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Saturday, November 29, 2014

What I Feel or What I Believe


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


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


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

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Black Friday Like No Other


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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Morning Always Comes


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

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

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


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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

He Brings to Delivery


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

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

Years ago the Lord gave me a verse in Isaiah that encouraged my heart. “'Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the Lord. “'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God” (Isaiah 66:9). The Lord always delivers from painin His perfect time. When the time for delivery has arrived, the Lord doesn't close up the womb! Release from the intense pain will come. The labor, with its pain before delivery, is my lesson to be learned. The intense joy that comes at my moment of delivery is the promise. He protects me from the pain that would be too much for me to handle-from the pain that would utterly destroy me. “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son” (Isaiah 66:7). What I may consider the most devastating pain is not as harsh as it might be. God has protected me. He has made my labor easier than it might have been, and has brought me to the point of delivery from it all.

My trial holds the promise of peace. The tribulation which overwhelms my heart promises release. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36). I shall be confident of His promise of peace. I will hang on and find His will. I shall believe that His promise is real, and that He will richly reward my diligence. During my time of labor I will discover His truths that will encourage my faith in Him, and trust that the delivery will come. I choose to believe that my weeping lasts for only a night, and that His joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5b). I choose to forget the former things, and believe in the promise He has for me (Isaiah 43:18-19). I choose to let go of the former things which have defined me, and believe with all my heart that He has something new for me.

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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Think Right!


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


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

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

We must take responsibility for our own thinking. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV). It is impossible to stop the fiery darts that the enemy throws into our minds, but we can learn to make those thoughts be obedient to what the Word teaches. It is possible to have the power to bring them under the control of the Holy Spirit. This is learned when we practice the presence of God. Our minds are focused on Him, and not where our minds might lead us. This brings His peace in the midst of our storms (Isaiah 26:3).

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Suddenly

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

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


Friday, November 21, 2014

Complete Me


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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

HIs Truth Sets Me Free


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Allow Me


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

FOLLOW HIM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

His Perfected Love


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

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


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


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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

His Power Overcomes Weakness


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

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

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

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




Friday, November 14, 2014

Ask and Forgive in Love

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

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


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Practice His Presence

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

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

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

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

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




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Self-Control is God's Control (Part 2)


In yesterday's devotional we looked at the need to choose life. Today we look at the way in which we choose it. Paul wrote that God’s forgiveness for us on the Calvary is the very the reason that we should choose life. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, 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” (Romans 12:1, NIV). Discipline begins with what God has given us—our own bodies. Each day we move and make choices, each moment is a living sacrifice.


Sometimes we want to be obedient, but still we can’t seem to surrender that one area which plagues us. Yet, if we consider submission as an act of worship, then the option of not submitting becomes blasphemous. When we are obedient, daily decisions are born from our love for God. His desire becomes more important than our desire, because He became a living sacrifice for us. “You were taught with regard to your former way of life,” Paul also wrote, “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 4:22-24). When you are obedient to God's Word, you submit to Him and put on your new self. You are renewed, changed, and transformed (Romans 12:2).


“You were created to be holy like the Lord!” Paul continued. “So put on your new self” (Ephesians 4:24). For our attitudes and our thoughts to be new—for them to ultimately affect our actions—we must put on our new spiritual self daily. True holiness is born because our minds are renewed, and our hearts long to submit to the Lord. Our daily decisions are born of this inner renewal. We can either say yes or no to what we know is right. We choose blessing or curse by our decision. Ultimately we choose spiritual death or spiritual life in Jesus Christ. When we say yes, the Holy Spirit empowers our decision. The daily habit of submitting to God, not only in prayer and study but in thought and action, changes us. We become the new creature God birthed in us at salvation.
 

“Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b, NIV). Surrender your mind to the Holy Spirit and a miracle occurs. The battle to control the actions of your body, having already been won in the spirit of your mind, becomes easier. You become dependent on God's power instead of relying on your own ability. In “The Prayer of Jabez”, Bruce Wilkinson writes, “God’s power, under us, in us, surging through us, is exactly what turns dependence into unforgettable experiences of completeness.” What makes complete dependence upon the Lord an unforgettable experience? Our willingness to submit our spirit to His Spirit and our actual submission of mind and body to His Spirit, releases the power of the Holy Spirit to “complete us”. You never forget when God makes you whole!


Self-control is really not “my” self-control. It is Holy Spirit control. God is faithful to empower my hardest battle and yours, but we must allow Him to make us whole by giving Him every aspect of our lives. When we submit ourselves to be completed by Him, our greatest battle shall no longer be ours. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through,” Paul exhorted. “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NIV). As God changes us, we are made new in the attitude of our mind. The ability to control ourselves is empowered by Him. Self-control truly becomes His control.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Self-Control is God's Control (Part 1)



What is an area of your life where you battle something which controls you? Whatever your battle, and whatever mine, God wishes for us to have one thing in common—a deep longing to be like Christ. As one of the nine fruit of the Spirit, self-control reveals the depth of God's spiritual transformation within us. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a). Whether self-control is real or not speaks just how much control we have submitted to Jesus Christ.

“Now you know what you should do,” Paul reminded the Thessalonians. “It is God’s will that you should be holy. You should be masters of your own body. This brings honor to God. Certainly don’t give away to lust like people who don’t the Lord! Don’t ever forget God has called you be to be pure” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)! We are to honor God by mastering our personal battles. In the very next verse, Paul makes it clear what happens when we refuse. “Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). We either decide for God, or decide for ourselves. Moses instructed the Israelites to choose life or death, blessing or curse (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20). Choosing life in Jesus brings spiritual blessing. When we are out of control, we reject God’s instruction and choose a life without the Holy Spirit. Without discipline we choose death.

Pretty strong stuff, isn’t it? You feel it is impossible? “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach,” Moses told the Israelites concerning God’s instruction to choose life. “It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). If God’s Word is cherished within your heart you have the ability to choose life. Your potential to accomplish the positive is infinite.

Self-control is choosing life. Tomorrow we will look at the way we are transformed by the Holy Spirit through submission. It is our spiritual act of worship. And if we say yes, He can accomplish and control what we struggle with each day of our lives.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Use Your Gift for His Purpose

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, NLT). Spiritual gifts are also mentioned in Romans 12:6-10 and Ephesians 4:11.

You have been given certain spiritual gifts by God. These are gifts that the Lord has chosen for you to help build and edify believers in Jesus Christ. Whatever spiritual gifts God has chosen for you, use each one for the benefit of the body of Christ. When using your spiritual gifts properly and in the way that the Holy Spirit desires, believers are encouraged, trained in righteousness, unified in purpose, and receive a passion to share the Good News that Jesus Christ brings to a lost world.

Whatever gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon you, allow Him to use them in your life. Don't neglect them (1 Timothy 4:14a). Only use them under His divine direction for His purpose. If they are not exercised in His power and in His anointing they will remain fruitless. No one will be edified. His purpose will not be served, and in fact, spiritual damage may be the result. You and I are absolutely accountable for all He has given to us. What we do with each gift and how we use each gift reveals if God's desires are fulfilled or not. If you in humility surrender each gift to His hand, He will use each gift in your life to bring about His purpose. Through each gift, appropriately exercised in His power, lives will change. Believers will seek Him; prayer will become a way of life; the Word will bring life to dry bones, and the church will rise to become His instrument of power for greater service.

Your gifts are just that.... gifts. He has chosen wisely for you. He knows you intimately, but for you to know and exercise the gifts that He has chosen for you, you must know Him intimately. You seek Him, and not the gift. You do not choose your gift. He chooses, and bestows as He wishes because He knows which gifts are the best for you. Love Him only. Open your heart to receive, and use what He pours into you. Don't ever neglect what He has chosen for your greatest potential. When you have experienced what He can accomplish through your surrendered life, you yearn to be consumed by all of His power. You cry out in complete surrender, just as Peter did, “Lord, wash all of me!”

