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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Promise of 3 John 2


Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (NASV).

In 1979 I was told I had cancer. When I read these words, I knew God spoke directly to me. I heard my name placed after “beloved”. I was His beloved. I clung to this verse, and I read again and again that He wished for me to thrive and be in good health. My mind focused completely on these words, and I made the decision that fear was not going to claim my thoughts any longer. As I read and studied the Word, I learned that God had not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. I learned that His love perfected in me casts out all fear. I realized that this verse in 3 John 2 was my direction to be perfected in His love. If my soul grew and thrived in my knowledge of Him, my whole being would thrive, too. I saw this verse as a promise for me. He wanted me to prosper and be in good health. I read the second half of the verse “even as thy soul prospers”. I needed to put down roots and spiritually prosper. I needed deep spiritual roots to know good spiritual health. So my journey to know Him better began.

When your soul thrives and prospers, His promise is for healing for whatever your need. Your soul thrives out of love for Him, and in return you prosper and discover His health. With spiritual growth, you can believe in God’s healing even when you haven’t experienced it, because with a prospering soul, God bestows greater faith to believe. With greater faith you also learn that the healing your mind envisions may not be what God has for you. But it is always for your spiritual best and growth. It is always for His purpose in your life. Because you have prospered spiritually, you can know His peace in the midst of any storm that comes. His perfect love does cast out fear. If you are struggling, latch on to this verse and let it take root in your soul. Study His Word. Seek His truth and purpose. Pray for understanding and wisdom. Grow, and began your own journey. You will realize that with spiritual growth comes your own promise of healing, and the peace to handle whatever life brings.

Friday, January 30, 2015

My Hope


This hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:5, NLT).


My hope is in God. He powerfully created heaven and earth, but He also gave His life so I might have a new life free from sin's control and pain. The Creator of everything humbled himself to become my Savior. Following the Resurrection when Jesus went to be with His Father, God sent the Holy Spirit to teach us the truth of His Word, to encourage and empower, to discipline, prune and guide our lives. He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Will He not provide for me? Will He not heal me? Will He not strengthen me in times of hardship? Will He not be all that I need in each moment if I allow Him to have my fears and problems? The more I hope in His Word‒the more I surrender my attempts at controlling what I am unable to control‒the more I allow Him to take over, the more I will receive the love of the Holy Spirit. The more I hope in Him the more trust grows in me. The more I trust in Him the more faith I receive. No matter how I feel or what I am going through, hope in His love for me never disappoints. My hope will be rewarded. I always receive His best.

I do not need to know answers to everything I face. He knows the answers. As I learn more and more of Him, I will find the answers that I do need, and gain trust in Him to handle what I do not need to know. He is my answer to everything. As I grow in knowledge of Him, I will understand who He really is. I will know Him, and that will be enough. In this moment, I cry out just like the Psalmist, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5, NIV)!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Untroubled and Free Heart


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).

What the Lord gives is not what the world gives. His peace is not the peace caused by calm circumstance. No! His peace is the perpetual calm in the midst of any storm. It is rich, complete, amazing, supernatural, and more than can be described by any pen. It is abundantly given.

The world gives expecting something in return. Often what it gives demands something from you. God gives freely of His love for you. He doesn't demand that you love Him. He doesn't demand that you choose Him. He offers Himself as a living sacrifice, and allows you to decide to accept His love or not. It is amazing that the Creator of the universe‒the Creator of this world‒would give us a free will to choose or reject His love. And when we accept His love, what we return to Him is given of our free will‒offered to Him freely and with no restraint. The greatest peace comes from knowing that the burden you have freely offered to Him is no longer yours to handle. It is His. (Philippians 4:6-7). The world might demand something from you, but never God. He waits for your gift of your life....your struggles...your problems...your needs. He waits for you to let go. He doesn't demand it. And when you finally release what has claimed your heart and mind, His gift is a peace that carries you through whatever life brings. The world could never give this kind of peace to you because the world's peace is based on circumstance. His peace comes from trusting the heart of a Savior who is above all else in this world He created.

Let not your heart be troubled. Don’t let it be afraid. Make room for Him by clearing out the clutter of the world. Stop analyzing, and trying to figure out what only the world offers. Empty yourself of its demands and expectations. Empty yourself of all of you so that you can receive all of Him. Give Him all that troubles your heart and mind. And you shall receive His peace that is above all human understanding. You can have a heart, untroubled and free.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our Tongue


When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:3-6, 9-10, NIV).

A large horse can be guided by a small thing like a bit in its mouth. A ship can be steered by a small thing like a rudder which can easily move its large bulk. Small things make a difference in the larger scheme of life. The tongue is a small, but potent instrument. It can destroy a life or build a life. It can speak hope or it can speak destruction. James compares it to a spark which can start a great forest fire. Our tongue is a small, but powerful tool. To be true servants of Jesus Christ, we must have control over our tongue.

Are you like me and can remember a time when you praised someone only to later say something derogatory? Are you like me and ever said anything you have deeply regretted? No one can truly tame his own tongue. The only way to tame the human tongue is by yielding to the Holy Spirit. We need His power to temper our tongues and give us His wisdom in what we say. The 3rd chapter of James reveals that we can either yield our tongues to our feelings with which the enemy controls us, or we can yield ourselves to God's wisdom that is above all else. The two are as different as night and day.

