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Friday, February 27, 2015

Living His Love

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NIV).
There are very few places in the world that have not heard about the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. But what the world needs is not just to hear about His love, but to experience it. Many Christians speak about Him and try to share Him with others, but are surprised when their words have little impact. They are only words spoken about Him. They are not His words living through them.

The world needs to see Him in my life. It doesn't need to hear about His power, but it needs to experience it through me. It doesn't need to hear about His peace, but it needs to see it alive in me. It needs to see His calming faith no matter what the circumstances. It doesn't need to hear about His joy, but it needs to see His joy spring up from depths of sure trust in His faithfulness. It doesn't need to just hear of His love, but it needs to experience the forgiving grace of His love through me.

If I allow Him to live in me, those in my little world will discover they will make a choice. They shall either accept Him or reject Him. If I have allowed Him to live and love through me, they will have experienced His power and His love, but it is not my place to save. I can't choose Him for someone else. It is my place to share and be changed by what He has done in my life. If I am His vessel, one that is broken and spilled out for Him, He will do the work.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

No Need to Hide

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139:7-12, NIV).

There is no place where I can hide from your presence. You are everywhere I turn. You are everywhere I try to find relief that is not from you. Why do I look where I already know there will be no lasting answer? Why do I try to flee from what I know is the best for me? Why do I insist on my own way? How could I have forgotten that you you will always find me? 

If I think the darkness will hide my pain from you, I am so wrong. If I believe the darkness will conceal the struggles of my sinful heart, then I am wrong. I may hold myself captive with bitterness, hurt, anger, and resentment in a darkened place of no hope, but you are with me no matter where I might try to hide. You are with me in that place. You are with me waiting for me to release all of it to you.

Lord, forgive me. I am so tired of holding this mask in place. I am so tired of fighting my battles alone. I give them all to you. You will carry me safely through the consuming fire of fear, and give me hope. You will strengthen me with your mighty hand. I am so thankful that nothing is hidden from you. It is in the sweet light of your presence that all is revealed. You bestow power to let go of the struggle to hide what you already know. The moment I release what I have tried so desperately to hide is the moment when I am free from what has consumed and controlled my life. I have your peace which is above my understanding, and there is no need to hide.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

If I Draw Close to Him

Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8a, NIV).

If I draw near to God, He is near me. This is a promise that never fails! If I seek Him, I will find Him. This verse is more that just a promise to feel His presence. It is a requirement to live a spiritually mature life trusting that when I draw close to Him, He is there to take care of me. In every fearful moment or problem or trial or circumstance, I immediately turn to Him. Even when I can't voice the words, He hears the cry of my heart, and lifts me from the despair that drowns me.

At times I cry out in my brokenness, but there is no need for me to say anything. There is no need for me to plead desperately. There is no need to make vain promises for Him to hear. Before a word is on my lips, He knows my need. All I must do is come to Him and He stills my racing heart and terrifying thoughts. At His feet I lay down my fears and burdens. When I draw close to Him, He always comes near to me. His help comes in answer to my heart's need.

Not only does His help come, but He is with me. It is a sweet closeness of His spirit with mine which always brings peace no matter what happens. If I draw close to Him, I shall never fear. If I draw close to Him, He is constantly with me. If I draw close to Him, He is my strength and my deliverer. If I draw close to Him, He is my answer for all the questions of life. If I draw close to Him, He fills my life with peace and joy. He is everything I need.....if I draw close to Him.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Perseverance–A Life Changer

You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

When it is possible to spiritually grow the most? Certainly not during times that are easy and demand nothing of you. You grow when your faith is tested during times of hardship. Trials serve a purpose. They have the ability to teach an important character trait−perseverance. You can have commitment in your life, but commitment means nothing without the ability to remain strong no matter what comes against you. Perseverance completes a work in your life. Persevering during trial shapes and molds you as you surrender to God's higher purpose. Trials are not enjoyable. They can be painful, “but afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11b, NLT). Times of hardship are meant to prune your character and change the way you live–the way you face life–the way you handle new problems–the way you respond to others–the way you think. They give you a spiritual maturity that produces a fruitful harvest of peace no matter what life brings.