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Come Hungry




“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied” (Luke 6:21a, NIV).



When you come to a feast you come hungry. You haven't eaten much that day in anticipation of what you are going to be offered. You have waited expectantly for that feast, and you can't wait to be filled with it riches. This is just an earthly feast. Its riches do no last. It is there at one moment filling you to overflowing and then gone the next. You have partaken of its earthly bounty, but it has offered no lasting sustenance. Its riches have left you deflated and without purpose. You are empty once more. Like Esau you have filled yourself with the immediate satisfaction of a rich blessing, but have lost the promise of a lasting one.



Jesus' feast is like no earthly one. He prepares a table of spiritual riches that satisfies the deepest spiritual void in your life. His feast isn't devoured in an instant and then gone the next. His feast is everlasting, and the richness of its offering is constant. When you come spiritually hungry to His table for the spiritual feast he has prepared for you, your emptiness is satisfied. Sometimes you come in desperation. Feasting ravenously on His riches, you discover sustenance and help for your time of need. Other times you come with a deep hunger for the life-changing richness that offers joy and peace no matter what your earthly circumstance. Other times you come to just bask in the richness of His glory. But you come. You ingest the richness of His truth, and its nutrition fuels and nurtures your life. Each morsel of His life fills you with what earthly riches could never give. You feast on the unshakeable Kingdom of God―the feast that never ends.



Feast upon His bounty. Feast upon His Word. Feast upon His presence. Feast upon His promise. Feast upon His glory. Feast upon His life given so that you might partake. Come hungry. Feast and be filled.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Abiding

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4, KJV). “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4, NIV). 

Abide. Remain. Whichever word we use, they tell us the same thing. We are to abide and remain in God's presence. It is there where we are transformed, and it is there where we find the sustenance which brings an abundant harvest in our lives. David Wilkerson in his book “Secrets of the Vine” wrote “Abiding is an act of faith―a radical expression that you value God's unrestricted presence in your life more than any immediate sensation. If you think you must always have strong feelings to know that you have been with God, you will go away from your devoted times disappointed. Before long you will say that 'Abiding did not work for me.'” 

Did you catch that statement? Abiding is an act of faith. If you want more of God in your life, you will “by faith” believe He will honor the time that you devote to seeking Him. It it true that the more you want Him, the more you find Him. You might also notice that David Wilkerson uses the word “devoted” time instead of “devotional” time. He does this to emphasize the fact that your time with God is one that should be “set apart” just for Him....devoted only to Him. Your time with God is not just a time to be stirred by a devotional, but a time to be changed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Abiding in God's presence is also not based on feelings. My time with God is the close intimate sharing of a deep personal relationship, and not the tingling sensation of a feeling. Sometimes there will a feeling of joyful wonder in the Holy Spirit, but sometimes not. In my “devoted times”, I draw closer to the the Holy Spirit so that He can transform and prune my life to bring a greater harvest. I will eventually reach a place where abiding in Jesus becomes more than just being with Him during a “devoted time”. My hunger will increase beyond bounds, and I shall discover the truth of what Brother Lawrence, a 17th century “lay Christian” had to say. “I do nothing else but abiding in His Holy presence, and I do this by simple attentiveness and an habitual loving turning of my eyes on Him. This I call... a wordless and secret conversation between the soul and God which no longer ends.” 

