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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

His Work



The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NIV).

If you are living a purpose-driven life for Christ, there will be times when others do not understand the work you do for Him. They will judge your motives or question if you are really doing what God has called you to do. Don't hinder His work by feeling you have to justify your calling to everyone who offers an opinion. If you try to meet all the expectations of others, you will ultimately fail, and it will bring spiritual frustration. God is the one who has called you and judges your work. Just do whatever He has asked you to do, and the result will be your reward.

Keep your heart humble and pliable in His hands. Realize those who question your calling have their own hurts, pains, and needs. Place yourself in their shoes to understand the reasons that they question your motives. Pray for these reasons to be resolved in their lives. Sometimes it is jealousy because they feel inadequate in their own Christian lives. Sometimes it is jealousy that God has not brought forth their own promise. Sometimes it comes from spiritual legalism. Whatever the problem, don't try to take care of it within your own strength. In any difficulty with another put yourself in his place and pray that his problem with you will be resolved. Sometimes life pulls at you, or a prideful spirit claims your heart. You may drift away from the heart of your calling without even realizing it. God may send someone to you to spiritually challenge your direction and guide you back into His perfect will. When this happens, be humble enough to realize that there needs to be a change in your own perspective and attitude.

The power to follow God's calling and to discern the concerns of others can only come through a yielded and loving life. It can only come by continual contact with God in prayer and purpose. You can't do your work without deep spiritual communion with Him, and you can't put yourself in another person's place without His love alive and well in you. When you understand your calling and live itwhen you realize that you don't have to justify it to all who question‒when you pray for those who judge you–when you pray for God to keep you humble –when you have a teachable spirit and are willing to honestly asses your decisionswhen your will is totally yielded to Godthen you are walking in His spirit. You are an instrument to be used at God's discretion. You experience the fulfillment of being in His will, and the flowing freedom of His spirit.

Your purpose is to live a surrendered life. His purpose is to do the work.

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Aroma


“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16, NIV).

An aroma can be defined as “an agreeable odor or fragrance”. A less known definition is “a pervasive characteristic or quality”. These verses in 2 Corinthians speak of my life as a Christian, and how God wishes to use me to live His love. To one who is open to know the Lord, my aroma is the fragrant odor of His life, but to the one who is spiritually dying, my aroma is the stench of death. My life should be so deeply pervaded with His presence and captivated by His will that everything about me emits an odor of spiritual wholeness in Him. But I must live my life carefully. The spiritual aroma of Christ in my life can become dampened by personal attitudes that are self-focused instead of God-focused.

What kind of spiritual aroma does my life offer? Do hope, peace, and joy pervade my life? Do I encourage with the love of Christ or do I offer the despair of an ugly and negative spirit? Am I so concerned with never receiving my own promise that my heart is envious of someone else receiving theirs? Does my life speak His peace and contentment or is it filled with the misery of self-pity? Do I live my life joyfully focused on Him or does a bad attitude claim my mind? If everything is about me, then I become a selfish person instead of the selfless one that the Lord calls me to be. Self-pity brings feelings of rejection, and then I isolate myself from others. Bitterness claims my mind and heart, and I drive others away by erecting a wall no one can easily climb. I cannot serve the “god” of self-pity, and also be the aroma of Christ.

If Jesus Christ is the Lord of my life, then there is no room for selfishness and bitterness. My life is meant to draw others to Him instead of pushing them away. I choose everyday whether I allow myself to be the aroma of Christ—whether I allow Him to live and love through me. If my heart is truly His—if my mind is focused on Him—if I seek Him and obediently live for Him, my life will share His promise of new life instead of sharing the stench of death which comes from a self-consumed heart. If my life is not about me, I offer His life. Through a yielded life, He can draw others to Him.

If I choose Him over all that I feel that I deserve and allow Him to guide my heart and claim my mind, I become focused on His will instead of my own. He sets my stony heart free. “For here’s what I’m going to do” He promises. “I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” (Ezekiel 36: 26-28, MSG).

