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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Risk Believing

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

    Is there a promise for your life you are afraid to believe? Does making a commitment to trust and step out in faith seem too great? Does a lack of trust hold you back? You haven't really said no to that promise, because that would shut the door on the possibility that it might come true. But you haven't said yes, either, because of the cost. The fence of non-commitment on which you are sitting will keep you from what God has promised you. Non-commitment might feel like it is a place of safety, but it isn't. To receive your promise, you will have to risk stepping off your fence and trusting God. You sit on the fence of non-commitment because not sitting on the fence means that you must make a decision one way or the other. If you get off the fence, you will be forced to commit to something. You will either believe or not believe. You will either have faith or not have faith. You will either accept or reject. You are afraid to commit because either way you might be wrong. So you sit on your fence because you presume it is easier and safer than letting go of it. It is not easier and it is not safer. You may think your fence of non-commitment is safe, but all it does is keep you in prison without any hope. You have to risk in order to believe.

    Staying on your fence of non-commitment is really a choice. It is a choice to remain in bondage instead of discovering the freedom found in letting go and trusting God. "Now the Lord is the Spirit,” Paul imparts, “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV). The Holy Spirit will make every effort to liberate you from your fence. He will use the circumstances of life to try and get you to trust God. He will move heaven and earth to shake you off that fence and pry your fingers from its false protection. You must choose to let go and make a commitment to believe in His faithfulness. The fence does not protect you. It is a place where non-commitment will destroy what little faith you have.

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

    Let go of non-commitment. He will not fail you. He will bring you safely through pain, fear, and heartache into your promised land because you have chosen to believe Him. Sacrifice your fence of non-commitment and trust in Jesus Christ who sacrificed all for you. “So do not fear, for I am with you,” He declares. “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). This is His promise when you let go of that fence. He will strengthen and uphold you because you have risked believing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No to Harran and Yes to Canaan

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there” (Genesis 11:31, NIV).

In his message the other day our pastor said something that more than caught my attention. It was something he had realized from Genesis 11: 31. What he shared was something that made me think about how we sometimes say yes to God's call, start out to fulfill it, then quit when it gets too hard or something else distracts us. This verse in Genesis 11:31 offers the thought that Abram was not the first one called by the Lord to leave Ur. It says that Abram's father, Terah, took his family and led them out of Ur to go to Canaan. However, when Terah arrived in Harran, he stopped his pilgrimage and settled there with his family. We don't know if Terah was faced with some circumstance in his life or if there was something about Harran that drew him, but he decided that he would not go any further. God's purpose came to a halt with that decision. God then turned to Terah's son, Abram, and said, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1, NIV). Abram heard a promise with his call. Whether Terah heard this same promise or not, we do not know. If it was part of Terah's call, it certainly was not enough to entice him to continue to Canaan. God promised Abram, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3, NIV). Abram didn't hesitate, but rose up, and moved forward to complete what his father had left in Harran.

How many times do we miss opportunities that God extends? They are probably too numerous to even count. God will always have someone who will say yes to His call, but then not push forward to complete it. Detours like Harran will appear too tempting. If we don't persevere in what God calls us to do, He will raise up another like Abram to fulfill it. God's purpose will be fulfilled. The question is whether we want to hang on and be a part of the promise of His blessing or allow someone else to receive what we threw away.

Terah settled for the call of Harran more than the call of God. Abram was called to “go from your father's household.” He was not called to rejuvenate the call within his father, but was told to leave Terah behind. Abram was not called to include those who would settle for less than the best or who would allow the world to deter them from God's purpose. Abram was called to leave behind all that Harran had claimed and move on toward Canaan.

Often we hear the story of Abraham, and study how God's call changed his life. Consider Terah and what he missed. If Terah was called to Canaan first but then allowed Harran to pull him off course, he missed an opportunity of a lifetime. What is your call? What has drawn you aside from fulfilling it? What has kept you from persevering to the end? Does Canaan seem too distant or is Harran too tempting? Whatever has pulled you aside will keep you from God's best for your life. Don't expect someone else to make His purpose live again in you. That is your call and your decision. If you say no, God will always raise someone up to complete what you have missed. Why allow someone else to have what was originally meant to be yours? Persevere and hold on. Allow the enticement of God's blessing to claim your heart. Say no to every Harran in your path, and keep your eyes firmly fixed on Canaan. Let your yes to God's call be as real as His promise is to you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Adonai, My Lord and Master

The name of God, “Adonai”, means “Lord and Master”. Because “Yahweh” is considered too holy to be spoken by the Hebrews, “Adonai”, and sometimes “Jehovah” are the two names which are interchangeably spoken in its place. “Adonai” is plural, and can be translated as “my lords”. “Adonai” in its singular form is “adon” and refers to a human who is a master. In the old Testament “adon” is used 215 times in reference to man, and “Adonai” (sometimes as “Jehovah”) is used over 200 times in reference to God. Whichever name is used, it speaks of submission and obedience to someone who has authority.

The first time “Adonai” is used is in Genesis 15:1-2 when God speaks to Abram. “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.' But Abram said, 'Sovereign Lord (“Adonai”), what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?'” (Genesis 15:1-2, NIV). Through many hard years God had been “Lord and Master” to Abram in many ways. When God called Abram to leave his homeland and follow Him, Abram had no idea who this God was that was calling him. The call was so strong and so clear to Abram that he surrendered, and packed up his family and moved―trusting God to lead him and not knowing at all where he was headed. During many years after leaving Ur, Abram had always relied on God to take care of his family. Now in these two verses Abram seems to agonize over the one thing means the world to him―having a son. Although the Lord told Abram in Geneses 15:1 that He, the Lord, was Abram's “great reward”, Abram longed for a son and heir to which to leave everything he owned . In Genesis 15:2 Abram told “Adonai” that there was something else he wanted and needed beside God as his reward. In fact, it was something that Abram desired more than God at this moment in his life. He spoke the name “Adonai”, but he had not allowed God to be his “Lord and Master” more than his desire for a son. 

