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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lingering for His Purpose

When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it'” (John 11:4, NIV).

When Jesus had heard that his friend, Lazarus, was near death, He did not rush to his side. He lingered two days before going to him. He knew the outcome was life for Lazarus, and a witness to the amazing power of God. At that point others around Him could not see that truth. They just did not understand why Jesus, who had healed so many others, would not rush to heal His friend. Jesus knew it was an opportunity to bring glory to God. Whatever sickness or problem or situation or danger we face, it is also another opportunity to bring glory to God. Jesus lingers sometimes in rescuing us, just as He lingered in rescuing Lazarus, so that we might learn a lesson in the midst of hardship, or grow closer to Him through a prolonged illness, or discover a depth of faith to believe in what we cannot see. He knows of our troubles and our illnesses, and He comes when the time is right for deliverance and healing. He does not linger in order to punish us, but to bring greater promise and purpose to our life.
Jesus loves the whole world that He died for. When you accept Him into your heart, and believe He is your Savior, His promises in His Word are true for you. Now here is a promise. “Heal me, Lord,” Jeremiah declared, “and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14, NIV). His Word is truth. He does save and He does heal. But His ways and timing are not ours (Isaiah 55:8). It is in His time. Always remember that no matter what you face right now, God is faithful. He will never allow more than you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). One day He will rescue and He will heal. In the midst of your pain and hardship, seek and pray for faith to believe.

“Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go'” (John 11:40-44, NIV).

If you believe, you shall the glory of God. Believe it, and watch your stone roll away. Don't despair in the midst of your illness or your struggle or your problem or your heartache. Praise Him for His faithfulness to you even when He lingers for your benefit (Hebrews 13:15). He calls forth your healing, your deliverance, and your promise when His time is perfect. He rescues you from what would kill your faith and your spiritual life. You walk forth out of the grave clothes that have held you in bondage into His newness of life (Romans 6:1-4).
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Changed in the Spirit of My Mind

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, 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).
 
What is the grace of God? It is kindness from Him that I don't deserve. There is nothing I can ever do that will earn His favor. His favor is a gift. His mercy delivers me from the punishment my sin deserves, and His grace blesses me even though I am not worthy. His grace that is sufficient for my every need would not be real if Jesus Christ had not loved me enough to die for me. But He did, and because of His sacrifice, His love, mercy and grace have rescued me. 
 
In view of His tender mercy that forgives my sin, I choose to offer myself as a living sacrifice, and live each moment in surrender to the amazing love that saves me. I choose for my mind to be constantly renewed and molded by His grace and His power. In choosing to live a righteous life, I honor His faithful obedience to sacrifice His life for me (Ephesians 4:23-24). An obedient heart is one that chooses to sacrifice self out of love and commitment. He was obedient to death on a cross. No sacrifice of mine can ever be as great as His sacrifice.
 
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind!” Paul declares to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:23, KJV). “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” He instructs the Romans (Romans 12:2, NIV). This instruction is life-changing. To be renewed and changed by Him is an obedient decision that I make. In return He brings His power to transform and renew my thoughts and my desires. It is my choice to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:24, NIV). It is my decision “to make every effort to add to my 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 (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV). His promise is that if I constantly add these things to my life and if I am continually renewed in the “spirit of my mind”, I shall be effective in all that I do for Him (2 Peter 1:8).


The Message reveals Paul's message in 2 Peter: 1:5-8 in this way. “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.”



Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Fulfilled Vine

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV).
       
 God's power is real when the Holy Spirit lives in me. No matter how weak or how unaccomplished I might be, when I allow God to work through me, then what I do will be powerful. I need to remember this during days when I seem to slide back two steps after climbing one. No day is a failure when I have given it to God. His use of my surrendered day may not be apparent, but it is real. If I dwell in Him, and He dwells in me, then I will bear fruit. The fruit is not mine to bear. I am just the branch which carries the life of the vine to the fruit. He is the vine, and I am the branch. For the life of the vine to flow through me, I must surrender all that I am to Him. If I dwell in Him, and desire only His will and His purpose, His Spirit will not fail to flow through my life into the lives of others.

        Sometimes I just feel powerless. I yearn for the Holy Spirit to take over my struggle, but I feel He is blocked in my life. The only block that can hold His power from flowing through my life is self. If this is the case, then my yearning for Him must not be enough. There must come a brokenness of my will in every area of my life. Do I yearn for His power enough to surrender all that I am, all that I want, all that I have decided?  Do I not realize that when I hold on to the least vestige of myself I have told the Lord that I am the vine? That is pride. Think of Peter telling the Lord he was not worthy to have his feet washed. What appeared as humility in Peter was really pride. Peter was trying to hold onto the last vestige of himself by saying he was not worthy, and the Lord was asking for His total surrender. Pride. Self. Unworthiness. All are excuses to my absolute surrender.