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Forgiveness at Our Own Coal Fire

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17. NIV).

One morning following the Resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee. The night before Peter had decided to go fishing, and a few of the others had followed him. They had been at it all night with no luck. Jesus now calls to them to throw the net over the other side of the boat, and the net is immediately full. Dragging their fish ashore, they suddenly recognize that it is their Master who has instructed them. As Jesus stands beside a coal fire in the cool morning air, they realize He has prepared them a breakfast of fish and bread.

Try to picture what happens after breakfast. Jesus and Peter are sitting around the fire to keep warm The others must have left, because this is a time for Peter and Jesus alone. Jesus looks into his eyes, and asks Peter if He loves him. He asks him three times, and Peter says he loves Jesus three times. Jesus tells him three times to feed his sheep–to reach others in His name. Jesus knows that Peter's mind is consumed with his denial and failure, and that Peter can't think of feeding the sheep. But that is the mission, and Peter needs to let go of his feelings of unworthiness and failure.

Jesus lovingly takes Peter back to the point of his three-time denial, and tells him it doesn’t matter now. It is no mistake that Peter and Jesus are by a coal fire at this moment. Peter is surely remembering the coal fire where he denied Jesus. But Jesus is saying the it doesn't matter and to stop dwelling on it. “Move on and feed the sheep, Peter,” He says. “If you love me, don’t allow feelings of unworthiness and or failures to stop you.” Jesus longs to take each one of us to the point of our denial—of our failure, and longs for us to know we are healed because of His sacrifice and Resurrection. “Move on in me,” He says to you and to me. 

God was able to mold Peter into a strong leader who would be able to feed His sheep. In his time of faithlessness and failure, Peter experienced his fallen state, only to later experience the power of forgiveness that brings God's power. Your failures do not define who you are in Christ. He defines who you are. You can only realize your potential when you understand He is stronger than your own limitations. You can only experience His mercy and grace when your failure has broken your heart and prepared it to receive His forgiveness. You can only understand God's power in your life when you have learned your own weakness, and submitted all of it to God. Like Peter we are called to share the love of Jesus Christ with His sheep. The depths of the love of God can only be shared by those who have been saved from the depths of their own failure. Ask Him to take all of your failures and your feelings of unworthiness. There by your own coal fire, you will discover the mercy and grace that sets you free.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Always Reaching



“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Philippians 3:12-14, MSG).

One day, many years ago now, Jesus Christ reached out for me. He came to my rescue when I needed Him desperately. I never felt beautiful until He loved me. I never felt accepted until He made my life His own. He had waited so long for me to open my heart and accept His love, but I had held back because of my own failures and feelings of unworthiness. Then one day, I suddenly couldn't handle my life anymore. The moment I opened up my heart to Him, my unworthy life was suddenly one that had value. My failures didn't matter, and it was if they had never been. I was completely newstripped of the old and held safely in His love.

Now, many years later, I look back over a life that has had the privilege of loving and serving Him. There have made many mistakes along the way, but there have also been wonderful blessings in knowing that He has used me to make a difference in someone's life. I've never had it all together for Him, but I have always reached out to the Savior who has continually reached out to me through the hardships of life. Paul's words in Philippians speak to my heart. I press on and will never give up. I will keep my eyes on the goalon Him. He is my goal, and He is my life.

When the end of my life here on earth comes, I want to go out serving Him well. I want to go out giving my life for Him. Yes, I am like others. I want to hear, “well, done”. but more than anything else I want to kneel in the joy of His presence. Today is another day to be off and running for Him. Today is another day to serve and love. I may get older in body and age, but I always pray He will keep my spirit young and alive in Him.

There is no greater love than the love of a Savior, who gave His life for you and me. If you don't know how beautiful you are to Himif your failures are too heavy to carry, He is reaching for you. Open the door of your heart to Him, and He will make all things new for you, too.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Love as He Has Loved Me


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV).

I have been told by my Savior that I am to love as He has loved me. Sometimes I am so involved in my own problems that I miss the problems of others. Sometimes life keeps me so busy that my mind is occupied with just what I am going through. If I love with His love, then self-absorption of my own problems does not fulfill His command to love others. Jesus' love was all about me. My love should be all about others. There is no such thing as selfish love in His kingdom. I cannot love with His love if I only think about myself.

Why do we sometimes not go the extra mile for a hurting brother or sister? Why do we think that someone else will fulfill what Jesus has called us to do? If we are truly His disciples, we will take time out of our busy lives. If we honor the amazing love that died for us, we will reach beyond our comfort zone and care for those who are hurting. His grace came at the greatest cost. We cannot treat His grace as cheap by not living the faith He has wrought in our lives. Faith without works is no faith at all. Faith which is not lived in doing for others is no faith at all.

“As the Father has loved me,” Jesus told His disciples on His way to Gethsemane, “so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his 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. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:9-14, NIV).

The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friend. Do I love with this sacrificing love that gave His life for me, or am I only concerned about my selfish worries? If I will look beyond myself, I will discover that in giving myself away, I will receive the reward of His abiding friendship.





Friday, January 23, 2015

Am I Completely Claimed?


“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Philippians 1:2-3, NIV).