Just as Abram we often say that God is our “Lord and Master”, and our lives say something very different. Instead of God being the ruler of our lives, something else takes His place. That ruling idol can be power, money, possessions, alcohol, drugs, food, children, and the list goes on. Even good things in our lives can master us. Church can become more important than the Lord. Doing things for others can become more important. Whatever we put before God becomes the thing that claims our devotion and rules our lives. God wants to be more than a lip-service “Adonai” we just honor when we feel like it. He longs to be more than the temporary “Adonai” we seek during hard times. He longs to be our real and permanent “Adonai” in every moment of our lives. 

This morning I look at myself. Is He more than “lip service” to me? Do I run to Him only when I have a huge problem in my life? Do I long for a promise or a need to be fulfilled more than I long for Him? When I surrender all that I am―all my perceived needs, my thoughts, my life-style, my will―to “Adonai”, my faithful and loving “Lord and Master”, He becomes my “greatest reward”. He is all that I need. When He is first in my heart and mind, I am at rest in my desires. I am at rest in His presence. Life is peaceful even when circumstances rage. It is content even when everything is not perfect around me because, in placing him first, I have discovered His joy. I know the love of this “Lord and Master” who gave His life so that I might live. He surrendered all for me. Now I long to surrender all to Him, my “Adonai”.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jehovah Mekoddishkem―the Lord Who Sanctifies

Jehovah Mekoddishkem is the name for the Lord who sanctifies and makes us holy. Mekoddishkem is derived from the Hebrew word “qadash” which means “holy” or “sanctify”. The anglicized version of Mekoddishkem is “M-qadash”. The Septuagint denotes this name as “the Lord who sanctifies you”. This name can literally be translated as "the Lord who sets you apart." God is referred to as Jehovah Mekoddishkem only two times in the Old Testament. The first is in Exodus 31:13. “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.'” (NIV). The other is in Leviticus 20:8. “Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” (NIV). As we draw closer to Him and live obedient lives following His Word, we are set apart and sanctified.

Sanctification is derived from the Greek word “hagios”, which means “set apart for holiness”. This word refers to the day-by-day growing process that separation to God brings. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15, NIV). As we separate ourselves from the things that desecrate our life in Jesus Christ, we grow closer to the Lord and are in the process of being changed into His likenessholy and set apart for His purpose.

In John 17 Jesus prays for his disciples and for believers that are to come. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:16-19, NIV). Jesus set his own life apart (sanctified himself) for the purpose for which His father sent Him. He is our example. We are called to do the same. He sends us into the world to share His gospel of redeeming love, and we must set ourselves apart (sanctify ourselves) for His purpose. To be sent in His power, we must be set apart for His purpose. We are to sanctify ourselves by the truth of His Word. The call to share His Word and the call to be separated to God are inseparable. They go hand-in-hand. We can't share the love of a holy and forgiving Lord without living it ourselves.

Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for us to live holy lives until the day Jesus returns. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”(NIV). To live a holy life until the day He comes promises a great future. “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4, NIV). “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2b, NIV). In that moment He appears, we shall be totally separated from sin that has plagued us in this life. Completely and forever separated to Him, we will know Him as He has always known us. We will live with Him forever.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jehovah Raah, My Good Shepherd

Today's name of God is one that speaks of safety and security in a world that offers none. In Psalm 23:1 we discover that “Jehovah-Raah” means “The Lord is my shepherd”. This verse continues with “I shall not want.” This is the name for the Lord which promises we shall not lack anything. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that promise. “I am the good shepherd,” Jesus said. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11, NIV). Jesus became our shepherd by giving His life for us. Just as a shepherd assumes the responsibility for the care and well-being of his sheep, so Christ takes compete responsibility for our care and well-being. The Lord as “Jehovah Raah” is the shepherd who provides loving care for His people. He is the same great “Jehovah Jireh” that is powerfully on time with His provision. In this Jehovah God, we are saved by His redeeming love. All that we could ever want or need is found in our shepherd, who paid our price in full.

Sheep always need a shepherd to protect and care for them. We, just like sheep, are completely defenseless and dependent on a shepherd. Prey attack sheep, and bad environmental conditions put them in grave danger. We are also attacked, and face danger from our enemy. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 1:8b, NIV). A shepherd protects His sheep at all cost―sometimes to even the point of death. Jesus gave His life on the cross as our Good Shepherd. He had the power to save himself, but he chose to give His life for you and me. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28, NIV).

I am the good shepherd,” Jesus continues. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord”(John 10:14-18a, NIV). The gift of His life is not for just a certain view. It is for all mankind. Jesus is the Good Shepherd over all who come to believe in Him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV). To know and believe that “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want”, we must know Him as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for our sake.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Jehovah Jireh, My Provider

The name of God, “Jehovah Jireh”, occurs only once in Genesis 22, and it means “The Lord Who Provides”. When the Lord called for Abraham's willingness to give up his son―for Abraham to put his love for God above all else, Abraham brokenheartedly followed the Lord's instruction. He built an altar not understanding why the loving God who had miraculously given him Isaac in his old age would now ask for him in return. God's purpose was not to wound Abraham, and take away the son he loved so much. It was a lesson in willing obedience. There on the mountain the Lord halted Abraham's obedience, and provided a ram instead. “So Abraham called the name of that place 'The Lord Will Provide', and it is said to this day, on the mount of the Lord it will be provided” (Exodus 22:14, AMP).
“Jehovah Jireh's” provision of the ram is a powerful testimony to Abraham's great faith and trust in God's character. Abraham followed God's instruction knowing not only was he called to offer his beloved son, but that in Isaac the promise he would be the father of a multitude of nations rested. The provision of the ram is a statement of faith that God does not abandon the children that He loves. The meaning of “The Lord Will Provide” was very real to Abraham when God stopped the sacrifice of his son, and provided a ram. In obedience to the test, Abraham was faithful to the last second, and God answered His faithfulness with His provision.
Why would God ask for something so precious from Abraham? The altar is our place of worship, and nothing should stand in the way of our “life offering” to God. The Lord didn't want Abraham to love anything or anyone greater than he loved Him. It is the same for us. God desires our love for Him to be above all else. “In worship”, Matt Martin says, “we lay our most price possession on the altar. There is nothing that gets between us and God.” The Lord longs for our willingness to lay all our prized possessions upon His altar. The Lord laid His most prized possession, Jesus Christ, His son, on the altar for us. The Lord provided a perfect and spotless lamb. All He asks in return is our love and obedience.
“Isn't this what our heart longs for when we need the Lord to rescue us? We long for the Lord to save and provide. God sacrificed His own son for us. He doesn't expect us to sacrifice our own “son” in return, but He does ask us to sacrifice sin and every selfish thing in our lives that separates us from Him. He asks for our heart to love and honor Him above everything else. Just as Abraham faithfully trusted God to provide, so we too need to trust Him. We yearn for a God who sees our need and provides for us. Sometimes we don't really understand what our need really is, but He knows and will bring it to light. When we put God first in our heart and life, He will always be sure that our needs are met. Just as He did for Abraham, He is never late and completely provides. “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, AMP).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jehovah Rapha, My Restoroing Healer