        If I hunger to be a vessel of His love and His power, then I will seek to be broken of self. When self is gone, the Holy Spirit can flow―unhindered by my human limitations. For others to be changed by the power and love of the God in my life, I must live a surrendered life through which He can flow. If I yield completely to Him everyday, then I can be a vessel of all of Him flowing through all that I am not. When I am broken of self in order to receive all that He is, He can flow through me so that others can receive that which I alone can never give―His love, His peace, His joy.

        Lord, break me for your purpose. Get my selfishness out of your way today. Come, Holy Spirit, and touch and move through me. Love through me; forgive through me; encourage through me; rejoice through me; guide through me, and fill others through me. Holy Spirit, be what I can never be―YOU, alive and flowing through my life so others, too, may live.

I CAN COUNT ON HIM

I Can Count On Him
“I know what I’m doing,” says the Lord, “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you, and bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it” (Jeremiah 29:11-14, MSG).

God knows what He is doing. I don't have to know His plans, but I do need to trust and have faith in His love for me. When I seek Him with all my heart and desire Him more than anything else, I will discover more faith to believe in His promise of deliverance. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36, NIV). I will not give up. He will richly reward my confidence and faith! If I persevere in living each day honoring Him, I shall receive His promise. 

My Lord will turn things around for me, and will bring me out of the place where I have suffered and felt abandoned. Out of His abundance, He shall supply all my need (Philippians 4:13). It is His promise, and I can count on it because I have faith in Him. I don't just believe “in” Him, I believe Him. The promise is not where I place my faith. My faith is in Him. If He loved me enough to give His life for me, He loves me enough to take care of what lies ahead. I can count on Him.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

No Matter What

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV).
My gift to the Lord is a thankful heart. It is a heart filled with praise no matter what happens in my life. When things are hard—when fear and worry persist—when problems overwhelm, I will look for reasons to be thankful. I will seek to realize the blessings He gives that often slip by unobserved. The gift of thanksgiving in my heart—in spite of pain or problems in my life—is my sacrifice of praise.
There are always blessings, but they are often missed because my mind is focused on my circumstance and not on His faithfulness to carry me through it. My mind is consumed with worry or fear instead of His peace because I have not given Him my struggle. But if really seek I will discover the blessing of His grace that he extends to carry me. I often miss that grace because I am struggling so hard to control what I don't have the ability to handle. Often I am so consumed with the pain of my own life, that I miss what my own brothers and sisters face in their own. I miss the blessing of sacrificing myself for the sake of someone else.
Each day I will open my eyes to His blessings around me. I will realize that others have needs, and I will give myself away in spite of my own circumstance. When I reach out to others I am not so self-consumed with my own problems. My focus changes. My heart is placed on another person's needs, and the selfishness of my own will is broken. The wall which has imprisoned my own pain comes down, and praise and thankfulness spring up. I discover that in giving myself away, I receive more and more grace from Him. It is powerful enough to carry me through my own circumstance, and make me realize that I have not been left alone. The praise that once felt like a sacrifice no longer feels like one. Thankfulness and praise rise from a heart that knows He is able and will take care of my life no matter what.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Obedient Joy


“Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8,NIV).

When I am obedient to God's Word, my actions reveal that the cost of Jesus' sacrifice means everything to me. Christ's obedience to His father's will at Calvary is my greatest example of obedience. It was His choice whether to lay down His life or not. He had the freedom to refuse. He was not compelled to give His life for me. He just did because He loved me. I am also free to accept and follow Him, or I can refuse and reject Him. If I go my own way, I miss the joy found in sacrificing my life for the sake of His.

When I am obedient to God's will in what I sacrifice, His sacrifice becomes the defining reason for my obedience. The sacrificial love of Calvary completely defines who I am. I discover that a humble spirit inspires obedience, and finds joy in living an obedient life. But when I refuse to follow Him, I become the prime example of the fact that disobedience stems from pride. It says “no” when the cost of personal sacrifice is too great, and has little reverence for the price that was paid at Calvary.

My obedience honors the cost of Jesus’ sacrifice, and goes where disobedience never will— into the very heart of God. This is where the joy of giving myself away for His sake 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” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, NIV).

Do I want to freely, and never reluctantly, invest in His Kingdom by living an obedient life? Do I long to cheerfully give my life for His sake? My compliance to God’s will brings the greatest joy in what I give away. If I invest with joy, I shall receive the grace of His power and supply for my work. His joy is discovered in giving as Christ gave to me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Giving

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)?