Joseph was trained by trial and hardship. Sold into slavery by his brothers, he faced desertion by his family and loss of freedom to live his own life. When his master's devious wife attempted to seduce him, his faith was tested and ultimately strengthened when he refused her advances, and endured her lies. Persevering in prison, his faith still grew stronger. God was with him shaping and molding his character. Joseph was ultimately rescued from his life of slavery and prison, and given the position of second in command in Egypt. When handed the opportunity to take action against his his brothers for selling him into slavery, he had no revenge in his heart. He had learned God's lesson of forgiveness and greater purpose through all he had endured. “You intended to harm me,” he told his brothers, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph saw a greater purpose in his trial, and realized that God had placed him in his position to provide a harvest of sustenance for his own people at this time in their history.

Do you persevere and allow the trials of life to mold your character? “We also rejoice in our sufferings,” Paul wrote, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3–4). Perseverance develops character, and character produces hope. Hope inspires you to endure. Never struggle emotionally against a trial. If the Holy Spirit guides you in ways to change your circumstance, then it is His purpose to use you to change it. But you can never change a circumstance which is is beyond your control. Joseph understood this. Let your trial build perseverance in your life. When perseverance has finished its work, you will be spiritually mature, and able to stand against whatever life throws at you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

You Know Me

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand”(Psalms 139:1-6, NLT)!

To realize that I am known so greatly and so deeply goes beyond my limited human understanding! I open up my heart to you, God, and my soul yearns for you to continually search me. I thirst for you, my living God, with an unquenchable thirst. You are the living God! I cannot move without you knowing it! Every step that I plan may be formed in my mind, but your Spirit directs my steps. My thoughts are not as high as your thoughts, but you know and understand them because you became human for me. You understand me, your creation, because you became one with me in your suffering for my sake. You know when I am at ease and when I am distraught. You know when I have the faith to move mountains, and when I need rest to be revived. You are familiar with every part of me. Before I even speak, you know what I am going to say. Because you know my heart, you know if it is pained or if is rejoices. You know if I will speak life because of great joy, and you know when I face the temptation to speak death because of great despair. You know my potential beyond what I can ever perceive.

You are my greatest advocate! Why do I ever become downcast? I can again hope in you. Because you know me and created me, I am yours, and you are mine. Lord, today, I pray for my words to only speak your life. I pray right now before a word is ever spoken, that my words are directed by you, Holy Spirit. I long to have a joyful heart that speaks life. You discipline me, Lord, and guide me in the right direction. You chastise me when I fail, and you encourage me when I succeed. You have placed your hand upon my life, and I always aware of your steady pressure. Your love and call is too much at times for me to even fathom. It is too incredible to even understand why you have loved and chosen me as your own.

You will always search for me, Lord. I pray I will always allow you to find me.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

No Greater Fulfillment

'My heart, O God, is steadfast,' my servant, David, proclaimed. 'I will sing and make music'” (Psalm 57:7, NIV).

You belong to me, and I know you intimately. You are my instrument, and I long to make joyful music in your life. I long to play the music of my love through you. Your music is not my music. Your music rises from self, but my music rises from my love that willingly paid your debt of sin. It is complete, and never fails. It is honest, and never fabricates. It is pure and never clouded with earthly judgment. I make harmony of which you make such discord. My music played in your life sounds hope in the ears of those you have no power alone to help.
Through your life I have the power to reach those you have failed‒ones you have misjudged and ones of whom you have thought less. Your self judges, and because of that you have no power to impact lives. You have placed yourself in the way of what I am able to do through a yielded life.  Yield your life to me, and allow me to bring my harmony into your life. It will flow, rich and freely, through your life and into lives of others. Don't allow the discordant failures of your life to hold you back. Because you desire all of me now, and because you know me as your Lord, your failures are mine. They are no longer yours. It is my purpose to bear them, and to make all things new.

My servant, David, had a heart that belonged to me. Even though he failed miserably at times, I knew He would listen to my reprimand, and return to me. He yielded His life to me and became steadfast and unshakeable in His commitment. During the darkest of days as Saul sought his life, David allowed his music to be my music. You, just like my servant, David, are also my instrument. Through your life, I have the power to make music that speaks to those who are are destitute and longing for peace. Yield your life to me, and allow me to mold you into the finest of instruments for my purpose. There is no greater fulfillment.”