If I remain in Him, He will remain in me. If I want to live an abundant life for Him, I must deal with any sin that stands in my way with a relationship with Him. I must be disciplined by Him, and I must repent. If my life is filled with “selfish” things that keep me from discovering my potential in Hm, I must be willing to be pruned so that He can bring forth abundance in my life. In the times of discipline and pruning, He acts and brings pressure to bear to make changes in my life. In the time of abiding, I act.  I choose to abide in Him, and when I do, He abides in me. Abiding “works” in my life when I have allowed Him to discipline me if I have sinned. It works in my life when I have allowed Him to prune things that must be removed or prioritized. If my life is bearing fruit, I can enter into a “Brother Lawrence” spiritual state of abiding that brings a greater joy and assurance that nothing can destroy or touch. Abiding and walking in His Spirit becomes a way of life.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Extending Mercy

Extending Mercy

The grace of Jesus Christ forgave me. Unforgiveness is a disease that eats at your very soul, and destroys your life. In the following parable in John 18:21-35 (the Message) Jesus speaks of unforgiveness and its consequences.

*******

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

*******

One day when I begged for mercy, Jesus Christ forgave me. His grace forgave all my debt. He looked past all that I had doneall that I owed Him, and paid the debt with His life. He looked beyond my fault, heard the cry of my heart, and erased all my debt. I didn't deserve this kind of unmerited favor that would die for me. But grace is not about what I deserve! If it was I would be forever lost in the grip of sin with no hope. Grace is about the greatest love that forgave my sin, and paid my debt in full!

When I asked Jesus Christ into my life, I received His mercy. When someone asks for forgiveness I am called to extend mercy. If He forgave me, how can I not also forgive someone who asks? If I do not forgive others their sins, God will not forgive my sins (Matthew 6:15). Like a flowing stream, grace must never be withheld. It must flow from His life to mine, and from mine to others. If I withhold mercy, I will drown in the stagnant water of my own making. The Holy Spirit will retreat from my life, and I shall be held in the bondage of despair from all that I have lost.

Forgiveness sets me free. It frees my heart and another person's life. It protects me from the prison of unforgiveness where debt seeks payment. Forgiveness keeps my heart and spirit soft and pliable in the hands of the Master who forgave me. When His grace in my life is unconditionally extended, I come to truly understand the love that died for me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

His Word Still Breathes Life


“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (John 1:1-5, NLT).


Before all elsebefore creationbefore the first breath of life, the Word breathed. God was the Word. The Word was not only with the Creator, the Word was Him. God and the Word were one. He was its author and life-giver, its Truth and its purpose. That purpose brought forth His creation, and nothing came into being unless it came through His Truth and His Word. His life-giving Truth became substance, and substance became matter. And His Creation came into existence. His Word gave life to all that He had created. Into man God breathed His own life and light (Genesis 2:7). His light now shines in the darkness, and darkness can never put it out.


Whatever the state of the world around youwhatever controls itwhatever you face in this lifewhatever attempts to strike terror in your heartHis Word still breathes. His Truth still lives through His Word. His light still shines. It can never be extinguished. You are His creation, and Jesus Christ, the light that can never be extinguished, desires to live in you and to breathe life into your existence. If you take Him into your life, and live only for Him, His light shines in you. He becomes your life. That lifeHis lightcan never be put out if you continually seek Him and surrender to His will. His life will live in you foreverjust as His Word will live forever.


His Truth and His Word, continually shine in the darkness bringing His light and life to His creation. No matter what His creation becomes, His Word lives and breathes and lights the world. It can never be extinguished. Do not allow darkness to put out the beautiful gift of His life that God has breathed into you. Let His light shine in you illuminating, revealing, and promising hope. Jesus Christ, through the gift of His own life, has overcome the world. Nothing can ever overcome He who created everything. His Word still breathes life!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Help Me to Perceive Your Truth


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV).

Life is not always 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. I must pray and seek beneath his lies to see God’s truth in each matter. The appearances of people and circumstances do not always reveal what is true. Sometimes my mind can run rampant with wrong perceptions. My mind is where the enemy's lies can take root. But it is also where God's truth and promises can be realized. God wants me to trust what He tells me and not what my mind tells me. He advises that I not hold my own understanding above His own.