These two verses in Isaiah 58 give instruction to “fast” (let go of) my own desires and to do whatever I can for those who are hurting―to help those chained up in poverty―to help those struggling to break the burden of sin―to share with those accused unjustly―to provide a place of rest for those in turmoil. I am called to fast what I consider my own needs, and give away my “comfort” for the sake of someone in need. However, for my giving to be pleasing to God, my motive must also be right. I don't give because I am compelled. I give out of my love for Him. I give because He gave himself for me.
“When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4, NIV). I have known people who make a public announcement following an act of kindness or giving a gift. They appear to be altruistic, but in bringing attention to themselves, they reveal giving that has selfish motives. Perhaps they hunger for the recognition of man, and don't understand that God wishes their hunger to be just for Him. Not only have they missed the fact that giving in secret brings God’s reward, they miss another truth. When they quietly give, they empty more than their pocketbook. They empty themselves of the need for acceptance.
Do I give away my time and my money openly or secretly? Where does my acceptance lie? The Lord yearns for the lesson to take root in my heart. In selfless giving I receive the humble heart of a servant. I learn the truth of a great paradox―to die to myself is to live the greatest fulfillment in Christ.
Lord, help me to never give in order to receive recognition from others. If I give joyfully and sacrificially from a surrendered, and cheerful heart, my life will be fulfilled and blessed―not because I have given in order to receive, but because I have given out of your love. A promise follows, Lord, in the next few verses in Isaiah 58. I am so thankful for this promise. It is that reward Matthew writes of...the one that I will receive when I give myself away in secret. “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isaiah 58:6-8, NIV). Lord, in giving, I receive you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

In the Midst of His Will


“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 12:2, NIV).

You love God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul. You live a surrendered and obedient lifeone that seeks to please and honor the Lord. You seek Him everyday through prayer and the Word. You seek His intimacy because without it you are lost. You pray for others because if you don't, you will fail them and Him. You are available when He needs you, and you reach out to those who need help. He gives you what to say when you need the words, and He is able to direct your steps. You constantly seek to be closer to Him, and to be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. You belong to Him, and yet you are struggling to discover His good, pleasing, and perfect will for your life.

You have sought for a great purpose in your life that brings passion to your soul. You have cried out to God to know His perfect will. You know that if you are in His will, you shall be fulfilled. So you have struggled to discover it. In your seeking, perhaps you have missed the smaller purposes that can make up a greater one. Perhaps smaller opportunities that God has sent your way have been overlooked in the search for that great purpose God has for your life. And with that overlooked opportunity, you have missed the passion and fulfillment you have sought.

Open your heart each day with expectancy that you shall be used by God that day! Ask for opportunities to be used, and you shall receive. Discover the purposes of your day that bring glory to His name. Make yourself available with a joyful spirit. Discover your passion in what has been given for you to do now. With a yielded heart of surrender and a mind to receive the direction of His Spirit, you can test and approve each opportunity that a day presents. You can “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3. NIV). You shall be in His will.....His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Quit striving to know that “great” will of God. Live for Him; love Him; serve Him, and allow the Lord to present His will to you. Find the purpose and passion in your day now. Be transformed and renewed daily. Take care of what He brings to you, and serve Him with gladness. Be passionate in your daily opportunities. And discover joy being in the midst of His will today! God does not consider any service as being small. If you seek and serve Him in what you consider the small things, you will one day learn just how big they really are. You shall “know” that you have found the great, passionate, and perfect will of God for your life.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Green-Eyed Monster


“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30. NIV).

Envy. Jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster that if allowed will consume our life. Nothing good comes from envy. It springs from our carnal nature, and steals the fulfillment in life that God's spirit imparts. It kills the fruit of the spirit. Envy crucifies any love, robs our joy, and destroys our peace. Whatever patience we might have had is gone, because we are never satisfied. Whatever kindness and goodness we exemplified has departed, because we don't view another as someone to care about. We see them as someone to compare ourselves with. We have no self-control of our desire for more–we have no faithfulness that perseveres–we have no gentleness of heart because we are in a constant state of competition (Galatians 5:21-22). With envy, there is no peace.

Our verse from Proverbs basically says that peace is the exact opposite of envy. Peace gives life, and envy rots it away. When our heart and mind are at peace, we can live in His fullness. The body is at rest. There is no striving to have more or be the best at something. We can rejoice with others if they receive a blessing. Our heart is free to love, and not judge. We don't compare because there is no competition. Without all the stress of comparing and competition–when are hearts and minds are at peace, our bodies are at peace. There is life. If we are filled with envy and are always comparing our life to someone else–if what we have never seems enough–if we feel we are not the best at something, then our striving and unrest will wreck havoc on us. It will kill the spirit and the body.

“I gave you milk,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?” (1 Corinthians 3:2-3a, NIV). How immature are we? Do we still need to be treated as spiritual babies needing milk? When will we grow up and walk in the spirit instead of the flesh? Jealousy does not only destroy our spiritual life, it breeds dissension and division. Envy does not only destroy God's ability to work in us. It destroys others. Now is the time to grow up. Instead of allowing envy to crucify the Holy Spirit in us, it is time to crucify this green-eyed monster.

If God's love is in us, there is no place for envy. Love is patient, and it is kind. Love does not envy. (1 Corinthians 13:4). It does not destroy lives. Love builds. Love creates. Love sees the best. Love does not compare, and it does not compete. The time for solid food has come.