Paul's words stop me this morning. If I truly love Jesus, I complete His joy (thoroughly fulfill my purpose in this life) when I allow His love to direct all my actions. When I share my resources and show compassion to everyone–when, like Him, I become less so that others may become more–when I seek spiritual unity with my brothers and sisters in His love–when I allow His Spirit to work through me, I have made my walk in Him an all-or-nothing decision. He becomes my life's director, my life's purpose, and He claims my surrendered heart. What does my life show? Is it about me or about others? I don’t want to be a part of the “me” generation, but what I do reveals if my attitudes and actions are selfish or if I have put someone's needs above my own. Am I really united with Him in His love? These questions challenge me to examine my life–each moment, each thought, and each action to really see if Jesus is my reason for living.

Is He my anchor–the core of my very being? If He is my heartbeat, then His faith and His love within my heart have nowhere to go but outward. It cannot be inwardly directed or it will destroy me. If He has broken the selfishness of my heart so that I may be filled with His love, then how can I not want my heart to be broken for others? James was explicit when he penned that "faith without works in dead". Likewise, he lets me know that works without faith has little meaning. If I love Jesus, then my life is not about me. It is about the needs of others. My life should reveal the Savior who redeemed me and filled me with His love and promise. I should live His love in each moment, in each thought, and in each action. If He is my first love, then my life will show it.

He knows where I am, and the state of my heart–whether it is completely claimed or unclaimed. Am I ready to be truthful with Him? Am I ready to surrender my selfishness and pride out of love for Him? Am I ready to examine my motions and purpose? Am I ready to let go of my desires and realize that I am called to regard others better than myself? I want my life to speak peace in the midst of any turmoil. I want my life to be a catalyst of healing. I long to be the part of the body of Christ which brings beautiful unity to the whole. The only way I can become all that he wishes me to be is to give Him total control of my life. Today I want to be real with Him so that I can be real with others. I want to become His hands, His feet, His ears, His mouth, His eyes, and His heart.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Joy in Sinking Roots


And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (Colssians 2:6-7, NLT).


Belief,” Paul wrote, “can only come from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, JB Phillips). When you accept Christ as your Savior, you believe His message of salvation. It is real with no complications. You are joyful and on top of the world. Then life happens. The storms come against you, and realize you are not as strong as you thought. Unless you faithfully follow Jesus Christ by growing deep roots that anchor your life to His firm foundation, you will be swallowed up in the waves of life's overwhelming sea. Faith grows by hearing the truth of His Word. For His truth to make a difference and anchor you, you must know it, and apply it to every part of your life. You must structure your life around its teaching. You must allow it to mold you and transform your life in order to have deep enough roots to secure you


Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain” Psalm 127:1, NIV). Unless you grow in His truth and allow it to change your life, your efforts to live in peace and joy–to ride out the storms of life will ultimately fail. You will be weak and have no protection from the enemy's lies that are hurled against you. But there is great hope and promise! Jesus Christ invested all of His life in you so that you might receive salvation, and learn how to live His fulfilling purpose for your life. You had enough saving faith at one time to believe what He offered you. He wants you now to mature in your faith and have a rich spiritual life! Invest your life in His Word. If you do not invest, you will not receive. Allow whatever happens in this life to develop you into a spiritually stronger person by allowing the Word to control your thoughts and actions. Your roots will begin to grow deeper. The Word will speak more to your heart and mind. You will hear His voice, and know that He not only walks with you, but carries you safely over each hurdle you face. Strong in His truth you have learned, your life will overflow with a joy that is complete.







Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do Not Fear


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

Do not fear. Don’t allow it in your heart. It is evil, and destroys all hope. Fear can’t live where His love and faith abound. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, NIV).

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

This world lives in fear. You are perfected in His love, and do not need to live in fear. Fight it. Refuse to allow it into your mind. God has not given you a spirit of fear. He has given you power, and with His perfect love, a sound mind that can overcome any fear which rises up against you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hold On for Complete Joy


“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4, NLT). 

In my email in-box this morning, I discovered these verses from Biblegateway. Someone needs a message today to keep holding on, and never give up. This devotional is for you. and I pray that it encourages you. The testing of our faith produces great joy. It also develops perseverance.These verses say that if we allow perseverance to work in our life we will be complete in our faith and not lack anything in hard times. That is a powerful thought. There is a work going on inside us, and it can only be completed through commitment and perseverance. Spiritual growth discovered through perseverance has the power to create a joy that nothing can shake. When we have fought to learn His lesson and we have won, there is no joy like the joy of victory. Patient endurance is what we need, and if we press on to do His will, then we will receive all that He has promised (Hebrews 10:36).

The Lord’s desire is for faith to spring up in the midst of our suffering. It is our decision whether the lesson is learned. Trials and suffering should inspire spiritual growth. “These have come,” Peters imparts, “so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:7, NIV). The testing of our faith during hardship is meant to create the ability to persevere. It is our decision whether we allow His refining fire to purify and strengthen our life.

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face,” Paul writes. “All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG). God knows our limit and will never give us more than we can handle. His grace is more than sufficient, and He will provide the strength to stand. We can either be adrift in fear, or we can allow God to anchor us in faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). We press on through the hardship of life in order to believe in that we can’t touch or see.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in (or wait upon) the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV). We can soar above the trials of life. We can run and not be weary. All that we must do is allow perseverance to complete its work so that we will be completely mature and not lack anything in our spiritual lives (James 1:4). Joy then becomes something not built on circumstance, but on a faith that is full and complete.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I WILL PRESS ON



Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).