Friday, February 20, 2015

What is My Motive?

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.'” (Revelation 3:1, NIV).

“I know your deeds” reveals two things about the church at Sardis. The thirst thing it shows is that Sardis was an active church, and a church with an outstanding reputation. It helped those in the community, and was known as a church that got things done. The second thing that the statement, “I know your deeds,” reveals is the fact that God was watching Sardis–just as God watches what I do today. He doesn't only know what I do, He knows exactly the reason that I do it. He knows the motive in my heart. God knows me better than I know myself. He knows my true motive for ministry–whether it is really in His name or for my own recognition. The church at Sardis had a lot of things it provided that made a difference in the physical lives of those that they helped. The community recognized the church's efforts and spoke of it as a church of great character. However the church at Sardis had a very great problem. “I know your deeds,” the angel said, “but you are dead.”

Sardis had a worldly recognition of being alive, but their name and reputation did not come from God. The church was so busy doing things and trying to please the community instead of God, they forgot that ministry was meant to be in God's name–not their own. In all their “doing and helping” they missed the fact that the church had died. They had convinced each other that their work was totally “spiritual”, and in the process they had failed to realize that they were a dead branch on the vine. Yes, Sardis helped those with physical needs, but they couldn't help those with spiritual needs because they needed spiritual help themselves. They had no spiritual intimacy with God, and thus their motives sprang from their own empty conceit.

What about your life? What about mine? Have we reached the point where God considers us a Sardis? That what we do for Him is really spiritually dead? Are the deeds we do for Him coming from a repentant heart that knows without God nothing is possible? Or are our deeds meant to get ourselves a good name and reputation? Perhaps we don't even realize that is where we are, and that is a dangerous place to be–just as it was for Sardis. Colossians 3:17 says “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” God sees though all my many layers of reasoning, and straight into our heart. He knows our motives. 

I always need to examine my motive for each deed. Does it spring from His unselfish love or from a selfish heart that seeks recognition? I don't want to be known for just being “active” like Sardis. I want to be spiritually alive and used to help others draw closer to Him. The minute that ministry becomes about me is the minute I need to lose it. More than anything, I want what I give the Lord to come from a heart that offers His love. A broken and spilled-out heart is only what accomplishes His true work.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bringing it Down

One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty, and pull down the stronghold in which they trust” (Proverbs 21:22, NIV)

Have you ever faced a wall in your life that seems impenetrable? You can't find a weakness in its structure. Each time you think you have found a way to break through, the wall just reinforces itself. No matter what you try, you fail. You are about to give up, and then you realize that you haven't asked God for His help and guidance. You have stubbornly tried to bring that wall down by yourself. Without His wisdom of the structure of that wall in your life, you can't discover the one weakness that will not reinforce itself. With God's wisdom you can leave that whole wall in ruins.

Do you have a wall in your life that keeps you from freedom in Christ? Do you have a stronghold that holds you fast? Perhaps it is even something in your life where you have unwisely and maybe even unwittingly placed your trust. You need God's wisdom to not only identify it and address it, but to conquer it. If any of you lacks wisdom,” James writes, “you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5, NIV). If you ask God for His wisdom, He bestows it abundantly! With His wisdom, you can identify your stronghold–the very thing where you have placed your trust–the thing that has held you in bondage. With His wisdom and power, you can conquer its hold on your life.

Seek God's wisdom as you go up against the wall in your life. When you have sought His wisdom and have wisely studied that wall's strength, you will find the weakness in its structure which will bring down the whole wall. Allow the Holy Spirit to have control and guide you, and the wall no longer is impenetrable. That stronghold no longer has a greater strength than your God who strengthens you. His wisdom has found the crack in its structure, and it will fall.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Humility in Surrender

Always realize that your life and and any ministry belongs to Jesus Christ. Each little act or encouraging word is ministry. A Christian begins his life in Christ called out of love for his Savior. His hearts initially burns with the wonder of what God has started only to later learn that his inability to surrender control chokes out His relationship with the Lord. The inability to surrender to God's will and purpose stems from self and pride. Never forget that you have no life in Christ without surrender. Never forget any ministry you share does not belong to you. Never forget your life belongs to Him. It is not yours. Your allegiance was paid for with the greatest price. Never forget that the least is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And never forget He is your best example. He lived the greatest humility.