Friday, September 19, 2014

His Peace is Real


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

There is a peace that is greater than anything my mind can fathom. It shields me from pain that the storms of life impart, and carries me through each battle that rages. There is a constant and abiding peace that is found only in Him. When my life is a roller coaster ride, swinging from one crisis to the next, His peace is my promise that, no matter what I think or see or feel or hear, it is entirely possible to have His quiet rest within me.

Philippians 4:6-7 are two are my favorites verses. This is because they have brought me peace in the midst of life's heartaches and struggles. The only reason they bring peace is that I believe what they say, and I act upon it. The instruction in verse 6 is clear. When it says that I am not to be anxious about anything, at first it's difficult, because fear always tries to rise up. But if I do what I am instructed to do in the next few phrases, my anxiety level drops. In every situation that I face, I am instructed in prayer to give God all my worries, fears, and every circumstance. When I realize that I can't carry life's burdens alone–when I realize that I'm unable to take care of them–when I finally trust God to handle them, He lifts the load and carries it for me.

Suddenly I can breathe! I don't have to have an answer. I don't have to protect anyone. I don't have to meet that need. I don't have to take care of a problem that is more than I can handle. His peace that verse 7 promises descends into my heart. With His peace comes His strength and direction to handle what I can't handle. There are things I must do because I can't retreat from life's problems, but if I follow His direction through each struggle, I will hold on to His peace. When I don't have an answer, He imparts His. When I can't protect someone, He offers something that will. When I don't have the means to take care of a problem, He reveals the way for it to be done. When I let go and allow Him to be Lord of my problems, they are no longer mine. They are His to handle and solve.

I can have His peace through the raging times of life–not just exist but live in His fullness of life, and not the emptiness of my own. I can't hide or run from problems and struggles of this life. But His peace, which always comes when I allow Him to have control, is beyond anything I can understand. It gives me what I need to take care of what I am unable to take care of without Him. His peace is real, and it is His promise.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Isaiah 62:6-7


 “I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem.
    Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out,
    reminding God to remember.
They are to give him no peace until he does what he said,
    until he makes Jerusalem famous as the City of Praise” (The Message).

The Lord has placed prayer warriors to stand guard and pray for your needs. Day and night they are called to pray, and remind God never to forget you. These prayer warriors are instructed to remind God again and again that you are waiting for what He has promised. They are encouraged to pray until your very life becomes a praise to God's glory.

If you feel discouraged today, don't remain that way. God has placed watchmen on your walls to pray for you. If you are called to be a watchman, then be a faithful watchman and pray for those who God brings to your heart and mind. Never give up reminding God for each one's need. Pray until their lives become a praise to God's faithfulness and glory in the earth!
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 36:26


 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (The Message).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (The Message).

For us as believers to have unity of heart, (Ezekiel 11:19) where no stoniness and hardness of heart keeps out His spirit, I must first, as an individual believer, (Ezekiel 36:26) have a new heart and a new spirit that receives life from Him. For the church to experience an undivided heart, I, as an individual believer and part of the church body, must experience a heart change that radically alters my life. This heart change is what I must bring to the body.

When we allow Him to give us a new heart, and to put His spirit within us, we alone not only benefit. The body of Christ will come to also have that new spirit within its own heart. The church shall be set free to move into His presence as never before. It will be free of a stony heart that has judged and divided the body. Now it shall receive His life, because it has been freed from the tyranny of a stony heart. Our heart, where once it was hard and cold, shall worship Him with every breath of our life. And His Spirit will flow and bring a wholeness and unity of purpose that will usher in a newness of spirit never before experienced. We shall be totally set free to worship Him in Spirit and Truth.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Habakkuk 2:1-4



“What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
    I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
    how he’ll answer my complaint.”

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time” (The Message).
 
This just says it all! You have a question. He has the answer. Ask Him, and wait for His answer. Don’t give up! When you get your answer believe that it is the truth! Wait for its fulfillment. It is on its way, and will be there right on time! 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

I AM HIS

Isaiah 41:8-10

“But you, Israel, are my servant.
    You’re Jacob, my first choice,
    descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
    called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
    I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” (The Message).

I am His first choice. He called me out of darkness into His presence. He tells me He is Lord of my life, and I belong to Him. He has chosen me and not left me behind. I am not afraid or worried. He is with me. Fear is not my master for He is my God. He will give me strength and help me. His hand holds me steadily and tightly. I am His.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

He Answers Your Call


Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)

Stop and think about this verse in Jeremiah, and you will realize that it is an incredible promise. But it is more than an incredible promise of God; it is an absolute truth in God's constant and abiding Word. If you call to Him, He will answer. You do not ask a void for an answer. You ask the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God. You ask the Creator of the universe. You ask your loving God who knows you better than you know yourself. You ask your Father for His time, and He gives it willingly and unsparingly because you are precious to Him. You ask the Lord who is everywhere at the same time, and yet He is there for you. You ask an all-powerful God who is there for all who believe. He brings the same power to your need that He used to raise Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19). There is no other name that you need, but that of Jesus Christ.