If I draw close to Him, He will draw close to me. If I choose Him above all else, He sets my heart free to love with His love. My life will no longer be consumed with what I want, but with what He wills. If I am God-willed and not self-willed, I can speak the truth in love, and my life will back what I speak. I will offer life to one who opens his heart, but death to another who closes the door. I cannot decide for anyone else, but I can be the aroma of Christ that tears down walls and offers redeeming hope. I can live the life of love He calls me to live. It is my choice to live His aroma.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Think About Your Thoughts

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT).

Think about what you are thinking about,” Joyce Meyer teaches. Now that is something to chew on! Instead of obsessing over and analyzing what is wrong in your life or what the enemy throws at you or a promise that you haven't yet received, keep your thoughts focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He has done for you. Dwell on His love that gave His life for you. Dwell on the fact that He loved you enough to take your failures and your sins to the cross so you can be free. Stay in His Word, and learn of His constant presence and abiding promises. Think continually about the strong omnipotent power that God promises for your life, and ask for it. Think constantly about laying your heart before Him, and seeking open heart-felt prayer with Him. Focus your heart and mind and all your attention on the Almighty God who brings you new life. With a steadfast mind and heart, you can know His peace and receive greater faith. 

Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Pray for greater faith to believe. Think about having greater faith to believe. Dwell on that thought. Keep it in your mind until it is what you think about continually. Get into the Word and learn that faith comes by hearing and understanding the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Read and pray for wisdom to understand the Word. He does not withhold it from you. He gives it generously (James 1:5). That wisdom helps you discern the author of your thoughts, and offers you God's power to bring your thoughts under His control (2 Corinthians 10:5). He extends the power to you, but by faith you choose to exercise it.


When you exercise your faith, it grows stronger. As you give God the gift of your determined and mustard-seed faith, He gives stronger faith back to you with increasing power to believe. Faith and power must be exercised or they will fade away! Think about the faith He has already given you. Determine to overcome the enemy's lies or your own fearful thoughts, and determine to believe in God's truth that His power is real for you. His power and your faith go hand-in-hand. His power in you grows as you exercise greater faith. Your faith in Him is strengthened by the result of what His power brings. Those who “think about what they are thinking about” and keep their thoughts focused on God's faithfulness and power, shall renew their strength. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). They shall know His peace because they will trust in Him.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Into His Forgiving Arms


There is a song that has been on my mind and in my heart since yesterday. It speaks of the love of God which calls me from the darkness of sin in my life. God doesn't reach out to me in judgmental anger. He reaches out to me in love because He sees me through Jesus' gift of His life for me on Calvary. He calls me to die to the sin that keeps me trapped with no hope. His light, which lays bare the sin which separates me from His love, now beckons me with love into His marvelous presence. That sin, which He asks me to let go, is nothing compared to the freeing love of God which draws my heart. That sin has kept me in bondage, and now He beckons me to new life. He asks me to reach for Him instead of it. I reach for His hand, and He lifts me from the pit of my own destruction and despair. He is my life. He is the only way. Into His marvelous light I am running–straight into His forgiving arms.

I once was fatherless
A stranger with no hope
Your kindness wakened me
Awakened me, from my sleep


Your love it beckons deeply
A call to come and die
By grace now I will come


And take this life, take Your life
Sin has lost it's power
Death has lost it's sting
From the grave You've risen
Victoriously


Into marvelous light I'm running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross You are the truth
You are the life, You are the way


My dead heart now is beating
My deepest stains now clean
Your breath fills up my lungs
Now I'm free, now I'm free


Sin has lost it's power
Death has lost it's sting
From the grave You've rise
n
Victoriously

Into marvelous light I'm running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross You are the truth
You are the life, You are the way. (Chris Tomlin)

Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:7-8, NLT).

Thank you for allowing me to send you devotionals. If you wish to be removed from the list, please let me know.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Forgive and Be Forgiven


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

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

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

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

It is exhausting holding on to the pain of unforgiveness. Grabbing on to the bars of our emotional prison, we shake and demand our jailer to release us. The truth is we have jailed ourselves. We keep asking God to release the pain, and all along we have had the key to open the door. All along we have had the freedom and the power to forgive. Are we ready to be released from our bondage of resentment, bitterness, anger, hurt, frustration, and all the terrible feelings that choke the spiritual life from us? If we choose to take the key and open the door, His love and power will move us toward freedom. Experiencing His forgiveness for the sin of our unforgiving heart, the truth of “forgive and you will be forgiven” will transform our heart and mind. We, who have been set free, will truly be free.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Obstacles


"Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls" (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message).
What would you think of the runner who gave up when faced with the first obstacle in a race? That obstacle is meant to lift him upward―to inspire him to greater ability and not pull him back. What about your life and the race you are running for Jesus Christ? What is your reaction when you face obstacles in your Christian walk? Do you allow them to lift you to greater heights of faith in Him, or defeat you before you reach the finish line? Life will always present obstacles. It is what you do with these obstacles that inspire victory or claim defeat.
What is your obstacle at this moment? Keep your eyes on Jesus. Learn about how He was able to finish His race. He never lost sight of the promise at the end. He overcame the obstacles in His way―shame, ridicule, the cross. Nothing He faced defeated His race to the finish. No weapon that came against Him defeated Him. When you face your obstacles remember the hatred that Jesus faced. Remember His commitment and obedience to stay the course. He held out to the end of His race for your sake.
Running your race in Jesus Christ takes spiritual exercise. You must be “stretched to the maximum” for the greatest benefit! That involves pain. With exercise that pain lessens, and “spiritual” muscle mass forms. You begin to toughen and grow spiritually. You have greater strength to overcome each obstacle. When you feel you have lost your wind and can't jump another obstacle, the Holy Spirit grants a second wind that carries you farther along. Just as a runner experiences well-being from his body producing endorphin, when you are “stretched to the maximum” you receive spiritual endorphin from the Holy Spirit that brings joy and peace. Obstacles are meant to stretch and drive you to His Word and to Him in prayer. When you learn who He is and what He overcame for you, His Word “shoots adrenaline into your soul”. Prayer draws you closer to the peace of His presence. Obstacles then have the ability to inspire and not defeat you.

Are you ready to really run your race? Will you move forward, facing and springing over each obstacle with greater spiritual growth? Or will you run and hide and never discover the power He wishes to impart? Rise above your fears and stretch yourself to believe Him. Be diligent and committed to succeed. Allow each obstacle in life to challenge you to greater strength. Refuse any feelings of failure, and don't dwell on what the last obstacle did to you. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He began this work in you, and He will complete it. Trust in His power to face all that comes in life. Run your race until the obstacles of life no longer have the power to defeat you, but carry you victoriously to the finish.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

His Love Rescues Me



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

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

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

Today, whatever might come against me or whatever lie the enemy might send my way, I know God loves me. I can believe in Him. He is greater than anything else in my life. He loves me with His perfect love. He satisfies my soul with His love all the days that I live, and reveals to me the joy of my salvation. Because I love Him with all that I am, I can receive with joy every ounce of the love that He is!





Monday, June 22, 2015

Risk to Believe


In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. 'Lord,' he said, 'if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.' Jesus reached out and touched him. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be healed!' And instantly the leprosy disappeared” (Luke 5:12-13, NLT).

Disfigured, dressed in tattered rags, his face hidden by rags, a man watches Jesus. His body is covered with leprosy. Risking being stoned to death, the leper rushes to Jesus, and falls down with his face in the dirt at his feet. Without raising his head he entreats, “Lord, if you are willing you can heal me and make me clean.” This leper knows that to get within six feet of someone who is clean means that he risks death. Both His determination to come to Jesus and his statement “if you are willing” reveal remarkable faith.

There isn’t a question in the leper’s mind if Jesus can heal, but if he is willing. In the leper’s sudden approach, Jesus recognizes the man’s willingness to risk death in order to be healed. Jesus touches this man whom the law has decreed to be unclean. “I am willing,” Jesus proclaims, and heals him. Skin once ravaged by lesions, now suddenly appears clear and unblemished.

This man has risked death in order to receive healing, and his determination has overcome any fear that would keep him from his reward. Not only his determination has made him rush to Jesus, but His faith has also spoken, “if you are willing you can make me clean.” This leper has faith enough to believe, and faith enough to risk everything in order to receive. He is willing to risk stoning or death even if healing is not in Jesus' will.