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion (Philippians 2:5-8,MSG). Jesus came to serve. He regarded himself as being no greater than anyone else, and He gave His life for you and me. He had a servant's heart. We are called to have a servant’s heart, and to serve with His humility of heart.

If a person feels the need to declare his humility, then humility is not really a part of his life. True humility is a powerful tool. It is revealed in attitude and action from a yielded heart. Humility reveals that surrender has taken place. There is no “me”. There is only His love. “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ,” Paul wrote, “if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:1-4, MSG).

Each day is ministry. Each opportunity is ministry. Never forget that we belong to Him, and it is only by His mercy and grace that we have found new life. Never forget to always become less so that He can be more. Never forget His power in life is His gift, and it is only at its greatest when all of self is completely surrendered to Him.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Accountable to God

Do you remember Erma Bombeck, the American humorist, who wrote “The Grass Is Always Greener over the Septic Tank” and “If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?” In one of her books she writes about someone who lives in her house named “I dunno”. This illusive “I dunno” is blamed for a lot of things for which the children in the story will not accept responsibility. Who leaves the wet towels on the floor? “I dunno”. Who leaves the refrigerator door opened? “I dunno”. “I dunno” receives weighty blame from those who will not step up to the plate and honestly admit their wrongdoing.

As children of God, we often blame “I dunno”. Accountability is accepting responsibility for our actions. Yet we often refuse. If accountability is necessary for society to operate in a civilized manner, consider how much more essential it is necessary for Christians. No one escapes accountability. In one way or another, we are accountable. A good example is the fact that laws exist in our country that we must obey, and if we break them, we face the consequences. As Christians we have standards that God sets for our actions, and if we break those, there are consequences.

The Bible says that God holds us accountable. "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). Personal accountability for our actions is not an option. Knowing the Word is necessary to live a godly Christian life. We will answer for the way we live our lives. Christians are also accountable to one another. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes that as Christians we are all part of the same body. We all belong to the body of Christ. Each of us belongs to the other. This Scripture reveals the importance of accountability between fellow Christians. We all need someone in whom to confide and pray in our Christian walk.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

To Know His Heart

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

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

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

If I will still my physical senses and wait upon His presence with my whole being, I shall prepare myself to receive. I shall discover that those times of waiting for Him have the power to strengthen my life. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NKJV). I shall receive His power to rise up and have His strength to remain strong. As I seek His truth in the Word, I shall begin to perceive His revelation knowledge which has the power to transform my life. When I surrender all that hinders, I shall know completely and unshakably that He is my God. And I will perceive and understand His heart.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stubborn Pride

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, NIV).

Stubbornness. Each one of us has to deal with this issue at times–either in our own lives or in our relationships. Solomon, the writer of wise proverbs, had quite a bit to say on the subject. He called stubbornness “pride”, and he wrote about what happens as a result. If I have a prideful and stubborn spirit, then I set myself up for failure. With pride comes an “I have to have my own way” attitude. If someone suggests another way, there is no room for consideration or compromise. Pride says, “I have all the answers, and I know what is best.”

“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom,” Solomon declares (Proverbs 11:2, NLT). Pride will bring embarrassment, shame, and reproach. It will destroy any good that I might have to offer. The Lord hates pride and the arrogance it imparts, (Proverbs 8:13). If I have an humble attitude, I will have a teachable spirit that is able to learn wisdom. God can't teach me anything if I believe that my way is best. “A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them” (Proverbs 14:3, NIV). This verse equates pride with foolishness. God can't protect me from my own foolishness, if I will not listen. In my pride I have no regard for consequences, because I have a point to make. If I must continually be right and must make my point known, arguments will rise up, and cause strife. “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise,” Solomon wrote (Proverbs 13:10, NLT). If I am filled with stubborn pride, then I demand my own way, and miss protection from those who offer wisdom. However, if I will listen with humility and a teachable spirit, I will take wise advise and avoid “my fall”. I will avoid shame and reproach. 