I will have courage and not fear. Today I start again, and put my old mistakes behind me. He gives me a fresh beginning. I will not worry or be frightened. If His forgiveness was only for the righteous, it wouldn't be needed. Not one of us is perfect. We all have fallen short. But His forgiveness is new every morning.

So why do I worry? He longs to give me that fresh beginning, but my life is dirtied with worry and anxiety. As long as I dwell on what is bad in my life, I cannot see His promise of new life. He wants to help me so much, but why would He when my fears crush whatever He tries to do? In spite of my past or circumstance, He wishes to grace my life daily with His power and His blessing. I need to persevere and press on so that His grace transforms my life into a joyful one that continually receives.

I press on toward my prize to be all that He wishes. I forget what has been, and I praise Him for transforming my life. I shall be joyful and realize that with this new beginning, I once more step out in faith to trust and believe in His promises that never fail.  I press on to be molded into a vessel He can use for His purpose. If I reach for Him every day of this life, He will remain with me, intervening in my life to bring about His best. One day He will carry me heavenward to the greatest of all prizes-a life peacefully and eternally at rest with Him.

I will have courage. I will not fear. I will press on.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Abundant Fulfillment



“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2. NIV).

In “Secrets of the Vine”, Bruce Wilkinson shares truths that Jesus imparted to His disciples the night before His crucifixion. They were some of His last words to His faithful followers before the Garden of Gethsemane. In John 15 we read His last words, and realize that Jesus was imparting what was expected in each life. Each disciple was called to bear fruit. Each life had been created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus knew He would soon be gone, and He wanted each one of them to know the importance of His purpose for their life. He knew that sometimes His mission for them would be hard, but He also knew that it was only in His mission that they would discover their ultimate fulfillment in life. Jesus knew that a life with “no fruit” would ultimately destroy the work He had begun, and also destroy faith in each life. In the Upper Room only minutes previously He had told them shocking news of denial and betrayal, and that he was going to leave them. He had also told them that they would not be left alonethat the Holy Spirit would come to comfort and empower them. But now their whole world was crumbling, and all He could speak to them about was bearing fruit for the Kingdom. It was a message that was meant to carry them in abundant fulfillment through this life into the next.

Jesus' last words are for us, too. Jesus is the grapevine that springs from the earth and grows thick like a trunk ending in a knot at about four feet in height. We are the branches that spring from that knot and are supported by trellises that keep us from destruction on the ground below. God is the keeper of the vineyard. He trains how the branches grow, and keeps them supported by His trellises of truth. He cuts off each branch that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes branches that already produce fruit to yield even more. If our lives do not yield any fruit, He will intervene to discipline us. He disciplines us when there is sin that must be addressed. When self is an issue, He prunes us back to bring forth greater yield. That pruning of self is necessary. Letting self go in absolute surrender to His purpose in our lives is what He desires. Both discipline and pruning can be hard, but are necessary to produce the greatest bounty in our lives. Whether we can grasp it or not to be remade in Himto be transformed in the renewing of our mindbrings the greatest joy in our lives. We grow closer to Him and lack nothing in our knowledge of what He wishes to accomplish through us.

In Sunday school we are beginning a study of “Secrets of the Vine”. Our purpose is to discover how God can use our lives for His greatest impact. We long to produce the greatest harvestthe greatest yield. It is abundant life to the fullest. Bruce Wilkinson's calls abundance “the beautiful overflow of true worth in a person's life”. It is what we were created for. Jesus knew this and shared this great last truth with His disciples on the way to fulfill God's purpose for His life. How can we not discover what it means for our own?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Forsaken for Me


At three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34. NIV).


That moment He turned from you, Lord Jesus, because He could not look upon my sin–how completely deserted and alone you must have felt. You had always had His love and His heart had always beaten within you, and suddenly that heart was ripped from you. You, His beautiful Son who had no sin, became filled with all the sin of the world. You were only fulfilling your mission–taking my sin upon you and giving your life for me. You were only doing His will–what He required of you. On the cross you bore my sin which separated me from your Father. The sin which had separated me now separated you, His perfect Son. For me, Lord Jesus, you paid the greatest price. You were forsaken for my sake.

You, who had always been one with the Father, now born my sin alone. How the weight of all the sin of the world must have pulled against the nails trying to support you! In those hours of painful terror, how all the demons of hell must have laughed and tormented you with cries of “where is your Father now and why does He not save you?” Like the Psalmist, you must have cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish” (Psalm 22:1, NIV). But you knew the reason, and you paid the price for me.

Your love, Lord Jesus, your mercy and your grace–all these took you to the cross for my sake. The moment you died on the cross for my sin, the wall which had always separated me from the Father, was torn. Now I can approach Him in my times of need because of your sacrifice. Three days following the gift of your life, the Father raised you from the dead so that I too might have a new life by receiving your love into my heart. I can be free from sin's control because of your grace. I can be free because you were forsaken for me. “Well then,” Paul wrote, “should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (Romans 6:1-4, NLT).

