today, I commit my heart to loving those whose hearts have been held in bondage. Today, I claim freedom for not only me, but also for them. Today, I will see miracles―if I will allow you to do the work you wish in me.

I pray that my life would always offer the kind of fast you call for in Isaiah 58....one of continual sacrifice. It is then and only then, that you can use me to be the restorer of broken lives. It is only when I come in true sacrificial fasting of heart and action which speak your love, that I can be used to bring healing.

Praise you, Jesus, for your power and love that gives me life today. Lead me through this day and use me to bring life to someone else. Lay out surely and clearly my road I must travel. Help me realize that although the road isn’t always easy, it is your life which brings freedom.

In Your Name,
Amen

Thursday, July 10, 2014

I Chose Faith in Him


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

Why would I forget that he is able to do more than I ever imagine or even fathom? I have doubts. I have struggles. I question His love when I don't mean to. In a moment of trial or suffering, I forget what He has done, and allow fear to control me. Fear can become so powerful in my mind that it replaces God as my spiritual center. Fear can become my belief instead of the Lord who gave himself for me. I don't want to believe this.... but when fear is more powerful in my life than faith, fear replaces the Lord as my God. When fear becomes my obsession, I give it control in my life, and it becomes my worship. Fear and faith cannot exist together for long. One will overcome the other. If I do not allow the Lord to take control of my fearful mind, then fear will win and destroy my life.

This verse in Ephesians 3 tells me that He is able to do more than I can imaginein my circumstance and in my life. He can change the circumstance and He can change me. Sometimes He does both, but not always. Sometimes He just increases my faith that no matter what my eyes see or ears hear or heart feels, He is going to take care of the concerns of my life. As much as I allow Him, He is at work within me. The more I allow His power to change my life, the more I can believe He will take care of the impossible. The more I grow in faith the more I know that He hears whatever I ask, and provides more than I even know I need. As His love is perfected in my life, He casts out fear in my mind (1 John 4:18). Faith takes over and becomes my spiritual center. My mind is focused on Him, and He keeps me in His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).

Is this possible? Absolutely. Is it easy? No. It is work, and that work means facing the things within that must be changed. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to destroy beliefs in my life which have been false evidence that have appeared to be real. It means allowing Him to take my fear and praising Him that He is going to take care of it (Philippians 4:6-7). It means allowing the Holy Spirit to control the thoughts that come into my mind (2 Corinthians 10:5). I choose to think on what is good instead of what brings fear. (Philippians 4:8). I choose faith that brings peace over fear that brings destruction. As I think in my mind is what I am in my heart (Proverbs 23:7).

I choose Him to be my God. I choose faith.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Live and Pray for Deliverance


My people are fools; they do not know me.They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good” (Jeremiah 4:22).

Jeremiah weeps for his people, and the disaster he knows is coming because of their sin. He cries out to the Lord how long this must go on? How long must he see the death and coming destruction? And this is God's answer. His children don't really know Him. They have never grown up to be responsible spiritual adults. They are senseless, and have no understanding of what it means to live a righteous life. The selfishly live for themselves, and in doing so they epitomize what is evil. Life is all about what they want. His children have become fools because they have refused to live in integrity and honesty.

What about this country? We live foolish lives as if nothing matters. We shake our fists in God's face and demand our own way. We, who claim to be Christian, don't lead responsible lives. Honesty and integrity are two virtues that have become foreign to us. We live as if there will be no accountability for our actions.

The whole land will be ruined,” the Lord says, “though I will not destroy it completely. Therefore the earth will mourn and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back” (Jeremiah 4:27-28). Jeremiah speaks of the marching armies that will come against God's children, and how pretense of good will not save them. They can't make themselves look God for God. He looks for clean hearts. Jeremiah hears “a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child—the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands and saying, 'Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers'” (Jeremiah 4:31).

Our country may also be ruined if we do not repent, and change. We, too, shall one day be overrun, and we will be cornered.... just as the woman who cries out for deliverance in verse 31. If we are not careful, God will one day turn us over to reprobate ways, and have nothing more to do with us.

Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem,” God declares to Jeremiah, “look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city” (Jeremiah 5:1). Just as God looked for that one person in Jerusalem, He looks today for people who are faithful to Him—who seek Him and pray—who are obedient and love Him above all else.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). God looks on the heart, and that is where He makes His assessment. Pray to be a person of honesty and integrity. Pray for our leaders and nation to rise up and live in virtuous integrity. Pray that we never become like the Daughter of Zion in Jeremiah 4:31, who gasping for breath, faced the result of her own reprobate life. Pray for a country that seeks Him and His deliverance.