Rapha” is derived from the Hebrew word “rapa” which means “restore” or “heal”. Since “Jehovah” means “to be”, God desires His people “to be” restored emotionally, physically, and spiritually. This word reveals that God has the power to restore a life that is broken or diseased to the original state He created it to be―one that is clean, healed, and in one accord with His Spirit. “Jehovah Rapha” is the Lord “who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, who heals [each one of] all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3, AMP). 

The first example of “Jehovah Rapha” is in Exodus 15. The Israelites had been rescued from captivity in Egypt. After crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, and praising God for their salvation, they wandered in the desert for three days thirsty and seeking fresh water. They came to Marah, and they couldn't drink its bitter water. “The people murmured against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?'” (Exodus 15:24, AMP). The Lord showed Moses a tree which he threw into the water, and the waters were made sweet and fresh. “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord (Jehovah Rapha) who heals you” (Exodus 15:26, AMP). How many times do we complain about our circumstance, and God allows it to teach us to lean on Him? Just as He restored the water at Marah, He has the power to restore our lives. If we will obey and faithfully live for Him, we shall know Him as the Lord who restores and heals. 

The Lord heals emotional pain and hearts that are broken. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows]” (Psalm 137:3, AMP). The word “broken” means “to reduce to pieces or fragments”. The Lord comes against our pain with his great power and smashes it to fragments. “Bind” means “to bandage”. He “bandages” and cures the emotional fragments of our lives that we lay on His altar, and imparts healing from our brokenness.

Physical healing is also His promise. When trying to reason the emotional and physical pain that comes with physical sickness, many times we end up in complete despair. It might be our own pain or perhaps it is for someone else. When there is pain and suffering, we are forced to face the truth that we are not in control. We face our own limitations. Some freeze up in fear and can't function. Others are driven deep into the Lord's presence. Seeking Him with all their heart, they cry “heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise”(Jeremiah 17:14, AMP)! This cry is one of faith that He is who He says He is. Jesus “our Jehovah Rapha” answers our cry. We experience the amazing truth that “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole” (Isaiah 53:5, AMP).
For His promises of emotional and physical healing to be true, our first need is to be spiritually healed. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?” (Jeremiah 17:9, AMP). “Jehovah Rapha” knows the sin that lives in the human heart, and the destruction it brings. We all fall short of God's standard, and are spiritually in desperate need of the healing that the precious blood of Jesus Christ imparts (Isaiah 53:5). God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, “to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound” (Jeremiah 61:1b, AMP). When we give Him our sinful heart, God promises “a new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26a, AMP). We are restored completely by His sacrificial love offered freely at Calvary. 

The wounds of an Almighty God, who loves me enough to die for me, have the power to heal my life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jehovah Nissi, My Banner and Refuge

For the next few days, we are going to look at “Jehovah” in conjunction with some other names of God. Jehovah comes from “havah”, the Hebrew name which means “to exist” or “to be”. Yesterday, we saw God as the great “I AM” who existed before all else, and who has sovereign authority over all the universe. The name “Jehovah” reveals that the great “I AM” of the universe (Yahweh) really wishes “to become known”. He is the all-powerful “Yahweh” who, as “Jehovah”, wishes to have a relationship with the people He has created. He wants to be up close and personal with us!

Jehovah” in conjunction with “Nissi” is only mentioned once in the old Testament, and that is in Exodus 17. “Nissi” is derived from the word “nes”, which means “banner” in Hebrew. In Exodus 17:15, Moses, having just defeated the Amalekites, erected an altar to “Jehovah Nissi”. The word “nes” can be demonstrated by the example of a flag mounted on a pole as a focal point in battle. In old Testament history (and even much later throughout centuries) opponents in war flew their own flag on their front lines. This focal point reminded soldiers of their purpose. When they focused their mind to win, they received encouragement that their efforts would not be in vain. This is what God “Jehovah Nissi” is to us. He is our focal point, our “banner”, on which we can focus our mind and all our thoughts, strength, hope, and belief. Isaiah wrote of God as this “banner”. “You guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You” (Isaiah 26:3, AMP).

In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the old Testament written for Jews two centuries before Christ) the word “nissi” is translated as “refuge”. When I focus all that I am―all that I believe―all that I live―all of my being on His unfailing standard, character, promise, and purpose, then He is my refuge in whatever comes before me. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High (Elyon) shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (Shaddai) [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust” (Psalm 91:1-2, AMP). He is not only my “banner” whose focus in my life gives strength and purpose; He is my refuge and my fortress in the heat of battle. He is my strength to stand against all evil. When I put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), no weapon can come against me.

The next verse following Isaiah 26:3 explains the faith that I can have in the Lord, my banner and my refuge, when my mind and whole life is focused on Him. “So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]” (Isaiah 26:4, AMP). Yes, He is “Jehovah Nissi”, the one in whom I will always trust.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

YAHWEH, The Great I AM

What is “YHWH”? What is this Hebrew name of God? The modern spelling for this name is “Yahweh” which has vowels to help pronounce it. By Jewish tradition, this name of God cannot be spoken because it is too holy. Three hundreds years following Christ, the Jewish people stopped saying “Yahweh” in fear of breaking the commandment "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Since the name “Yahweh” became too holy to be pronounced, it was replaced with “Adonai” also meaning “Lord”. “Adonai” denotes the mercy of a divine and all-powerful God. In the Septuagint (which is the Greek version of the old Testament written for Jews two centuries before Christ) “Yahweh” means “Lord and Master”. “Yahweh” is likewise referenced many times as “Jehovah” (also meaning “Lord”). These references to “Yahweh” occur over 6000 times in the old Testament. 