He answers you with great and unsearchable things which you do not know. You may not understand them all after he imparts them to you, but you believe because He is your God. He only imparts truth. You believe them by faith, and you trust by faith. One day you may understand, and one day you may not understand. It is alright either way. You have His peace either way. Because you love Him deeply and intimately as He has loved you, there is peace in either knowing or not knowing–in understanding or not understanding. You know that He knows best so there is no struggle against His will. There is acceptance and rejoicing. He speaks to your longing spirit and heart because you have peace no matter what. You receive powerfully and completely and trustingly from His magnificent bounty.

Call to Him. Pray to Him. Cry out to Him, and He will answer you. It is when you want all of Him, and have given up all of yourself, that the unsearchable things He imparts, fall behind the importance of loving Him. The unsearchable truths are beyond magnificent, but He is......there are no words for what He is except joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Friday, September 12, 2014

In His Hands

 "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)

The Lord himself goes before you!” What a powerful declaration! Not just the Lord goes before you, but the Lord himself! The use of the word “himself” following “Lord” denotes absolute promise of the statement. El Shaddai himself, the Lord God Almighty, goes before you every day. He constantly remains with you throughout the day and night. He does not leave you deserted or alone. There is no greater Warrior, Shepherd, Provider, Friend, and Savior. He is Emanuel; He is constantly with you. He is the Lord who yearns for your love and surrendered heart, and when He is owns your heart, He becomes all that you need for this journey of life.

If He is Lord of your life, then why are you afraid and why are you discouraged? Perhaps your heart has been ripped into shreds or you have forgotten how to reach for His comfort and strength. Perhaps feelings of fear have claimed your mind and heart instead of faith in knowing that the Lord God Almighty himself is with you. No matter how rejected or betrayed or alone you may feel, there is this truth of His absolute presence and abiding love. He never betrays or rejects. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is no change in His constant and consistent commitment to you. If you will constantly and consistently seek Him, you will understand the depth of His love and commitment to you. You will know He is with you whatever comes your way.

Nothing is for sure, Lord” you declare, “and nothing is for keeps. All I know is that your love will live eternally. I will my find way, and I will find my peace knowing you will meet my every need. So my life is in your hands, and my heart is in your keeping. I'm never without hope as long as my future is with you. My life is in your hands, and though I may not see clearly, I will lift my voice and sing. Your love does amazing things. Lord, I know my life is in your hands” (from “My Life is in Your Hands/ Kathy Trocolli).

There is no greater peace than knowing that your life is in His hands.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Can Count on His Promise


I know what I’m doing,” says the Lord. “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you, and bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it” (Jeremiah 29:11-14, MSG).

Sometimes I forget that God knows what He is doing. It is in these moments when I try to take control, I discover only discouragement and failure. But not only thatas I try to handle what only He can handle, fear takes root. Fear will not only separate me from His peace. It will keep me from feeling His perfect love (1 John 4:18). God knows what He is doing. I don't have to know His plans, but I do need to trust and have faith in His love for me. How can I not trust the very one who gave His life for me? When I seek Him with all my heart and desire Him more than anything else, I will discover more faith to believe in His faithfulness to me. If I persevere to do His will each day, I shall receive His promise (Hebrews 10:35-36). He will bring me out of the place where I have felt alone, where I have suffered and felt abandoned. He will turn things around for me. I can trust Him for it. I can count on it. It is His promise.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Knowing His Presence

“He will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6b).
Do I believe this promise that he will never leave or forsake me? It is a guarantee. If I don't feel His presence all the time that does not mean He has forsaken me. He doesn't change (Hebrews 13:8), and He doesn't leave. 

When I have something in my life that is wrong, I don't feel a closeness to God. I have an uneasiness that lets me know I need to make a change in my attitude, thought-life, or action. When there is something that blocks His presence in my life, I have no peace because my life is not surrendered to Him completely. I feel He has left me, but He hasn't. He is still there waiting for my return. The feeling of separation that comes with sin is very real, but it does not come from Him. When I haven't surrendered my life, I have forsaken Him. 

When my life is surrendered to Him, I have a peace from believing and knowing that He is with me. Though His supernatural presence is comforting, inspiring, and joyful, I do not need to constantly have a sensory feeling of His closeness to know He is with me. I have His guarantee. I know His peace that passes understanding even when all around feels dark. I know in whom I believe, and know He is able to keep me safe no matter what happens. There is the deepest joy that comes from choosing to believe by faith that He is with me. With that joy comes the feelings of completeness for which my heart has so longed. The days He graces me with feelings of His amazing presence mean so much more, because I have chosen to believe in Him on days when life has been hard.