Monday, July 7, 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.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Never Be Deceived


Life is not easy. It is especially not easy when I allow the enemy to distort what is true. His distortion might certainly appear to be truth, but it never is. We must pray and look beneath His lies to see God’s truth in each matter. Appearance does not always reveal what is true. My perception is where his lies can take root. Prayer and Bible study are essential to understand his distortions. Just as he used Scripture to tempt Christ, he will certainly use it to tempt me to believe his lie.

I must seek God’s truth in all matters. I must realize that the parables Jesus’ spoke teach that appearances are not always true. There is always more beneath the surface. 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 and mind that listens to the enemy’s lies, and never perceives what Christ really imparts. 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 one of these who hear, see, and understand your truth with my heart and mind. Your word says that then I will be healed.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

He Encourages Potential

Have you ever felt that there is nothing you can do to become all that you believe you should be? That you will never accomplish anything of worth? Have you ever believed that there is nothing you can say or do that will ever make a difference? Have you ever known the burden of expectation that seems out of reach? Join the club. If you are human, then at some point in your life you have experienced rejection, discouragement, despair, and pain. At some point you have felt that you were just not good enough. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” If I believe I am worthless, I am worthless. Whether I realize it or not, I “do unto others” what has been done unto me. If I have been labeled as never quite being good enough, then I pass that negativism along in my expectations of those I love. If I see myself as being beyond hope, then I see others in the same light.

Into this seemingly endless cycle of human emotion, expectation, and despair at never quite being good enough, God attempts to break into our generational bondage. He waits to speak life to all that we have suffered in our past, life to our present and life to our future. He wants who I am to “be” found in Him alone. He wishes for us to realize that unlike what expectations we may have felt from others, whether real or imagined, His expectation is thoroughly attainable. He sees the promise in my life where another might not see it, and, if I truly listen to Him and obey His instruction, then I will find release from my human failures. I will discover who I really am. In His love, I can break that bondage of despair and frustration. I can do more than just hope one day that I can “become” free of all that has defined who I am, I can choose to really “be” free. I am not labeled anymore. I am good enough for Him because He died for me.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child” (1 Corinthians 13:11a). You were once a child, and all those who loved you watched you struggle to crawl or learn to walk. They watched every move you made, expecting to see miraculous change. They rejoiced over you when you achieved a new accomplishment. They were sad when you failed. But you were just a little one wanting to me loved for who you were, and wanting to feel loving and accepting arms. You didn't want to be watched for what you might become. You wanted to loved for who you were at that moment. God loves you right in your moment, and He sees you crying out to be loved and not to be labeled. When you accept His love, the bondage is broken, and you are able to not only know freedom, but to extend freedom in your expectation of others.

I pray that God gives each one of us His eyes to see the potential not only in ourselves, but in others. I pray we learn to speak life to each heart instead of death. To speak blessing instead of failure. To speak joy instead of despair. To speak life full of joy and healing. To see promise where we have seen failure. To believe in what cannot be seen, but to know that one day it will be true.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Your Heart Choice


What is a heart choice? It is whatever your attitude happens to be about a circumstance, another person, yourself, God, or anything in your life. It is whatever motivates your action. It is whether you approach each day with dread or with anticipation. John Wesley believed that sin resides in the attitude of the heart. It is your heart choice—your motivation or your attitude—which speaks of life or of death. Heart choices speak of who is really in charge of your life—of who is in control.
Just before his death Moses spoke to the Israelites and instructed them to choose prosperity and life instead of destruction and death. They were poised on the brink of the Promised Land. “Love the Lord your God! Walk in His ways,” Moses pleaded. “Keep His command” (Deuteronomy 30:15)! Moses spoke from his own failure to obey God. He would not see that land flowing with milk and honey. 

The Lord sets before His children the same command today. Our promised land waits. In fact we can smell its fragrance and its promise, but it is just beyond our reach. “Choose life,” the Lord pleads, “the land is waiting for you to enter and possess it!” The ability to choose life rests within your heart.
“What I command you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach,” Moses instructed. “The Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it! Choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)! The Word of God is meant to be alive and active. It is meant to reside within our hearts so that we might obey its instruction. Is it real in your heart? Do you know it?
“If your heart turns away and you are not obedient, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not receive what I have promised you” (Deuteronomy 30:18)! The Lord wishes His children to keep their hearts and minds upon Him. He yearns for us to reach our promised land! Often we don’t consider the fact that the motivations and attitudes of our hearts keep us from what God has promised us. 

“Now choose life,” Moses pleads, “so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life” (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a). Don't every forget that if the Lord is your life, He has promised you great and wonderful things (Jeremiah 33:3). But you can't enter your promised land without choosing a good attitude toward yourself and toward others.