Life is about my relationships with others, my attitudes, and if I am willing to surrender or not. It is important that I continually seek an humble attitude in my Christian life. Daily I need His grace to humble me so that I realize I don't have all the right answers. I must never have an “I told you so” attitude. I must have the heart and attitude of Christ, who became a servant, and gave His life for me (Philippians 2:6-8). With a teachable spirit, my mind and my attitudes can be changed (Romans 12:1-2). It is my decision or not if the cost of His life is great enough to change mine.

Friday, February 13, 2015

You Can Be Free!

“To know Him and the power of His Resurrection” (Philippians 3:10) takes on whole new meaning when you battle a stronghold in your life. If you study His Word and continually seek Him in prayer, you will enter a deeper intimate relationship with the Lord. You will discover His power that sets you free. He longs for you to experience healing, and to be free from that which binds your heart, mind, and spirit. 

You do not have to be bound in fear that your stronghold is everlasting. It isn't. He is everlasting, and His promise of deliverance is true. He love is incredibly powerful, and He promises that you will have a sound mind and spirit (2 Timothy 1:7). Persevere in seeking Him, and knowing His Word, and you will receive deliverance. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36). Don't ever give up. You will receive His promise. He is faithful.

Daily admit sin’s control. Ask for Christ’s forgiveness. Study the Word and grow in knowledge of His truth. Apply faith to what you have learned from the Word in order to overcome your stronghold. Maintain an intimate and vital relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer. Share with others what Christ has done for you. This reinforces your faith, and reminds you daily of God's power.

Your path to freedom from your stronghold resembles a fingerprint. It is not exactly like mine or that of anyone else. Yet the truth found in God’s Word is the same for each Christian. It accomplishes exactly what God sends it to achieve (Isaiah 55:11). Complete deliverance waits when you are ready to begin your own personal journey. You shall experience the love that sets you free when you seek the Savior who gave His life for you.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Your Promised Land

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

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

Does this sound like us? We can see God's promise for our lives, but we just can't make the commitment to reach for it because of the fear of what it will cost us. It might cost money or time or work. But that is not the most important cost.  It will cost faith. That is the payment that is required. We want the promise, but we don’t want to face the giant of our own fear of what may happen. Our promised land is within reach, but it requires obedience, commitment, and trust in God's faithfulness.

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

Caleb was one the spies sent to calculate the cost in facing the giants in the Promised Land. He returned to the Israelites and told them it was time to move. But nobody moved. The collective fear in their lives was too great. Years would pass before the Israelites would face their fears and claim their promise.  When they finally mustered the faith to move forward, Caleb received his promise of Hebron. The lack of vision and faith of the Israelites held back Caleb’s promise. Does our lack of faith hold back another person's promise? That is something to think about. What we do and what we don't do affects others in our lives.

Are you setting on the edge of your Promised Land? “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). Faith gives you the assurance that those giants are nothing when faced with the power of God. Faith is your confidence to move forward in His will for your life believing He brings about His promise. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, NIV).

What is your Promised Land?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Completely Changed

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,” Paul instructs, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).

Life is full of events, habits, and circumstances that upset and irritate. Those irritations can either spur me on to greater spiritual growth or they can destroy what God wishes to produce in my life. Whether good or bad, my life is a result of my attitude. “Rejoice always,” Paul encourages, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). It is God's will that I have a good attitude in all circumstances. It is His will that I rejoice no matter what happens. It is His will for me to surrender to the lesson and not the circumstance.

In this Scripture in Romans, Paul urges his readers to honor the love of their Savior who died to set them free by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform their lives. Do I attempt to live a life that pleases God? Do I have a sacrificial attitude? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to make me a living sacrifice? Or do I fight against God and the lessons of life? Strength, joy, peace, and a no-matter-what trusting attitude come from surrender to God's perfect and pleasing will for my life. Surrender is not an option, and it certainly does no good to rage against my circumstance. When God’s incredible mercy is my reason for living, then surrender is something that comes through the renewing of my mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. I yield to His lesson for my life. I sacrifice my fight against powers that are beyond my control, and gracefully accept His lesson. Through His discipline and pruning in my life, I am changed to become more like Him. Learning God's lesson for my life becomes my passion

Over half a century ago, Jim Elliot, a young Presbyterian missionary, was killed in Ecuador by Acua Indians. His wife, Elizabeth, wrote years later about her husband’s passion for the lessons of life. “Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God. When I know myself called, summoned, addressed, taken possession of, known, acted upon, I have heard the Master. I put myself gladly, fully, and forever at His disposal, and to whatever He says my answer is yes.” Nothing will destroy me when I know myself as called to give all to Him. Nothing will come against me when I yearn to know what strength He gives me in the struggles of life. I can discover that I need “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