Do you have this kind of faith? If you step out in faith, it is a risk that guarantees greater faith. It is a risk that rushes to the Savior knowing He has the power to heal–the power to supply your need, but knowing that the decision to heal or to grant your petition is not yours to make. Just as the leper you are willing to risk all for something that you might or might not receive. The leper risked everything; he persevered, and received. You also need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36). In your risk and determination, and in His will, your promise is received.

Are you willing to risk? To step out in faith? You will discover, just as the leper, that Jesus honors your risk. He knows the cost. You rush forward to Him, and He declares you clean. You move forward to ask, and He honors your faith. There's no more ugliness and scar of sin. There is nothing that keeps you from the Savior who gives you new life. You have risked death in order to receive life. He lifts you up to receive greater faith, and all the promise that your surrender has secured.



Friday, June 19, 2015

Free in His love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,” (1 John 4:15a, NIV).
If the love of God does not control my heart and mind, fear will rise to defeat my faith. When the love of Christ is perfected in my heart, fear cannot claim me. If I grow spiritually and allow His love to perfect and change me for His purpose, I will discover that in my weakness I have His strength. When His love owns my heart, fear cannot claim my mind. Letting Him have control frees my mind from the constant struggle of how I need to make things right, and allows Him to make things right. It ends the constant battle that I have to prove myself or make a point. With God in control, I can be free from the burden of fear that rises constantly to say that I can't do something or I am not good enough.
Fear keeps me from knowing and understanding God's perfect love for me. It informs me that I will never change and my life will always be the same. It keeps me in a state of limbo where nothing good has an opportunity to take root. “We are a product of our past,” Rick Warren says, “but we don't have to be prisoners of it.” I choose to not allow the past to dictate my life now. I choose to allow Him to break the chains that bind me to it. I constantly surrender myself to Him–my time, my work, my priorities, my thoughts, my ideas, my preconceptions, my emotional pains of the past and worries about what has not yet happened. I choose to believe only Him and step out in faith. Fear will not rule my life when His perfect love claims me.
He is Truth. I am not. He is Life. I am not. He is Peace. I have none. He is Joy. I can't create it. He is the great “I AM”, and I am just me. Each day I lay myself upon His altar, and make an offering of my life–of any strength and my many weaknesses. I yield any strength to His control so that He might use it for His glory. I yield my weaknesses so that His power, exemplified in my life, might honor only Him (2 Corinthians 12:9). I wish to offer Him everything that I have and all that I am not. It is in giving myself away that I shall receive. I shall receive His “ALL” instead of the little that I am. With His love completely changing my life, there is no room left for fear. There is only Him, and there is only peace.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

There is an Invitation


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

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

God does not want excuses. He desires our love and an undivided heart which gives Him full allegiance. He longs for our loyalty and faithfulness. We are called to “go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:23b). We are to compel the lame to come and be healed—the blind to come and see. Yet we, in our own lameness and blindness, have enough trouble compelling ourselves to come and be healed. With our lack of commitment the excuses mount, and we remain unable to experience the inexhaustible power of His love which comes with surrender.

God loves us even when we have allowed excuses to hinder our love and commitment to Him. But His forgiving love does not give us a license to decide what we will surrender or won't surrender. He wants us to come to His banquet and will do everything in His power to get us to say “yes”. He will discipline us because He wants us to experience the fullness of surrender. If we reject His invitation to commit our lives, then we will experience a separation from His unconditional love that no human love or attempt at fulfillment can ever bridge.


There is an invitation on the desk of my heart. I can't ignore it. It waits for me to pick it up and respond with every fiber of my being. It calls for my surrender, and for my obedience. Am I finally willing to allow God to have my heart and life? Do I desire His will more than my own? Am I through with excuses that keep me from experiencing the fullness of His love? I will accept His invitation to the greatest of banquets by surrendering my life and my will to Him. One day at His banquet I will finally see Him face to face, and realize it was never a question about His love for me. It was and will always be about my love for Him.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Least is the Greatest

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

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


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

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Sign for You


“Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT).

If you ever want to finish this race of life well, then you are going to have to let go of the thing that keeps you from running a good race. What is the thing that holds you back? What in your life weighs you down? What is hindering your progress? If you ever needed a sign or a wake-up call, then this verse is for you! In this verse two words jump right out and hit you in the face–weight and sin. Sin will not only weigh you down. It will drown you and hold you back from discovering God's potential for your life. You will miss the promise of His blessing that is just within your grasp.