Perhaps your promised land is His peace that passes your human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).
“Believe in me instead of what you have always thought yourself to be!” the Lord proclaims. “Trade the positive for the negative and see blessing! You will have surrendered your life for mine. You will have given up curse for my blessing, death for my abundant life!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Less of Me

The more I think of Him–the more I consider His heart–the more I seek His truth, the less I am like me. Without even realizing it, I grow to be more like Him. The closer I grow to Him, the more I become aware of my own lack of growth. His perfection makes my effort seem a sense of failure. However, the sense of failure that I believe reveals my own inadequacy is proof that I yearn to be more like Him. It is in the yearning and seeking that I sometimes, unwittingly, reach a higher step.

If I am lazy, then I do not struggle over any command in my life. In fact, I am often unaware of the command because I have made no effort to understand what God requires of me. Laziness brings no sense of failure because I have learned no standard. With no standard, there can be no failure. BUT.... with the an effort to seek Him, I learn His standard, I try to live it, and I feel my own weakness instead of His strength. Instead of wallowing in my sense of failure, I keep seeking and trying. His grace grows, and living in His strength becomes easier as time passes. And this, instead of failure, is spiritual growth.

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


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Joy of Obedient Sacrifice

Do you know this story? At times it is my own. God directs me to do something that I find terribly difficult, and I find a reason not to listen. If God is the greatest reason for my life, then my obedience is not an option, and it does not just happen. It is born of love and commitment to God, and it calls for my personal sacrifice. When obedience is born of sacrifice, it reveals my willingness to submit to God’s desire instead of my own. Often obedience contradicts the desires of my heart.
We all have made excuses.“It is too hard for me to do that! I don’t have time to study the Word and pray. What would others think of me? What if I fail? The excuses mount until God’s voice echoes like distant thunder. With our backs firmly turned, and our hearts grown cold, we suddenly declare, “I refuse to do that, Lord.”
Refusing God means the loss of God's presence in our lives. David, when confronted by Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba, immediately repented. “Do not cast me from your presence,” he cried out to God, “or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). He understood the danger of being separated from God. His cry for forgiveness speaks of his loving respect for God and his commitment to God’s desires (Psalm 51). Solomon refused to listen to the Lord, and allowed his weakness for the things of the world to destroy his relationship with the Lord. Near the end of his life, he looks back on wasted years and declares in Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)! The life of Solomon is a sad account of how he blew the undeserved opportunities God had given him. Jonah ran from the Lord’s instruction to witness to the depraved city of Nineveh, and he ended up in the belly of a whale. It took disaster to bring Jonah a repentant heart. Even following repentance, Jonah argued with the Lord and his obedience was less than perfect. Refusing the Lord’s call devastates our lives in Christ.
The Lord yearns for us to have an obedient heart—one that listens to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit as David listened—one which, unlike Jonah, follows God’s will without argument. I certainly do not wish my life to be likened to Solomon’s life—one lived apart from God. It is our responsibility for holiness of heart and obedience to God to be the most important disciplines of our lives. Disobedience stems from pride. Longing for personal acceptance by others, it says “no” when the sacrifice involves humility. However, true obedience reveals respect for the cost of Jesus’ sacrifice, and goes where disobedience never will— into the very heart of God. This is where the joy of obedient sacrifice is discovered.

“Remember this,” Paul wrote, “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (II Corinthians 9:6-8). My compliance to God’s will speaks of joy in my own sacrifice. If I invest with a joyful obedient heart, I shall receive the grace of His total supply. I shall discover His joy in giving—the joy in giving as He gave His life
for me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Tongue

Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back? “The bad things people say with their mouth come from the way they think. And that’s what can make people wrong” (Matthew 15:18, ERV). “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (Proverbs 18:21, MSG). “The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!” (James 3:8-10, MSG).

You and I have the power to speak life or speak death. We have the power to encourage or destroy. We choose whether we yield our tongue to the Holy Spirit or let it run rampant. It is what we speak that reveals the goodness or the darkness of our hearts―not only to ourselves but to others. The Holy Spirit can guard my tongue only if I yield it to Him. He can stop anything wrong that is about to come out of my mouth. That ability to yield my tongue reveals the stage of my heart―whether it is striving to be more like Him or is spiritually cold and unyielding.

It is so true that with the same tongue we praise God and then turn around and speak badly of someone else. We need to guard our words as closely as we guard our other valuables. Our tongue can be a valuable instrument in God's hand, or it can be one to debase and destroy. It is my decision not only what I speak, but it is my decision if I let the the Lord change the attitude in my heart that my tongue has revealed to me.

”Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” David cried out (Psalm 51:10). It should be my cry, too. Not only will I yield my heart to be purified by Him, but I will allow His spirit to renew a steadfast spirit which will continually guard my tongue. In choosing to speak life to another, He will speak life to me.

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...