Just as He raised you, Lord Jesus, He raises me, to new life! Sin shall not be master over me. I receive the price you paid for me. I receive your grace. Thank you for fulfilling your purpose and for doing the Father's will. Praise you, Lord, for being forsaken for me.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Think About Him


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

Never dwell on your fear, your illness, or your worry. Dwell on God's enduring faithfulness. He never changes, and He will never fail or forsake you. Think more of Him, and less of what you face in this life. He is your healer. He is your strength. He is the greatest problem-solver. Don't analyze. Dwell upon Him. He is your rock no matter what comes against you. Keep your mind steadfastly grounded in Him, and stand firmly anchored in His strong foundation. He is your power to overcome any adversity. He is all you need at any moment. Trust Him.

Even those who are His most faithful children do not always claim His healing and strength. Claim healing for your body, your mind, and your spirit. Claim His strength for all that comes against you. Love Him completely, and always dwell on Him. Where your mind focuses, your heart follows. Release to Him the thoughts that rise to destroy you. He will be your strength for every weakness, and the shepherd who protects at all cost. He will handle for you what you are unable to handle. Think about Him. Then no weapon that rises up against you will harm you. You will know perfect peace no matter what happens in this life. Now think about that promise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Love as I Have Been Loved


“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” 1 John 4:20-21, NIV).

These are powerful words, and they should make me stop and look at my relationships with others in my life. If I love God, then I must love others. If I cannot love those who are in my lifeno matter how they act or treat methen I cannot love God.“So now I am giving you a new commandment,” Jesus said. “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34, NLT).

Am I convinced that I truly love God but have bitterness, resentment, hatred, anger, jealousy, or some other facet of unforgiveness in my heart against another person? If this is the case and I believe all is well in my love for Jesus Christ, then I am highly mistaken. I have not allowed the unconditional love extended to me on Calvary to change my heart and mind. Just like the servant, who when forgiven by His master, I cannot extend forgiveness to another. I face the loss of what I have received. My love for God proves to be in name only. “Forgive,” Jesus says, “as I have forgiven you” (Luke 6:37). Forgiveness is not an option. Loving others is not an option. Calvary is not an option. But Calvary cannot become my life until I allow its love to transform me.

Allowing Jesus Christ to change my heart and mind begins when I give Him complete access to those areas of my life that I have tried to hide from Him. When I allow His light to shine into areas where ugliness has ruled, I have to face just how ugly they have been. I have to honestly examine them and ask forgiveness for the free reign I have given them. I am not allowed to hang on to them, and allow them to grow and fester. If I do not allow the Holy Spirit to transform my heart and cauterize these areas of unforgiveness, I will remain bound in despair and tormented by my own prison.

How can I claim to love God if I cannot love another? If I cannot forgive with His love, then how can I be forgiven? “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love,” Jesus said (Luke 7:47). Jesus showed me the greatest love. He gave His life to forgive me. I have been forgiven everything, and I will love as He has loved me.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Deeply-Rooted


“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners,or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (Psalm 1:1-3, NLT).

There is great joy for those who delight in God's Word and follow its precepts. It is not a joy the world gives, because the world doesn't offer anything that lasts. The things it offers wither and die. Circumstances change, and with those changes we are emotionally blasted with feelings that change just as much. Life becomes a roller coaster ride of extreme highs and extreme lows. When our roots run shallow in His Word and run shallow in faith, we become like a ship on a sea of life's rough waters with no anchor.

Our choices determine our lives. If we won't listen to and follow those who give advice which is contrary to God's Word, we shall put down stronger roots of faith. Our company affects our actions. If we don't hang around with those who mock Him and sin against Him, peer pressure will not tempt us to let go of our faith. Instead we need to surround ourselves with those who love and live for Him. Our faith will be encouraged; our roots of faith will grow deeper and stronger anchoring us to His sure foundation.

Like trees along the riverbank that produce a bountiful harvest in season, a bountiful harvest of fruit can also burst forth in our lives. Sinking roots deeply in Him, we can draw nourishment from what He alone provides. No matter what life brings–no matter our highs or lows, we can have peace in the midst of hardship. We we can be rooted strongly in Him by living a righteous life. He “provides 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 61:3, NIV).

I wish for my life to be like that of an oak which stands strongly against the storms of life. To know His joy through rough waters, I will be deeply and firmly rooted in His truth. I will follow His Word, and listen to His direction. I will delight in His Word and in His presence. Surrounding myself with those who inspire my faith, I will determine to grow in His grace. My life was created to bear fruit–not just a little fruit, but the abundant fruit of His love, joy, and peace. It was created to bear His fruit of patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. My life was created to be anchored in Him and planted in Him so that I might be a witness of His glory to others.