God is revealed as “Yahweh” for the first time in Exodus. God had just instructed Moses that He is to go to the Israelites held in slavery in Egypt and tell them that God will set them free. Moses asked God what he was to tell the Israelites about who sent him. “And God said to Moses, 'I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be;' and He said, 'You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you!' God said also to Moses, 'This shall you say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your fathers, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has sent me to you! This is My name forever, and by this name I am to be remembered to all generations'”(Exodus 3:14-15, AMP). “I AM” is “Yahweh”, “Jehovah”, and “Adonai”. He is the Lord and Master who sets His people free from bondage. His name is to be remembered forever.

“Yahweh”, as the great “I AM”, has no beginning and no end. There was nothing before Him. There was no reality―nothing. He existed before all else. He needs nothing or no one to help Him, counsel Him, or support Him. Everything that is not of God is still totally dependent on God. He created the universe, and He alone allows it to continue. As amazed as we might be by the magnificence of the universe, compared to God it is nothing. God never changes. No improvement is necessary. He is same today, yesterday, and forever. He is not becoming “more” or “greater”. He already is “I AM”. God is the absolute standard of truth. There is no law to which He submits. He himself reveals what is right and what is true. He alone is the final authority. God does as He wishes, and it is always in agreement with His absolute truth. He never violates His own standard. God is the most important reality. He is over any other reality that sets itself above His own will. Any reality that exists outside of Him only exists because He allows it, and still comes under His authority. His reality reigns above all else in the universe. He is “I AM”, and yet this great “I AM” has come to set me free from the bondage of sin. He has come to deliver me from the slavery of my past, and give me the freedom of new life in Him. Nothing is more amazing than the fact that the God of the universe, the great “I AM”, has become my Savior.

Monday, April 20, 2015

El Elyon, My Most High Redeemer

“EL” means “God”. “Elyon” literally means "Most High". When “El” is joined with “Elyon”, this aspect of God's character means “God Most High”. God reigns with authority and in majesty. “I will cry to God Most High,” the psalmist wrote, “who performs on my behalf and rewards me [who brings to pass His purposes for me and surely completes them]” (Psalm 57:2, AMP)! This “God Most High” moves on my behalf, and not only brings about His purpose for my life, but completes what He begins in me.

“El” used in conjunction with “Elyon” first occurs in Genesis 14:18-22 where Melchizedek, a priest of God and king of Salem (Jerusalem), blessed Abram after Abram rescued his nephew, Lot, from the hands of those who had defeated Sodom. “He (Melchizedek) blessed Abram, saying, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.' Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:19-20, NIV). Abram honors God by giving Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils he has taken. The King of Sodom is so thankful that Abram has returned the spoils that were taken that he tells Abram to keep them for himself. But Abram honors God by refusing to keep what is not his. “El Elyon” is the creator and the owner of heaven and earth. His is a name that denotes great and final authority. What is offered to honor God Most High comes from what He already owns. The issue in giving now becomes one for which I am responsible. Do I honor His ownership and His authority with a sold-out heart?

Another occurrence of “El” together with “Elyon” is found in the book of Psalm. “Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer” (Psalm 78:34-35, NIV). It is sad in these two verses that the Most High Redeemer would be sought after punishment or following something that drove His people to Him looking for help in time of need. “El Elyon” is one who delivers and saves. He is one whose authority should be recognized and majesty honored. “El Elyon” has a purpose in the lives of those who honor Him. How He longs for us to honor and worship Him because we love Him, and not because we need something from Him!

God Most High reigns over all the earth in sovereignty and final authority. Because of His majesty, He deserves my highest praise and worship. He deserves my consistent love and respect‒not just when I need something from Him. He deserves my life and all that I have offered to Him from a grateful heart. I must never assume to put myself in His place, but I often do when I make my own decisions without seeking His will. The Most High God is my judge, and the one who has the authority to forgive me. When I come to Him in repentance honoring His authority, He delivers and saves me from all that I have been. He hears my cry, and moves on my behalf. He blesses and rewards me. God is not only my high and sovereign Rock; He is my Redeemer, my Savior, and the only One who remains constant and unchanging. I pray that I always honor and allow Him to bring about His purpose in my life and to complete the work He has designed for me.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

El Shaddai

There is so much that can be studied about the name of God, “El Shaddai”. Actually a book could be written, and already has been. Today I would like to share some of what I have found and what it means to me.

In the old Testament God is called “El Shaddai” 7 times. The first reference is in Genesis 17:1 where God refers to himself as “God Almighty”. The name “El” translates as "God" and is used several times with other names to show aspects of God's character. In this case, “El” is used simultaneously with “Shaddai”. Some scholars believe that “Shaddai” comes from the Hebrew word “shad” which means “breast”. The word “breast” reminds us of a God who nourishes and satisfies His children. In several verses in Genesis the name “El Shaddai” is connected with being fruitful. One of these verses is: “May God Almighty (El Shaddai) bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you until you become a group of peoples (Gen. 28:3, AMP). Another verses states “By the God of your father, who will help you, and by the Almighty (El Shaddai), who will bless you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings lying in the deep beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb” (Gen. 49:25, AMP). The nourishment that “breast” denotes is connected to new life that springs from the womb. The nourishment which comes from “El Shaddai” brings great spiritual life, blessings, fulfillment. 