What is the cost of my surrender? Letting go of who I think I am–letting go of my desires–letting go of my agenda–letting go of my control in every circumstance and every situation, and allowing God to lead me. When I let go then I have counted the cost of surrender, and determined that letting go is worth everything for what I receive in return. I am set free from all that has bound my life. I am completed changed and made new–just as Jesus always intended.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Launch into Uncertainty

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)!

Let go and let God!” I have heard most of my Christian life. It sounds good, but how many of us allow our failures, pains, attitudes, and even sins that were crucified with Christ to hold us back? Christ calls us to let go of all the old that has defined who we are. As a new creature in Christ I must let go of what I consider the security of the boat. There is no security in the boat I have constructed. There is no security in false hopes and dreams that offer nothing in the end. That boat is subject to the waves and storms of life. That boat can sink. But I will discover that when I let go of my self-constructed identity, and step out into the depths of the unknown in Christ, I will not sink into the depths of my own despair but stand strongly on the rock of my salvation.

When I “let go and let God”, I am so longer the child who failed at sports, or math. I am no longer the person who could not quite get things together, or a person who has been hurt because of teasing. I am no longer someone who lets feelings of rejection, whether imagined or real, define who I am. I am no longer one who needs the world to approve of me. I have found my worth in Christ. When you “let go and let God”, you are no longer a failure. You are no longer subject to the pain of abuse or rejection. You are no longer ruled by fear. You are no longer “not quite good enough”. All the old you have been is washed away by the precious sacrifice of Christ. You are a new person, and you have a new identity in Him! 

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

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

Monday, February 9, 2015

Forgive with His 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? Perhaps it wasn't intentional, but you are convinced 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. Don't isolate yourself in your pain and feelings of rejection. 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 been a close friend for a 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. The enemy wants to destroy your relationships and your life. Don't let him erect walls that imprison you. Fight isolation with the freedom the Holy Spirit empowers. Be free to ask why. Be free to seek answers. Be free from the bondage of isolation by reaching out in love and not in anger and bitterness.
When you ask your friend about what has hurt you, give them the benefit of the doubt. Let them know how you feel quietly. Don't accuse. If you put someone on the defensive, they will not 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, perhaps your friend, who may not have even realized what an action or a word did to you, will for your forgiveness.
Above all else, forgive, even if the friend who has hurt you does not seek yours. Allow forgiveness to set you free from the bondage of anger and pain. The Lord will remove your stony heart which has been hardened from pain and isolation, and will give you a heart that is pliable and soft in His hands. Where His Spirit flows, there is freedom. Allow Him to flow always and keep your heart spiritually soft. Live in the freedom and fullness of His Spirit so that you can forgive no matter what happens. 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-giving power and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It Belongs to Him

See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are” (1 John 3:1a, NLT).

Yesterday I became upset because I made some errors in my devotional. I spelled “illusive” in the title as “elusive”. I used “their” instead of “there” in a sentence. I probably made more mistakes that I haven't discovered yet! This may not seem like much to some people, but it is to meespecially when I send a mass devotional to hundreds. I want what I do for Him to be my best, and I have discovered that often it isn't. This failure is not really much compared to other ways I have failed. I have fallen short of what I need to be many times.

How often I forget that I am His child, and He loves me completely! Everything that I am or have belongs to Him, so my failure also belongs to Him. I can't hold on to my failure and allow it to keep me from trying to give Him my best. I must allow Him to have it. He understands where my failure began, and He alone can make it right. Because I love Him, and my heart longs to follow only His will, He takes my failure. He forgives and reclaims me. I decide to move away from doubt caused by my failure and step forward in faith in Him.  

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV). He knows my heart, and He knows that any decision I make I will give to Him. I yearn for my plan to be His plan, and if it is not, I pray that He changes it. I want to be established in Him. I can do all things through Him. He gives me the strength for this day and for the next. As I continue to move forward in faith I will see His plan alive in my life. One step at a time will bring its reward.