I find the greatest joy in living for Him! It is fulfillment beyond anything my human mind can fathom! I may cry because of circumstance, and I may weep from loss. My leaves and limbs may be shaken fiercely by things beyond my control, but I know, whatever life brings, that being deeply grounded in Him, I shall stand strong.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nothing Without Him

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13, NLT).
When Paul wrote these words, he did not mean that he was to do all things and then rely on the Lord to find strength. He meant that for all he was told to do by the Lord, he could rely on the Holy Spirit to supply strength. The Lord's strength is discovered in surrender of our own will to His. It is found in allowing our weaknesses to be used for His purposes.
The work of the Holy Spirit has been hindered by our own work. Self-driven work finally wears us thin, and we burn out. Self has driven out the Spirit, and the strength that is offered. The Holy Spirit should not only be our direction, but our strength. We are to yield to Him, and wait for the strength He supplies. Like a tiger waiting to burst upon its prey, our spiritual muscles should be tightly coiled ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. We lie still in anticipatory rest until He has called us forth in His strength.
What does it mean to be still and know that He is God? Those that wait upon the Lord shall not only renew their strength, they shall mount up as eagles. The Lord shall be the wind beneath their wings winging them to new heights. That wind is constant, never wavering of faltering. It is as sure as He is the cornerstone, our foundation. It supports all that we are, and in every way supplies strength for His calling, for our need, for every moment, every concern. That strength is our heartbeat, and we cannot exist without it.
When we become tired and fear suddenly closes around our heart, we wait for the Lord until we are joyful again─until His strength has become our own. Our time of anticipatory rest should be one where His strength is renewed. We never seek to work for Him, but only with Him. Discovering that constant wind of His Spirit, we shall be carried to new heights in His strength. If we live with Him and abide in Him, He will open doors for His own purpose in our lives. We will know that in our own weakness, He is strong...that we can do nothing without Him.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

An Abundantly Fulfilled Life

In one more week Heart to Heart Sunday School Class begins Bruce Wilkinson's “Secrets of the Vine”. I am excited to study Christ's last message to His disciplines right before His death. Jesus speaks of principles that lead to an abundant life in Him, and declares that He is the only way to discover such an overflowing life. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” Jesus imparts in John 10:10. This is what we were born for–to live a surrendered life that overflows abundantly with His purpose.
 
Jesus offers abundant life for earth, and abundant life for eternity. This is the reason He came. To give His life for us! To give us life instead of death! To give us victory instead of defeat! To speak peace instead of turmoil! To bring rest in the midst of the storms of life! To use us for His glory! Jesus Christ came so that we may know overflowing life in Him, and produce an abundant harvest of faith not only in our lives, but in those of others. He sacrificed all He was for all the ugliness that we are. In His gift to us He becomes the vine that empowers. We are the branches. When the life of the vine flows into ours, we bring forth new growth! We flourish in His presence. Our being becomes one with His.
Being one with Him yields abundant fruit in your life! He is Love. Joy. Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control (Galatians 5:22-23). He is everything you cannot be alone. When you are one with Him, you lack nothing. His life flowing through your veins is all you need. Abide in Him, and look to Him, the author of your faith. “I am the Vine,” He says, “you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit” (John 15:5a, AMP). It is only in Christ that you can have the greatest love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is only through Him that your life produces an abundant harvest. You must abide in Him, and allow Him to discipline and prune your life to bring forth His true worth. It is only then you will discover an overflowing and fulfilled life.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Choose Forgiveness

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37, NIV).

Have you ever been hurt? I have. Does your heart feel cold and hard when you remember what someone has done? Mine has felt that way. Have you been unable to forgive? I have been there, too. But through the years I have learned that the inability to forgive is like a terrible cancerous disease. It eats at your spiritual health and ultimately destroys your relationship with God. Because God has given us a free will to either choose or reject Him, we also have a free will to either forgive or not to forgive. 

In today's verse in Luke, Jesus explains that if we don't judge, we will not be judged. If we don't condemn, we will not be condemned. If we forgive, we will be forgiven. Isn’t the inability to forgive really judgment of that person? Our hurt and our pain does not give us a license to judge that person. It does not give us a license to allow anger and hate to consume our hearts. In fact Jesus explains in Luke 6:35-36 that we are to “love our enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” We are to love those that hurt us. We are to extend goodness. We can't harbor bitterness. It will only breed more hurt and devastation within our own lives. We forgive without expecting anything in return. Those we forgive may not receive our forgiveness. But we are to be merciful anyway. Just as Jesus forgives us, we forgive others.

When we are devastated by someone's action, we have a choice what to do with the hurt and the bitterness. If we allow that hurt to define who we are, that pain can immobilize us We find ourselves in bondage to our bitterness and hate. It directs our lives, and consumes our waking and sleeping moments. Jesus wants us to be free of the controlling terror of unforgiveness. The Holy Spirit invites us to forgive so that we might be free from its bondage. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 3:17). God does not want us in bondage to our hurt. If we know the Lord, we have the freedom and the power to forgive.

I once heard the parents of a murdered girl speak of forgiving her murderer. They talked freely about letting the anger go, and wanting to be free of the burden of being victims. They wanted to move forward and not be in an emotional prison. They knew they needed to let go of their pain, and surrender the burden of wanting to get even. They had the freedom to choose either bitterness or forgiveness. With Christ's power they were able to forgive. With His power, we can make the same decision.

We become exhausted holding on to the pain of unforgiveness. Grabbing on to the bars of our emotional prison, we shake and demand our jailor to release us. The truth is we have jailed ourselves. We keep asking God to release the pain, and all along we have had the key to open the door. With the power of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness sets us free. Are we ready to be released from our bondage of resentment, bitterness, anger, hurt, frustration, hatred, and all that claims a hard heart? If we choose to let all unforgiveness go. His power will enable our choice and transform our heart. We, who He has set free, will truly be free.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sanctuary


He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4, NIV).