Other scholars believe that the word comes from the Akkadians, who at one time inhabited Mesopotamia (the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). The Akkadian word from which “Shaddai” might be taken is “sadu”, which means “divine mountain”. In Exodus 6:3 “El Shaddai” is revealed to be the God that called Abram (Abraham). “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them” (Exodus 6:3, NIV). Some scholars believe that since God called Abram out of Mesopotamia that the term “sadu” (divine mountain) traveled with him and became a reference to the Lord God Almighty. Another thought is that “Shaddai” or “divine mountain” is also used in reference to Mount Sinaithe mountain of God's great power.

This morning “El Shaddai” is the only nourishment that fully satisfies my soul, and brings fulfillment to my life. He breathes life into mine. He is water from the well that never runs dry. He is the nourishment that forever satisfies my spiritual hunger. “For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance” (Isaiah 66:11, NIV). When life is hard, and I feel weak, and drained, His nourishment still supplies me. He becomes my strong tower my mountain to which I run. I realize all the nourishment and help I need comes from Him. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, NIV). I run to the constant and unchanging rock of my salvation, and there I receive all that I need to sustain me through years of famine and of plenty. He is my “El Shaddai”.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What is in His Name?

(I have been asked to post a series of devotionals that I wrote last fall on the names of God.)

William Shakespeare wrote that “ a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The beautiful smell of a rose would still be just as real even if that rose had another name. However, for the different names of God in the old Testament that are used to describe each aspect of His character, no other name will suffice. Each name reveals part of His very nature. In the time of the old Testament, a person's name revealed something about the person who held it. For instance Abraham means “a father of a great multitude”, and he was the father of the great Hebrew nation. All the way through the His Word, God explains who He is through His names. If God created and knew us before we were even born (Psalm 139:13-15), we should also know Him by His names.

In the Lord's prayer, the first thing Jesus says after addressing His father in heaven is “hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9, KJV). When we “hallow” something we honor it. It is sacred, precious, and holy. For God to be precious and holy, we exalt Him about all other things. He is our Savior who is worthy of our complete surrender, adoration, and worship. “Stand up and praise the Lord your God,” Nehemiah declared, “who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise (Nehemiah 9:5b, NIV)! God's name is worthy of all praise! We should never treat His name without the respect it is due. “Do not profane my holy name for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who made you holy” (Leviticus 22:32, NIV). We honor the Lord by allowing His name to be revered not only by what we say but how we live. To revere and honor Him, we must know who He is.

I would like to study and explore the spiritual meaning of some of the names of God. Who is God to you? Is He your healer? Is He the Lord who provides? Is He your master? Is He your peace? Do you know Him as your Father? Is He the shepherd who guides you safely? Is He your righteousness? God knows me by my name. I long to know Him by His.

Tomorrow He is El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Open Book

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in. Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting! ” (Psalm 139:1-10, MSG).

The psalmist cried out to God praising Him for His constant and abiding presence, and declaring that nothing in his life was hidden from Him. The psalmist's life before God was an open book. God's constant love was too incredible for him to fathom! How wonderful to have such an absolute reassurance of God's faithfulness no matter what I go through! If God is there for me and wants to help me, why do I sometimes try to hide from Him? He knows me intimately because He created me (Psalm 139:13-16). Yet, sometimes I still hide from him. Sometimes my heart closes to His calling and to His need, because that means that I must become vulnerable. To regard my life as an open book before the world can be a terrifying feeling. But God is not the world. He is my Creator, my Savior, and He knows everything about me. He longs for me to stop erecting walls of what I perceive to be protection. I can't hide from Him, but I can erect walls that keep His love from reaching me. The only way that His love can lift me into His reassuring presence is to let my walls down and surrender all of me to all of Him.

In surrender I discover the truth that where He is there is really freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). Where once I might have tried to avoid exposure of my failures, and even sin, I now long for His light to shine in every corner of my life, revealing what I need to change. I know His love and forgiveness will be extended. I yearn for the revealing, yet reassuring, presence of His Spirit! Where once I sought to be hidden in “safety” from Him, I now realize the ridiculous stupidity of that attempt. Safety is found in my surrender to His love‒not in the energy I might expend to keep him out. Why would I ever believe that I need protection from the God who created and saved my life?

Investigate my life, Lord. Hold me to your truth, and bring me to my knees if I try to erect walls again. Always create whatever I need that drives me to you, and keeps me an open book before you. You know my thoughts before I think them, and my words before I speak. You know the words I will write before I even begin to write. You have walked with me in the past. You are with me now, and you will be with me in my future. You will never leave me or forsake me. That is all I need to know. I have your constant presence, and unending love.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Growing Up

“Each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12, NIV).

Personal accountability is not an option. In His Word, God has standards for our actions in this life. If we break those standards, there are consequences. It is time that we take responsibility for who we are, what we believe, what we say, and how we act. We are not responsible for circumstances over which we have no control, but we are responsible for what we do or say and how we respond to circumstances, our failures, our mistakes, and our problems in life. We are totally responsible for our actions and our reactions. It is time to grow up and realize this accountability.

“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness” (Hebrews 5:12, NIV). If I never make an effort to get off the bottle and grow up, then I remain an infant in my actions and attitudes. I do not understand what God requires of me. But spiritual growth in Christ is a requirement. Spiritual growth does not allow me to make excuses. It instructs that I must take responsibility for my bad attitude or any fly-off-the-handle reaction. It teaches that I should learn from my failure, and if I am responsible for a problem, I should make every effort to not create that circumstance again. Spiritual maturity also tells me that the next time I am faced with circumstances either of my own making or not of my own making, I should react in a mature way which honors God. To do this I need to have grown spiritually until knowledge of His will pervades my life. “We continually ask God,” Paul writes, “to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:9a-10, NIV).

“Bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of the Lord” means that I live a life worthy of of the Lord and my spiritual growth pleases Him in every way (Colossians 1:10) It means that my actions and reactions are controlled by the Holy Spirit. A life controlled by the Spirit exhibits the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The only way that I can have the fruit of the Spirit alive in my life is to allow all my selfishness to be taken to the grave so I can be raised in newness of life in Christ (Romans 6:4). I must surrender all that I believe I need or deserve. When I am willing to be crucified with Him and make this selfless journeywhen I am willing to accept my responsibility for all that I amwhen I am realize that without Him I cannot become my true selfthen I have begun the journey to grow deeper in Him.