If I have something is my life I know is not right, I must let it go. If I have wrong attitudes and thoughts, I must lay them on His altar. Then I shall know His presence. He is my strength when I feel weak. He is my peace when I feel shaken. Feelings depend upon moods, circumstances, and outward pressures. His peace comes from within and never without. I may be influenced by circumstances, but He never is. His promise is always kept. To have His peace that passes understanding, I give Him all that I feel and choose to believe in what He has promised. He will never forsake or leave me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Because He Loves Me

“'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him;
  I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
  I will be with him in trouble,
  I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
   and show him my salvation'” (Psalm 91:14-16, NIV).

Psalm 91 is an incredible psalm of God's protection. One of my friends has memorized this whole psalm to encourage herself when she faces fear of the unknown or something that she knows is coming against her. She has the assurance that He is not only with her, but that He will rescue her.The last two verses of this psalm offer great promise. If you are going through a difficult time that overwhelms your heart, read these verses over and over until they permeate your soul.

“Because He loves me” is the whole basis for His loving protection. It is the whole basis for who He is. God is love. Often when in torment or fear, we forget this fact. If I know Him and He is Lord of my life, He will protect me because he loves me! He will keep me safe. When I face harm or pain or terror, I can call to Him. I can pray and lay all of my fear on His altar (Hebrews 4:16), and He answers with His loving assurance that no matter what might come against me, it will not prevail (Isaiah 54:17). When I face trouble, I am not alone. He is with me. He is not only with me. He carries me through what I cannot handle. He delivers me from the worst that might happen. Often I feel that I am going through a hardship alone, because I don't feel His peace. At such times I haven't kept my thoughts on Him, but on my problem. When I keep my mind on Him and His faithfulness, He will keep me in His peace no matter what I face (Isaiah 26:3). Today, whatever might come against me or whatever lie the enemy might send my way, I know God loves me. I can believe in Him. He is greater than anything else in my life. He loves me with His perfect love. He satisfies my soul with His love all the days that I live, and reveals to me the joy of my salvation. Because I love Him with all that I am, I can receive with joy every ounce of the love that He is!

Monday, September 8, 2014

HIS BLESSINGS


“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2,NIV).

How many of us really make a determined effort to follow the Lord's command to live a surrendered life? Perhaps we don't because following Christ means sacrifice. We want to follow Him, but it means giving up who we are for who He is. It is going to cost us. Selfishness and pride are two of the first things that must die. Following Christ also takes up our time and uses our energy. We sometimes make our Christian walk circumstantial and based on our feelings instead of God's desires. But if we sacrifice our feelings and follow His will in all circumstances, God's blessings “will come upon us and accompany us”.


It is God's desire to bless His children who make a commitment to follow Him. His blessings are His gifts which flow when we sacrifice our personal desires for His, and live an obedient life. Sacrifice without obedience has little meaning. Sacrifice is whatever we lose for His sake, and obedience is whatever we give. Obedience is our offering to Him that comes when we realize that the sacrifice of ourselves is not about us. It's all about His love that gave His life for us. He was obedient to death on a cross for us. How can we not respond in return with an obedient life that praises His love, and gives up all that is necessary for His sake?

Never live for the sake of His blessing. Always live for the sake of His love. We must never regard sacrifice and obedience as a means to earn God's blessings. Then pride enters, and makes us see God's blessings as a reward for all we have lost and given. Sacrificing our desires for His desires and living a committed life brings blessings because of God's love for us—not based on our efforts. His blessings are an outpouring of who He is. He is the love which gave His life for ours on Calvary. He is the love that is only completed in us when we give all of who we are to Him. His blessings flow as a result of who He is, and never because of anything we have done. “I have come,” Jesus said, “that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). God wants us to experience the fullness of our relationship with Him. In living a sacrificially obedient life, that is what we receive.

In these verses in Deuteronomy God's blessings are intertwined with our obedience. His direction is very clear. If we fully obey the Lord our God and carefully follow all His commands, His blessings will come to us. And His blessings are the very best. Different from any humanly-inspired gift we might receive, His blessings will change our very lives. We will learn that sacrificial obedience brings His abundant life. In giving all of ourselves to Him, we shall receive all that His chosen for us. His blessings are beyond whatever our human mind might conceive. They are more than our human heart can hold. They are of Him, divinely-inspired and given out of the greatest of all love.
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Am I Going to the Banquet?


 We have just received an invitation to the greatest banquet of all time. Are we going to accept it? Are we going to say “yes”? Accepting the invitation means we are willing to make the commitment of believing by faith in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. It means that we accept all the other responsibilities that the invitation requires. Our “yes” is not only for the banquet. It is for a surrendered life.

In Luke 14:15-23, Jesus shares the parable of the great banquet. Just as in this parable, we, too, are invited. But also just like the parable, there are those of us who will make excuses not to attend. The excuses in the parable were reasonable, but they were not sufficient enough to refuse the invitation. Isn't this true in our lives? What are our excuses that keep us from serving the Lord? Is it inconvenient or does something else seem more important? The banquet to which we are invited calls for our complete surrender. It calls for obedience and for letting go of everything in our lives that hinders our total commitment.