The Lord is my sanctuary–a place of safe retreat. He is not only my refuge from life's greatest fears, but He is my refuge from my own self. I may be able to retreat from others, but I can never hide from myself–from my own failures, my sins, my weaknesses, and my own limitations. Sometimes there seems to be no relief in the battlefield of my mind. But in the early morning hours I read this verse, and discover that He is my sanctuary. He is my shield and rampart. He hides me under His wings until I forget my limitations, and my failures–until my own sins are washed away and remembered no more. He hides me until sweet relief from my own sense of failure and shortcomings fills my heart. He hides me until the relief of His grace brings great joy. In that moment of complete relief, I have released all that I have been to Him. His Spirit sweeps over me. Praise flows, and His strength to conquer inhabits all of me. I can rise to win the battles that daily come against me. There is no fear in His perfect love. I am completely and amazingly free.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Living Sacrifice–My Greatest Investment


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” (Romans 12:1, NIV).

What does it mean for me to be a living sacrifice? What I do–who I am–how I think–how I react–the way I live my life reveals whether I honor the sacrifice of the Savior I have taken into my heart. Jesus sacrificed all of Himself for me. He was my living sacrifice. I worship and honor Him by becoming a living sacrifice for Him. There is nothing I can sacrifice for Him that is as great as what He gave for me. He asks me to live an obedient life. I have learned that my obedience is greater than any sacrifice that I might make.

I can sacrifice anything for the wrong reason, but when I am obedient to His will in what I sacrifice I make His sacrifice the defining reason for my obedience. When His sacrifice completely and totally defines what I am–who I am–how I think–how I react–the way I live my life, a humble spirit has claimed my selfish human heart. A humble spirit is a surrendered spirit. It follows without question whatever God asks. A disobedient spirit rises from a prideful heart. Longing for personal acceptance by others, a disobedient spirit says “no” when the sacrifice calls for complete surrender. A truly obedient spirit reveals respect for the cost of Jesus’ sacrifice, and goes where disobedience never will— into the very heart of God. This is where the joy of obedient sacrifice is discovered–in His presence. I find His joy when I have surrendered all of my life to His will.

If I wish to reap the joyful abundance of His Spirit, then I must invest all of myself by living an obedient life.“Remember this,” Paul wrote, “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV). How much do I invest my life in Him? Do I give Him all of myself or just a part? What do I withhold? I can never know the joy of giving out of love for Him until I live the life He asks me to live. His joy is discovered in giving as He gave His life for me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Greatest Love


My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13. NIV).

I am to love as He has loved me. And how much did He love me? He loved me enough to die for me. There is no greater love than this. To give the gift of your own life so that another might live is the greatest surrender of all. You hold nothing back. Jesus held nothing back on the cross. His death for my sake was the greatest sacrifice. He gave His life so that I could live with Him forever. He, who had never experienced sin, took my sin upon himself so that I might be free from sin's control. His love for me was all about obedience to His Father and sacrifice for my sake. It was all about love for me.

In John 15 we read Jesus' last words to His disciples before He lays down His life. His whole life up to this point has been one of preparation for the time of obedient sacrifice....the time He knew was drawing near. During three years He has spoken of God's love and demonstrated it in miraculous ways. But what He is about to do demonstrates the greatest love that can be given. The disciples do not understand it at this moment in their lives, but Jesus knows that they will understand soon. He knows that His words mean nothing unless He gives what His Father has called Him to give. He must give the ultimate gift of love so that they might believe and experience the love of God. Jesus tells them, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9-11, NIV).

To love others as He has loved me is not an option. It is His command for my life. If I will remain and abide in His love–if I will daily surrender my life to Him–if I will be renewed daily by His power–if I will give myself away for the sake of others as He has given His life for me, my joy in this life and in the next will be complete. What is my love for Him? Do I sacrifice as He sacrificed for me? Am I obedient as He was obedient for me? If He is my Savior and I have accepted the gift of His love for me, then I must live His love. I must hold nothing back in my love. I must give as He gave His life for me. I I must give up my wants and desires, my selfish attitude, and understand that to love with His love is never about me. There can be no “me” if I love with His love. There can only be Him. He is the greatest love.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Choosing Grace's Freedom


“Sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end” (Romans 5:20b-21 MSG).

“You have been set free from sin,” Paul writes, “and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 16:18, NIV). Because of Christ's love for me, I have freedom from sin's clawing bondage. I am no longer in slavery to my own desires, but to His. Where sin wishes to increase in my life, His grace increases more. His grace is sufficient to hold me safely in Him, and is sufficient for my every need. It invites me each day to choose His goodness, His love, His righteousness, His power, and His freedom! I choose everyday that sin will not be master over me. I choose His graceI choose unmerited favor over any bondage. He meets my choice to live for Him with His power.


The only true freedom I can ever know will be found in Him. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36, KJV). I love the King James Version that says “free indeed”. Other versions say “through and through”. If He has freed me from sin, then I am FREED from sin. It is a complete worknot partial, but a finished work. His work in me will always be one that calls for obedience and perseverance. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4, NASV). If I persevere to grow in His grace, I will not lack in His power to sustain me. The power of His grace can be true in my physical life. My deliverance from sin's bondage can be appropriated by faith in Him who saved me from myself. I can discover the depth and power of His grace! For this work to be complete in me, I choose each day to live a righteous life, and not one that will destroy my faith. Sin will not be master over me if I daily choose not to be its slave.