Today I checked my spelling and grammar again. All appears well, but if I have made an unconscious error, it is not the end of the world. Because He knows I have committed my life and writing to Himone day at a time.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Matthew 17:21-the Illusive Verse

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. [21]But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:20-21, ESV).

I find it interesting that several versions of the Bible do not include verse 21 in Matthew 17, because it is a verse that jumps off the page to me, and explains how I can discover abundant faith. In this chapter Jesus has just come down off the mountain where he has been with Peter, James, and John. These three disciples have witnessed the incredible sight of Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. Now Jesus is suddenly approached by a man whose son has been tormented by a demon since he was a child. The other disciples have been unable to help this man’s son, and have just asked Jesus why they were unable to rid the son of his demon. Jesus answers that it is because of their little faith. In that illusive verse 21, Jesus explains that faith—strong enough to cast out the son’s demon—is discovered through prayer and fasting. This is clear instruction how we can find a strong enough faith to rid ourselves of our own “personal demons”. Do we suffer from fear and a lack of trust in God? Are we tormented by feelings of failure and inadequacy? Do we drive ourselves crazy by analyzing the reason behind everything in our lives? Is there personal sin with which we struggle and can't seem to conquer? Whatever our demons, they can be conquered. As it says in verse 21, prayer and fasting are the two disciplines which will make a difference.

Prayer isn’t just telling God what you desire, but is about listening and understanding what He desires. Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes you. When you enter into holy communication with God, the Spirit of the Lord within you prays to the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26, NLT). When you get to this depth in prayer, you have surrendered control. When you release your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit praying for you, you are able to receive faith without the analytical perspective the mind always attempts to interject. The shield of faith grows stronger in your life.

Fasting focuses the mind on God instead of circumstance. “You will keep in perfect peace him, whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). You can know supernatural peace at the moment the mind surrenders its struggle for control. (Philippians 4:6-7). When the human mind is bypassed, the need for reassurance is gone. Jesus spoke of this spiritual plane when he said to Satan in the desert, "Man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). In another instance, the disciples insisted that Jesus eat, and he said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about”. The disciples didn’t see any food. “My food,” Jesus explained, “is to do the will of him who sent me to finish His purpose" (John 4:32-34). Fasting draws you closer to God. It gives spiritual sustenance which produces greater faith.

When we surrender control to God—whether in prayer or by fasting—we receive more of the Lord’s strength to handle life’s uncertainty. As we grow in these disciplines, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit increases, revealing our own inadequacy, and teaching us how to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). On the mountain, Peter, James, and John witnessed an amazing sight. It created emotional fervor in these three disciples, and then later, when they came down off the mountain, the other disciples were unable to cast out a demon. Jesus called them an unbelieving generation. Feelings on the mountain don’t inspire greater faith, but spiritual training through disciplines like prayer and fasting do! Jesus Christ reveals clearly by word and deed that He is all that is necessary to have great enough faith to cast out the demon.

Whatever your “personal demon”, greater faith is the only way to end its ability to control your life. Prayer and fasting are two disciplines which inspire greater faith. I don't want the things that I have allowed to define who I am to have the ability to always define me. I want a strong enough faith to believe God over my feelings. I am a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:7). And I want to be new in every way.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Yielded Tool

O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand” (Isaiah 64:8, NLT).

A tool is not worth anything until it is used. If I am a hammer, I can’t pound a nail if someone does not pick me up and put muscle behind me. To be a tool in God’s hands, I must allow Him to pick me up and put His spiritual muscle behind me. I have no skill or power on my own, but as a tool in His hands, my skill is limitless; my strength is assured. Unlike a hammer, I have a will to surrender. If I try to hammer that nail on my own and without His help, it becomes crooked and unable to be pounded flush into its target. My power is limited, and my view is flawed. The direction in which I need to aim is out of focus. His view of that nail is perfect, and in His hands, I can hit that target perfectly.

My life is only a piece of clay to be molded into His instrument‒a tool to be fired for His purpose. He is the master potter who molds and fires my life into a tool which is strong enough to serve Him. Circumstances teach lessons, and with surrender to His will, build character to stay the course. I am fine-tuned by His Hand for the target He has chosen me to hit. That target is His purposeHis vision for my life. I will surrender my life for that purpose, and become the tool He has called me to be. With all of my will yielded to His purpose, my life will hit that target squarely. His power will drive it home, and I will be a vessel, a tool, with which He has wrought His best.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

No Spirit of Fear

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV).