The parables Jesus taught are meant to reveal life lessons to those who cannot grasp or believe truth without seeing examples and hearing explanations. There is always a greater spiritual meaning than what my mind may initially perceive. The Lord wishes me to understand His truth in a matter without having to hear or see in order to believe. No matter what the enemy might lie aboutno matter what he might distort or my own mind might conjure up, there is always God's truth that reigns. There is always more beneath the surface that Jesus means for me to understand. He explained this to His disciples in Matthew 13:13-15 when speaking about those He taught. “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 the Holy Spirit really imparts. I don't want to be ever hearing and never understanding or seeing and never perceiving. I want to perceive with an open heart, ears, eyes, and mind all the truth He wishes to reveal through His Word. The Holy Spirit speaks hope to me, and the enemy speaks defeat. Jesus speaks life, and the enemy speaks death. The Lord wishes me to grow so much spiritually that the lies of the enemy cannot distort the truth He reveals. I long for Him to see in me the qualities 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, spirit, and mind. When I seek and allow this intimacy with you, I will be healed in depths of mind, heart, and character that surpass anything I have ever known.

Monday, November 3, 2014

To Love and Be Loved



“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:9,11-12, NIV).

Have you ever felt 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? 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. I am what I think I am (Proverbs 27:3). 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 despair at never quite being good enough, God attempts to break into our negative and pessimistic minds. 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.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child” (1 Corinthians 13:11a). I was once a child. So were you. Those who loved us watched us struggle to crawl or learn to walk. They watched every move we made, expecting to see miraculous change. They rejoiced over us when we achieved a new accomplishment, and they were sad when we failed. We were only little children wanting to me loved for who we were right at that momentnot for any accomplishment. God does not love us because of anything we have done. He loves us because of what He has done for us. When we accept His love, the bondage is broken, and we are able to not only know freedom, but to extend freedom in our expectation of others.
Our Father God longs for our joy to be complete. For us to know His love that breaks bondage we must remain in Him, and love with His love. We are to love others as He has loved us. He has sent us to each other “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1-3,NIV).

May we learn to love as He has loved usto speak life to each heart instead of deathto speak blessing instead of failureto speak joy instead of despairto speak life full of peace and healingto see promise where we have seen failureto believe in what cannot be seen, and to know that one day it will be true. Instead of someone who feels unloved and unable to give that love away, we will become a great “planting of the Lord”one that displays His splendor of a heart that has been set free. We will love as He has loved us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rest


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NIV).


Life sometimes overwhelms. At times it drains and exhausts. When I am tired, life can deplete what little strength I have left. “Come to me,” the Lord whispers. “Bring your weariness from your burdens, and I will give you rest.” I go to Him for perfect rest. But I don't just go. I wait. I seek His presence. I let go of all that pulls me down and drains my heart and spirit. And I stay with Him. I stop all that rushes my mind, races my impatient heart, and disturbs my spirit. I go to Him because I know that He alone is my help in my time of need, and the restorer of all that is broken in my life. He is unchanging in His presence. His love is constant. His comfort is constant. He soothes all that tears me apart. I give Him my weary heart and my burden. I lay them down upon His altar and wait until His peace fills every crevice of my tired and hurting soul. He is my respite from all that would destroy me. He rescues me from my own impatient heart


His rest is fearless. His rest is strength. His rest is patience and peace; my mind is free from thought. Yet in my freedom from thought, my spirit hungers deeply for more of Him. The need to analyze and have answers is gone. His rest supplies all that I lack. His rest is complete, and is all that I need to finish my journey. I rest in Him until He shows me it is time to go againuntil my spirit sings with His strength and purpose.


Whatever your struggle or pain or heartache or want, rest in Him until you are strong again, and your spirit is renewed. Be still and patient; know that He is your God. Leave your burden at His feet. He will lift your head up again. He will raise you up. He will speak hope to your defeated spirit. You are rich in Him, and He will supply all your needs. You, too, will rise again in His strength and purpose.

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...