My deliverance from sin's control is found in the redemptive work of His grace, and that grace grows in my life through obedience, through knowing and living His Word, through prayer, and through the power of His indwelling Spirit. His grace takes me where the Word is no longer a book of rules and regulations that must be followed. Grace makes the Word a gift that offers freedom in His Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6b). His grace shall always prevail through any battle so I might stand strong against any threat of sin. It shall always empower me to choose His freedom over bondage to sin. If He makes me free, I am indeed free through and through!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Call and He Answers


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

This verse in Jeremiah is an incredible promise. But it is more than that! It is an absolute truth found in God's 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 in Him. He brings the same power to your need that He used to raise Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-21). He is able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine in what you have surrendered to Him (Ephesians 3:20). There is no other name that you need, but that of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

He answers your call with great and unsearchable things which you have not known. You may not understand them all with your human mind, but your spirit can receive them because you know that He only imparts truth. You do not analyze His truths. You believe them by faith, and you trust by faith. One day you may understand the truths that are beyond your grasp at this time, and one day you may not understand. Because you love Him deeply and intimately as He has loved you, there is peace in either knowing or not knowingin understanding or not understanding. You believe 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 surrounds you.

It is when you want all of Him, and have given up all of your own conditions, you can receive not only the unsearchable truths He imparts, but most gloriously, His abiding presence. The unsearchable truths are beyond magnificent, but they can never be who Jesus Christ is–your Redeemer, your Savior, your Friend. Open up your heart and life to Him right at this moment. Call to Him. Pray to Him, and He will answer you not only with His presence, but you will receive powerfully and completely from His magnificent bounty.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Sleep in My Peace


“He grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2b, NIV)

In these night time hours, my child, I watch you sleep. I am with you. Your mind is finally at peace from the struggle of your conscious moments. It has given up its fight to remember and process all the events of your day. There is no fear or worry or terror of the things you have finally allowed me to take from you. Some nights your sleep is troubled, and you can't release your worries to me completely. You toss and turn, and even have dreams that consume your heart and mind. But tonight you found peace in letting go of any attempt to analyze and control. You finally gave me all your worries and concerns, and allowed me to handle what you were never created to handle. You finally released all the struggle to figure out the seasons of your life, and allowed my peace to claim your heart. You no longer had to worry or be fearful. You received my perfect love which cast out all your fear. When you finally closed your eyes in sleep, my peaceful presence guarded you.

Waking or sleeping, I watch over you to guard you in all your ways, but you do not know it or reap the peaceful reward of my control until you surrender. I grant sleep to those I love–not a fretful and anguished sleep, but sleep that refreshes and renews for the next day's struggles, events, and even joys. In your conscious moments, keep giving me your fears. Keep giving me your worries. Keep releasing all that consumes your mind and heart. I will take over. You may not realize it at first, but keep choosing to release all to me, and my peace will eventually claim all of your mind. When you fall asleep at night, your sleep will be one of complete release and refreshing in me.

Let menot your worrybe your last thought before sleeping. Keep your mind focused on me, and not what your conscious life entails. Keep your thoughts upon me as you close your eyes to rest. Give me your tired life. Give me your worries and your analyzing mind, and I will grant you the rest and peace that you need. Surrender control. I am your life, and I have designed your life for my best. Allow me to have all of you so you can receive all of me.

Praise me. I am faithful. I will not leave you or forsake you. I am with you. Be not afraid. I have overcome your world. I am your world. When you lay down all your struggles of the day, I am your sleep and your renewing peace. You have me. Sleep, my child, in the peace, that I have prepared for you, and wake tomorrow with my joy to live your day.

(Philippians 4:6-7, 1 John 4:18, Psalm 91:11, Psalm 127: 2, Isaiah 26:3, Hebrews 13:15, John 16:33)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Life Happened to Me


“The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:5-9, NIV).



I wrote a devotional several days ago about life happening. Last night life happened to me. When I got home after my life-happening experience, I found these verses in Psalm 116. They explained perfectly what God had done for me. A half hour earlier I had experienced His gracious compassion and His protection in a way I had not anticipated. After church I was hit by another vehicle. As I felt the impact, I sensed His divine presence surrounding me, holding back injury and protecting me from harm. His supernatural peace filled my mind, and I watched the accident happen without worry or concern. I was safe in His embrace. In that one second, I knew I was His, and He had this shocking circumstance completely in His control. My friend, Melanie, was following me when it happened. The Holy Spirit supplied her to be my strength and shelter after the accident was over. These verses in Psalm 116 describe exactly what I experienced. I knew He had delivered me from death. Immediately following the accident, I did not fall apart. He kept my eyes from tears. I walked and talked calmly to the police and paramedics. He kept my feet from stumbling. By His grace, I am here today and walk securely in His presence in the land of the living.


We never know when life will happen. We never know when these sudden moments will come out of nowhere. You can't know God's presence in these sudden fearful times unless you have practiced His presence in all your moments. Seek Him; know Him, and obey Him in whatever He asks. He loved you enough to give His life so that you might life. Love Him in all your moments.


“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).



The Lord is my life, and last night He protected mine. I love Him with every breath that I take.



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...