Fear of what lies ahead can be very strong and frightening, but belief in God's faithfulness can give us greater faith. We don't live in the future, and we don't need to worry over what may or may not happen. We live in the here and now. Worrying over the future can keep us from discovering the joy God has for us in the present.

How many of us struggle to figure out what is going to happen? We shouldn't try. It is a good thing that we do not know everything that is to come. God keeps it from us for our own benefit. Having a strong faith is more important than knowing what lies ahead. Faith is worth too much to sacrifice in an attempt to bring temporal peace to our minds. Faith to trust in God‒no matter what is to come‒rises from an intimate knowledge of Him. The spiritual peace that comes from that intimacy is beyond human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Faith takes me where fear never can‒into His lasting peace that comes with full understanding that God is in control, and whatever comes is completely in His hands.

When we ask Him to take care of all that we face, we must trust Him completely to take care of it. When we give Him our worry for the present and our concern for what is to come, we must empty ourselves completely of all that hinders His work in us. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). He longs to be free in us. If we hold on to fear that defines who we are, there is no room for Him. There is no freedom. 

If I pray for Him to save me from difficulty and worry, then I must trust that He will. If I don't trust, then I become helpless and powerless. He is my rescuer and wants to rescue me. Instead of fighting His help when I am drowning, I will trust in His faithfulness to lift me out of my sea of despair. He calls me to launch out into the deep. I will not fight my rescuer because I fear drowning. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of His power and His love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I will not drown. I can depend on Him.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hold Unswervingly

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).

Stand strong against doubt and fear. Bar the windows and doors of your mind against them. The enemy is the thief who comes to steal and destroy your faith. Create a fortress in your mind that allows no access. Believe that no weapon that comes against you will destroy you.

You have been given great gifts of peace, joy, and love. These gifts can be taken away by doubt and fear. Anchor peace, joy and love in your spirit, and face each day with praise for God's faithfulness. Laugh at the enemy's lies–for that is what they are. Lies. You will discover that God's anchor holds strong.

Profess your hope without hesitation. Speak it until the healing balm of His presence protects you from the lies that bring fear. Repeat “all is well” over and over until the wound in your spirit is healed. He is faithful.

In Him all is well.

Monday, February 2, 2015


“I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelations 3:19-20, NLT).

Do I realize that I must continually seek His heart, or do I believe that I am at the place where I have “arrived”? Is He the heartbeat of my life, or is He on the outside waiting and knocking to be invited into every area that I keep hidden? Do I believe that all is well when in truth I am just a withering branch on the vine? When I believe that I am just where I need to be in my relationship with Him, then I am dying–not dying to self, but to Him. Without continually seeking Him, I have none of His life-blood flowing and rendering power in my life. Without surrender, I have no power or no purpose.

Is this what I wish for my life? No power or purpose? If I bring a heart which will not surrender to God’s discipline and pruning, then I reap my own self-sufficiency. A heart that is not completely surrendered to Christ needs nothing more. A heart that believes it lives for Christ but really doesn't because of hidden things, is a heart that is hard and unchanged by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a heart with its own agenda. It is a heart that doesn't even realize it is impotent and purposeless.

Those whom I love,” Jesus implores, “I correct and discipline. I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you!” When I bring a surrendered heart, I offer a heart that is not hardened or self-sufficient. If there is sin in my life, I bring Him a heart that is easily rebuked and disciplined. When He wishes to prune my life for greater yield, I willingly submit to the lesson He wishes to impart and allow it to transform my life. When I open the door, He enters and shares His heart with me. And I share my heart with Him. He becomes my greatest friend.

Jesus Christ knocks, but it is up to me to open the door. He will not force His way into each part of my life which I withhold from Him. I must yield. I must make the effort. He is knocking right at this moment, and longing to be invited into all the crevices of my life. He yearns to bring His life-changing power to thoroughly transform me. Will I open the door this time, and allow it to always remain open? Am I truly ready to be renewed and transformed by the Potter's hand? I am the only one who can answer that question.

Get That Monkey Off Your Back

    An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Sensible people...