Have I matured to the point where my actions and reactions are controlled by Him instead of an unchanged and immature nature? God's plan for my life is always ahead, but I cannot realize it until I allow Him to control my life. One day we all will answer to Him for all our actions, interactions, and reactions. We will answer about how we loved, and if we respected each other. I pray that I will be able to say, “Lord, I have been crucified with you, and you have lived within me.”

I agree with Paul. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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 3:12-14, NIV). I want to grow up to become who He knows that I can be. I press on toward the goal to which God has called me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Enter His Joy Now

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master'” (Matthew 25:21, ESV).

Someone quietly serves and seeks no reward. Someone else humbly washes feet. Another unobtrusively loves and helps others. These are ones who are often passed by and go unnoticed. This morning these words in Matthew 25:21 are whispered to you who have, like the servant in the parable, invested his talents wisely. They are spoken to you who carry your cross faithfully with little recognition, and serve Him no matter what your circumstance. They are spoken to you, who no matter what you quietly face, have faithfully handled each obstacle. He wants you to always know His joyful assurance.

Many times we hear these words in Matthew spoken for those who are ready to meet Him face to face after a lifetime that has been devoted to Him, but these words also speak of entering His presence now. They speak of entering a life of deeper spiritual existence in Him. Serving Him with no need for anything else than just to serve Him, brings you into a fuller life in His Spirit. Others may not see your commitment, your patient heart, and your quiet service, but He sees it. Your reward might not be recognition or wealth, but it is so much greater, and it is yours. It is His joy.

It is His joy complete with its abundant peace. It is His joy that brings a deeply spiritual exhilaration of confidence when faced with pain and suffering. It is His joy that no one can take away from you. His joy is the result of a deeper spiritual existence that comes through a quietly sacrificed and obedient life. It comes as a result of pain and suffering that has been courageously faced. If He is your strength and courage through times of suffering, then, in time, His joy becomes your greatest reward. Entering into the joy of the Lord now is entering into life with Him here on earth. One day your life here will be completed in heaven, and you will know Him as He has always known you. That will be the greatest joy. But until then you can enter into His presence with joy, and know you are a good and faithful servant who quietly and responsibly takes care of what He has entrusted to you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Step Out in Faith

“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV).

Do you ever feel fearful and alone? Downcast? Struggling with no sense of hope? This verse in Isaiah encourages you that even though you may feel deserted and alone, you aren't! You can't trust your feelings. They will betray you. But you can trust what God says in His Word. He won't betray you. His truth is rock-solid, and unchanging. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). You may feel afraid. God says, “Don't be afraid, because I am your God. I haven't given you this feeling of fear. I've given you power, love, and a sound mind!” (2 Timothy 1:7). You may feel evil battering you. God says, “No evil that comes against you will prevail” (Isaiah 54:17). Then He says something that will cost you, but if you pay the price you will discover greater faith. “Trust me,” He says, “and don't be afraid. If you feel weak don't give in to it! Move forward, and faith will meet you. I will carry you.”

Faith will cost you. It will cost you to trust in something that you can't see or feel (Hebrews 11:1). It will cost you to trust in God's truth over fearful feelings. Faith is a decision. When faith is chosen over and over again, and you have continually acted upon it, feelings will one day fall in line with God's truth. You will have trained your mind, your heart, and your very being to believe in God's Word over what human emotion dictates. It is a battle to be won, and you can win it with your decision to step out in faith, and God's promise to uphold and strengthen you. One day you will discover it is easier to believe in God's Word rather than trust how you feel in a moment of time.

Don't ever forget God's promise to uphold you with His righteous and holy power! Don't ever allow fear to keep you from stepping out in faith. Look beyond how you feel at this moment. With one step forward you will discover His strength. Give God a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Praise Him for the promise that His truth is greater than how you feel. “Trust me,” He says.“Don't worry because I am your God. I will strengthen you, and uphold you. You're never alone.”

You can trust Him over everything else. Don't just think about what might happen if you trust Him and step out in faith. Allow Him to show you.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Victory Found in the Valley

Life is filled with valleys. Suffering, fear of the unknown, and hardship are inevitable in life. Without the grace of Jesus I could not sustain the trials of life. The valley reveals how much of His strength I have allowed in my life, and it reveals whether I shall fail or make it. It is in the valley where I discover who I really am and who He really is. It is in the valley I discover His victory that carries me to the mountain-heights of joy.

In the valley—in the midst of the trial, I can become weary and anxious when I don’t know what is next. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul wrote, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6:7). I pray with thanksgiving in my heart knowing that God is in control. No matter what my human mind perceives I believe in His abiding presence, His encompassing power, and the depth of His love for me. I don't worry about anything because I petition and give that problem to God. Is He not also able to handle any problem? Thanking the Lord for His provision reveals faith, and brings His peace. The promise is clear. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Sometimes I make the valley more difficult by not applying my “mustard seed” of faith in the midst of the struggle. Without applying faith, I not only fail myself, I fail God (Hebrews 11:6). When I I try to humanly analyze “why”, I miss the peace of God. I miss His infinite grace which is meant to lift me above the trial. My mind can only be guarded from fear of the unknown when I thank God for His faithfulness, and when my mind dwells upon His infinite ability instead of my trial (Isaiah 26:3).

Dear Lord, I am willing to face the unknown with hope in your faithfulness to me. I will learn the spiritual lesson you wish to impart. I will seek you everyday and discover your burden is much lighter when I focus on you instead of what I fear. When I give you my trial, my fear, my pain, my struggle‒by letting it go in prayer and faith‒supernatural peace will claim my mind and heart. It is a peace that nothing in this world can offer, and it can only be found through the struggles of life. It is a gift from you to lighten my load. Lord, I don't believe that I am just meant to survive in the valley. I flourish because you have poured living water into what might have otherwise been a desert. You rule in my heart, Lord, and my valley becomes my place of victory. My victory has been secured only with my surrender, and with your power and grace. My victory in the valley is my mountain-top joy which will last because it has been gloriously fought for and won.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Seeking God's Answer

Though the answer may linger wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3, NIV).