God does not want any excuses. He desires our love and an undivided heart which gives Him full allegiance. He longs for our loyalty and faithfulness. We are called to “go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:23b). We are to compel the lame to come and be healed—the blind to come and see. Yet we, in our own lameness and blindness, have enough trouble compelling ourselves to come and be healed. God loves us even when we have allowed excuses to hinder our love and commitment to Him, But that forgiving love does not give us a license to reject Him. He will discipline us because of His great love. It is never an issue of His love. It is always one of ours for Him.

If we reject His invitation, then we will experience a separation from His unconditional love that no human love or attempt at fulfillment can ever bridge. “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3a)? Rejecting His invitation and not surrendering to Him, will keep us out of His great banquet.

There is an invitation on the desk of my heart. I can’t ignore it. I know it is there. It waits for me to pick it up and respond with every fiber of my being. It calls for my surrender, and for my obedience. Am I finally willing to allow God to have my heart and life? Do I desire His will more than my own? Am I through with excuses that keep me from knowing the depths of His love? I will accept His invitation to the greatest of banquets by surrendering my life and my will to Him. It is at that banquet that I will one day not only see my loved ones, but my Savior, who gave His life for me.
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Friday, September 5, 2014

Surrendered for Peace

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,” (1 John 4:15a, NIV).
The love of God must control my heart and mind, or fear will rise to defeat my faith. When the love of Christ is perfected in my heart, fear cannot claim me. If I grow spiritually and allow His love to change me, I will discover that in my weakness I have His strength. With His love claiming my heart, fear cannot claim my mind. Letting Him have control frees my mind from the constant struggle of how I need to make things right, and allows Him to make things right. With God in control, I can face all that comes my way without fear.
Daily I surrender myself to Himmy time, my work, my priorities, my thoughts, my ideas, my preconceptions, and all my life. I choose to believe only Him. He is Truth. I am not. He is Life. I am not. He is Peace. I have none. He is Joy. I can't manufacture it. He is “ALL”, and I am just me. Each day I lay myself upon His altar, and make an offering of my lifeof any strength and my many weaknesses. I yield any strength to His control so that He might use it for His glory. I yield my weaknesses so that His power, exemplified in my life, might honor only Him (2 Corinthians 12:9). I wish to offer Him everything that I have and all that I am. It is in giving myself away that I shall receive. I shall receive His “ALL” instead of the little that I am.

And I shall have peace.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Choose His Grace


“Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14, NLT).

You have been bought with the most costly price–the sacrificial gift of a life given so you might live in freedom and in victory. Through the years you have learned more and more of Him, and grown in Him. You have lived a life surrendered to His will, and you have been obedient to His Word. Yet, suddenly you find yourself poised on the brink of destruction. You know in your mind and heart the difference between what is right and wrong, but the enemy has made his way look comforting, attractive, and rewarding. Perhaps your motives were at first pure, but as time progressed you have not guarded your heart, and you have been drawn into an emotional attachment that will ultimately destroy your life in Jesus Christ.

Choose the life that Jesus offers. Don't allow the lure of what temporarily soothes to claim your heart and mind. That balm does not last. Your balm lies in Gilead. He is your only hope. Hold on to what Jesus has given you. Don't forget the love you have found in Him. Through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within your heart, stand strong. Cut those ties that will destroy you, and look to Him, the author and the finisher of your faith. You have not been abandoned. You have been drawn with an everlasting love that will never fail you.

Choose life and blessing instead of death and destruction. Seek Him and only Him. You will not only guard your heart from that which will destroy you, you will guard the precious truth that He has entrusted to you. You will know freedom and victory in Him because you have chosen Him over anything else. Never again will His loving grace be second. It will be the most costly treasure of your life.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

BELOVED

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, NASV). “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers” (3 John 2, KJV).


When I first read these words in 1979, I didn't know how they would impact my life. I had been told that I had cancer. As I read the first word, the Lord placed my name after it. He called me “beloved”. He wished above everything else for me to prosper, to thrive, and have good health. That was His will for my life. My mind focused completely on these words, and I decided they were His promise for me. He wanted me well! I read the second half of the verse, “even as thy soul prospers”. He certainly wanted my soul to prosper more than anything else. I decided to seek Him in His Word. I needed hope, and that is where I knew I could find it. He healed me that year of cancer, and I will praise Him forever for His miracle. But it was not until a few years later that I came to understand the depth of that verse in my life.