When I have a question that I believe needs to be answered right away, how do I respond when I have to wait for the answer? Consider Habakkuk, and his need for an answer from God. Habakkuk waited for God’s answer. He stood firm, and believed He would hear. God didn't immediately give the answer Habakkuk desired, but what He told Habakkuk, speaks of the faithfulness of a God who is never late. “Though the answer may linger,” God said, “wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3, NIV). Habakkuk stood firm, and declared he would not move until He had heard from God. He did not wait with an impatient attitude declaring his right to have an answer, but waited patiently and humbly with the awareness of God’s faithfulness. Having brought his question to God, he believed He would hear. He did not struggle for an answer. He waited, and knew God's promise that an answer would come in God's time.

How do I wait for the answer of God's will for my life? How do I wait for His answer concerning what I believe is His promise to me? Do I wait like Habakkuk for my answer? Do I wait in anticipation of His answer? Do I trust in His faithfulness even though I don't understand the delay? I may be frustrated like Habakkuk, but I know God is faithful, and I take my frustration to Him just as Habakkuk did. I let God have my frustration, and I take no action “to make something happen”. I come confidently to God seeking an answer (Hebrews 4:16), and then I wait to hear. At this point in his life, Habakkuk was completely surrendered to God, and God's answer was for him to wait. At this moment in time, this was God's will for Habakkuk's life.

Consider something. When my heart is completely surrendered and self is not an issue, I yearn to be in God's will. If I am so absolutely yielded to Him, I find His will. When I am renewed in the spirit of my mind, and I am transformed, I discover His pleasing and perfect will without struggling (Romans 12:1-2). If I yearn for His desire to be my desire, I am completely willing to surrender my personal desire for His. I am willing to wait as long as necessary for His will or His promise to come into being. I am willing to believe in that promise even if that promise doesn't come into sight (Hebrews 11:6). Do I sometimes get so focused on what God's will or promise is for my life that I miss the truth that the spiritual growth I receive in seeking Him is actually His will for me right now? If He is the focus of all my desire, and His will is not my obsession, I will know His will. When I being transformed into the person He wishes for me to become, I am in His will.

Habakkuk heart broke for the world disintegrating around him. He longed to know why evil existed, and always appeared to win. He felt that he had been pushed to His limit, but He surrendered His “right” to know. My heart might break because I have no answer, but I must surrender what I feel is my “right” to know. Habakkuk brought his complaint to God, and waited with a heart that knew God would answer. He humbly refused to give up. God’s answer to Habakkuk is also His promise to me. “Though the answer may linger,” God said, “wait for it! It will certainly come, and will not delay.” I will seek the Lord with all my heart. I will wait patiently for His direction. I will not try to figure the answer out for myself. In all I do, I will put Him first, and He will direct my steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6). Without struggling and without questioning, I shall have discovered His good, pleasing, and perfect will for my life (Romans 12:2).

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Not About Me

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. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:2-4, NIV).

Is my life one of promise? Do I offer hope? Do I encourage others when they are unable to encourage themselves? Am I sensitive to someone's pain, or do I unconsciously throw fuel on the fire of their pain by casual words that have not been inspired by God? Do I put the needs of others before my own or do I find a way to “just do enough”? In my words or actions, I speak either encouragement or defeat to another person. I speak life or death to another heart.

As much as each one of us might like it to be, His life in us is not about what we want or how we might prosper. It is all about what He desires for us to sacrificially become for the sake of someone else. His desire is for me to love others as He loves meto tenderly and compassionately give my life away expecting nothing in return. Freely He gave. Freely I should give. He desires for me to encourage and speak life where there has been death, and to bless those who feel cursed with the healing presence of Jesus Christ.

What is my life? I pray that it is one that is not about me. I pray it is one that always sees with His eyes, hears with His eyes, and understands with His spirit in order to help someone else realize their potential in Him. I pray it is one that puts another person before myself. I pray that it is one that always loves and encourages with His truth. I pray that it is one that never lets go of believing in His promise for someone else. I pray that it is one that is broken and spilled out as He was broken and spilled out for me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Spiritual House

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3-4, NIV).

Our spiritual lives are starved for the advice this proverb gives. We may not acknowledge it, but it is true. Without God's wisdom to build my lifewithout His understanding which grounds my lifewithout His knowledge which fills my life with His purpose, my life is indeed empty. “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 I allow Him to spiritually grow in me, my efforts at life will have little meaning. I will fail. Unless I allow the Lord to guide and watch over my life, my efforts will be in vain. I don't want my life to be like a spiritually empty house. I can't build me. Only He can.

When I surrender all my efforts at running my life, and allow Him to build it, my spiritual life changes. I have a hunger for His direction instead of my own. I yearn for my life to be filled with knowledge from His Word. I seek His spiritual understanding of the Word so my life may be grounded. When I apply what I have learned through knowledge from the Wordwhen I apply what I have understood through His revelation of its meaning, then I act on what I know. I apply His wisdom. I have spiritually grown and gained a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). My house is built.

Just as many verses in the Word are a promise, so is this scripture in Proverbs 24. If I do my part, He will do His. If I allow Him to own me completely, my spiritual life will be filled with His rare and beautiful treasures. He will impart to me things beyond my own understanding and knowledge. He will fill my life with joy in His purpose. I shall receive the rare and beautiful treasure of His Spirit empowering my life to heights in His purpose with a passion that is beyond anything I ever imagined. My rooms shall be filled to be emptied no more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Handle Life with Prayer

Years ago I bought a coffee mug at Cracker Barrel because of the message printed on it. “Life is fragile. Handle it with prayer.” The clincher is the verse at the bottom which instructs me to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV).

How can I possibly pray continually through the day when I have other things that I need to do–like a job or to take care of others? Is it possible? Yes, it is. Because “praying without ceasing” is a state of mind and a state of spirit. The state of my mind determines the state of my spirit. If I am yielded to Him, then my mind is also yielded, and my spirit is willing.

Praying without ceasing” is not going through my day praying and praying and not taking care of the responsibilities God has given me. It happens when my will (my mind) has been yielded to His will. My mind has surrendered and has determined to be in a state of anticipated prayer. My spirit is surrendered to His Spirit, and it is ready at the moment His spirit within me calls to prayer. When He wishes me to pray, I am at His immediate call. My spirit rests in a state of anticipated prayer because I have surrendered my mind and my will.

Life is fragile. I am constantly reminded of this fact. Friends and family pass away. Accidents happen. Sickness comes. Suffering comes. Heartbreak comes. But He tells me to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV). He wants me to knows that in the fragility of this life, He is the only constant. No matter what is faced, I will rejoice, and I will pray continually, and give thanks no matter what comes, because it is His will. But to me it is more than just His will. It is His promise of peace. Whatever I face, if I have surrendered it all to Him, through a yielded praying heart, then His peace will rule. (Philippians 4:6-7). The desire to be on call for prayer will also rule in my heart, because I shall have experienced the miracle of His spirit praying through me (Romans 8:26).

This life is very fragilehere today and gone tomorrow. I will handle the life He has given me carefully and be ready for each prayer He calls me to lay before Him. As I go through the responsibilities of my day, my spirit will pray for what He has asked. My heart will rejoice in His call; it is His will for my life. I will give thanks from a heart that is owned by the Master, and with His Spirit alive in me I will be complete.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A New Thing

Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:18b-19a, NIV)!

As human beings we sometimes have a tendency to dwell on the past, and often because of this tendency, we miss the beauty of a new thing God creates. A new thing happened in our family this last Saturday. My father married the second love of his life. His first love, my mother, passed away two years ago. If my family had stayed in the past unable to move on in life without Mama, we would have never been able to see the beauty in the new thing that happened in my father's life. We chose not to dwell on the past, but be a joyous part of his new love.

Is there anything in your past that you allow to hold you back from a new thing in your life? Why is it so hard to get rid of old feelings that keep you from experiencing the joy of a new moment? If you have asked Jesus Christ into your heart, you are “new” in Him. Old things are over. The old is not meant to define the new. If you allow the old to control your heart, you can never see the new thing He brings into your life.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life that brings new promise. By His sacrifice and love for you, He has made all your life new. To not dwell on the past and allow it to tarnish the new, you can't just believe “in” Him, you must believe Him and that what He promises is true. To be free from the pain of old feelings that still control your life, you must believe that He will do what He says. You can do all things through the strength that He gives (Philippians 4:13). He shall give you the strength to not dwell on what has been, but to focus on the newif you choose to believe Him.

Find freedom to enjoy your new life in Him. Choose to believe that what He offers is greater than what you have allowed to control your heart. In release to His love, you find freedom from any pain the old has caused. When you believe Him, newness springs up, the old is gone, and you can perceive His loving truth instead of the pain of your past or circumstance. It is a promise that no matter what you face He brings life-giving streams of hope and promise to your life (Isaiah 43:20).

We are thankful for the life-giving streams of hope He has brought into the lives of my father and his new bride. I pray that each one of us continually perceives the beauty of His new in our lives!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Promise

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4, NIV).

Tomorrow is Easter, and it reminds me that I am free because of your sacrifice for me. Tomorrow we celebrate your Resurrection from death so that I might walk in newness of life. Tomorrow I celebrate the moment you came into my heart and made me your own.

You are my place of safe retreat. You are my refuge from my own self. I can retreat from others into myself, but I can never hide from myself–from my own failures, my sins, my weaknesses, and my own limitations. I find that within myself there is no relief. But when I allow all of myself to be “buried” with you—when I surrender all of my lifeI discover that you are my sanctuary. You hide me under your wings until I forget my limitations, and my failures. You hide me until my own sins are washed away and remembered no more. You hide me until relief from my failed life begins to fill my heart. You hide me until the relief of your grace brings great joy. With that great joy, comes freedom and new life.

This is my Easter miracle. You have saved me from all I have been so that I might become the best for which you created me.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dying For You

        “Why didn't it come true?” she cried. “I believed. I had hope.”

        There was no answer.

        “Do you even hear me?”

        “I hear you, child,” he said softly.

        “But I thought you promised.” She stood below his figure on the cross, defeated and blinded by heartbreak.

        “I’m dying right now. Dying for you.”

        She could not look up at him.

        “Look up at me, child.”

        “What do you want from me?” she cried. “Just what do I need to do to make this happen?”

        “Look up at me, child.” His voice, soft against the darkened afternoon, resonated with longing. “Look up. Not down. You must look at me.”

        She was afraid of what she would see.

        “All I ask is that you look up. Is that too much to ask?”

        She had heard the weight of his body tearing the flesh surrounding the nails. She had heard those nails pounded into his hands and feet, but she had been unable to watch.

        “Why did you take my joy away?” she finally cried, eyes focused on the ground beneath his cross.

        “You lost it by yourself,” he said. “I never turned away from you. You looked up at me that one time so long ago, and then you dropped your eyes from mine.”

        She felt the pull. It had been so long.

        “Look on me. My yoke is easy. My burden is light.”

        “I don’t want to feel your pain.”

        “But I feel yours, dear child. I know yours.”

        She wanted to look up, but it would mean accepting his gift as her own.

        “Please,” he cried. “I haven’t much longer.”

        As thunder rolled suddenly in the distance, the cry of his heart resounded within her.

        “Into your hands, Father…” he whispered.

        Gripped by the moment, her eyes swung upward. She barely saw his face, much less his swollen eyes, now closed in obvious agony, yet also in anticipation of imminent release.

        “Lord,” she faintly managed.

        His eyes slowly opened. Peering deeply into the crevices of her pain, her despair, her terror, he ripped them from her heart, and took them upon himself.

        “I commend my spirit,” he finished and died.

Is there something you believe God has promised you, and it didn't happen? Do you feel that God has abandoned you in your need? That He doesn't understand? How can the Savior who died for you not understand your pain? He is there for you right now. Lay your discouragement, your pain, your suffering, your disappointment, and your heart at the foot of His cross, and look up. The promise of Resurrection Sunday and healing is yours.

He is Your Source

          Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. —Psalm 136:1     The strength of your faith is the rev...