According to this verse, when my soul prospers spiritually His promise is for good health for my life. My soul thrives as I seek Him. The more I know Him the less stress consumes my life. I prosper in every way–spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. With spiritual growth, I know I am His “beloved”, and I can believe in His promise of good health even when I haven’t experienced it. With a prospering soul, I receive God's greater faith to believe. With greater faith I learn to persevere and trust God for His best in my life–whatever He decides that best should be. Sometimes it is not what I perceive it should be, but I have learned that His way is greater than mine (Isaiah 55:8). By continually giving Him my concerns and worries and fears, I learn that I don't have to be anxious (Philippians 4:6). My constant striving to trust and have faith is over, and I can rest in Him. My mind and heart remains on Him, and I have His perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).


If you are struggling, let 3 John 2 take root in your soul. Seek Him, pray, and learn about His love for you. Invest your life in God, and He will invest in you. You will realize that with spiritual growth and maturity comes His promise of healing. You will have the greatest peace, and you shall know that you are His “beloved”.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Friendship


One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV).

Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life,” C.H. Spurgeon wrote. “Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend." This is the kind of friend I wish to beone who knows I can't solve a problem or fix an issue, but who realizes that in listening to my friend's heart, I have given the very best I can give. I want to be a faithful sounding board, encourager, and someone my friend can lean on.

Have you ever tried to help a friend, and ended up hurting him instead? Was it something you were certain would bring relief, but all it did was bring more pain? Sometimes in an attempt to lessen a friend's pain and ease a breaking heart, we attempt to fix something that we don't really understand. Only the Holy Spirit does. Sometimes the Holy Spirit does guide and give direction to encourage our friend, but it is always His place to do the work. We can't fix anything. Only He can. Look at Job's friends. Job didn't ask for their advice, but they gave it anyway. They believed that they were helping Job with their insight. All they did was hurt him with their judgments and accusations. They really didn't understand the larger picture, and neither do we.

If a friend shares his heart, he has trusted you enough to make himself vulnerable to what you think of him and to your assessment. If your friend comes to you seeking advice, pray for God's wisdom and always extend the grace of honesty without judging him. If you are a loving friend, and not a “Job” friend, you will know that you don't have all the answers, but you will carefully listen. If the Holy Spirit gives you insight, you will only offer that insight, and not place any expectation upon your friend. You make a suggestion, and also make it clear that you love him no matter what–that you do not have all the answers. God extends free will to us, and we must do the same. We can't demand anything of anyone, but we can love completely with His love that sees potential without passing judgment. There is no greater love than when we give ourselves for our friends. We must lay down all our human judgment or preconception or expectation. We must release all this so then we are free to love. We just love with His love, and then all things are possible. 
 
My friend, if I ever make mistakes that hurt you, please forgive me. I don't do them on purpose. I try to be the best friend that I can be, but I often fail. When I hurt so much for you and want desperately to help, I often confuse you, and try to fix things that I should never attempt to fix. The best I can do for you is pray for you and ask the Holy Spirit to make me sensitive to your needs, and keep me from making mistakes or saying things that hurt you. I will always pray for your needs, your healing, and for God to heal any pain that comes into your life. If He wishes to use me, I will make myself available. But I will never assume it is my place to do anything but surrender to Him. If you come to me asking for advice, I will pray for His guidance and His heart. I pray that in our mutual surrender, we will know His peace and joy and have a greater sensitivity to Him and to each other. I pray we both discover those unfathomable depths of His unconditional love.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Least to Be Greatest

For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48b, NIV).

Sometimes the last thing I understand in my Christian life is the importance of taking care of small things. In my heart and mind I may tell myself I am ready to die for Christ, but then I don't live for Him in the small details. A real disciple takes care of every area of his life. He surrenders all in his life which separates Him from God's love.... his actions, his thoughts, his motives, the small details. He makes himself least so that Jesus might become more.

Christ became the least for me. He made himself the least in His father's eyes when He took on my sin. He was perfect in every way. Spotless without deceit or jealousy or hate or bitterness or greed or His own agenda, He said “yes” to His father's plan for saving my life. That acceptance meant the perfect love Jesus had with His own father would be broken, and His father would be unable to look upon the ugliness of my sin in His own son. But Jesus made himself least and gave His life so that sin's ability to destroy my life would be broken. Sin that had forever separated me from God's perfect love was crucified on that cross...once and for all. From the least He became the greatest. He was raised from the dead into newness of life for me. He lives with His father in heaven forever exalted for His sacrificial gift that promises abundant life now and eternal life forever. He may be with His father, but I am not alone here on earth! I have the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and empower my life. All I must do is accept the love that gave His life for me. Daily I surrender to be least so that he might be the greatest.
 
Jesus made the greatest sacrifice. He calls me to lay down all that I am so that I can receive all that He is. I have accepted that call, and I am a disciple of the Savior who gave His life for me. Just as Jesus did for me, I must make myself least for the sake of others. I must learn sacrifice of my own desires. I must overcome prideful wants, agendas, plans, and purposes. I will choose His will above my own. I will learn to be His servant in the least thing, because He became the least for me. Then I may learn to be His servant in the greatest.

KNOWING JESUS

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