Do you have anything in your life that weighs you down and holds you back? It can be anything from a sinful habit to a relationship that is not healthy. A weight in your life can also be your need to please someone or the need to meet someone's impossible expectation. Perhaps you are allowing a hurt from your past to dictate your life, and hold you in emotional bondage. Whatever your sin–whatever your unhealthy relationship–whatever your emotional pain, you are weighed down by its oppressive yoke. Jesus Christ waits to take it away if you will let it go. There is freedom in Him. He has extended an offer to you. Allow the signs that Jesus brings into your life to point you in the right direction–toward His potential and promise. Never settle for less than the best that He has for you. Never allow fear of letting go of that weight hold you back.
.
In 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 move forward, and trust God to keep him from sinking. “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.” Stepping off the dock with Jesus means no weight will drown you and pull you under. Trusting God and letting go is your freedom. You will find the weightless joy of freedom in His love. Those hurdles in your race of life will pass easily and swiftly beneath you.


The weight of sin–the weight of an unhealthy relationship–the weight of grief that has never had a chance to heal–the weight of emotional bondage that has defined your life–the weight of oppression in your heart …..these hold you back from discovering God's potential and promise for your life. Let go of the weight, and step off the dock into His arms. Not only will you walk on water with Him, you will soar weightlessly in that promise that at this moment seems just beyond your grasp. Letting go of that weight will be the most certain thing you have ever done.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Lord Himself


"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV).

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

If He is Lord of your life, then why are you afraid and why are you discouraged? Perhaps your heart has been ripped into shreds or you have forgotten how to reach for His comfort and strength. Perhaps feelings of fear have claimed your mind and heart instead of faith in knowing that the Lord God Almighty Himself walks with you. No matter how rejected or betrayed or alone you may feel, there is this truth of His absolute presence and abiding love. He never betrays or rejects. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He carries you through the fire, and He rejoices with you in the victory. He moves mountains with your mustard seed of faith, and He brings greater faith because you have invested that seed in Him. He raises you to walk in His strength and purpose no matter what tries to discourage you. There is no change in His constant and consistent commitment to you. If you will constantly and consistently seek Him, you will understand the depth of His love and commitment to you. You will know the Lord Himself is with you whatever comes your way.

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

There is no greater peace than knowing that the Lord Himself has your life in His hands.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Obediently Blessed

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Choose His Presence



He will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6b).

Do I believe this promise that he will never leave or forsake me? It is a guarantee. If I don't feel His presence all the time that does not mean He has forsaken me. He doesn't change (Hebrews 13:8), and He doesn't leave. When I have something in my life that is wrong, I don't feel a closeness to God. I have an uneasiness that lets me know I need to make a change in my attitude, thought-life, or action. When there is something that blocks His presence in my life, I have no peace because my life is not surrendered to Him completely. I feel He has left me, but He hasn't. He is still there waiting for my return. If I have sinned the feeling of separation that comes with that sin is very real, but it does not come from Him. It comes from my own decision to go against what I know is His truth. If I haven't surrendered in areas that He wishes to be surrendered, He prunes “self” out of my life. When either “sin” or “self” stands in the way of a surrendered relationship with Him, I feel alone and struggling to understand what is wrong. What is wrong is me. He has not forsaken me. I have forsaken Him.

If I have something in my life I know is not right, I must turn completely from it, and ask for His forgiveness. If I have wrong attitudes and desires, I must surrender the “selfishness” that harbors them, and choose what is right. If there is anything He wishes for me to surrender to His will, then I must give up that which keeps me from intimacy with Him. When my life is surrendered to Him, I have a calming peace from believing and knowing that He is with me. I am thankful that though His supernatural presence is always comforting, I do not need to constantly have a sensory feeling of His closeness to know He is with me. I have His guarantee. I know His peace even when all around feels dark. I know in whom I believe, and know He is able to keep me safe no matter what happens. There is the deepest peace that comes from surrender of self and choosing to believe by faith that He is with me. With that peace comes the feeling of completeness for which my heart has so longed. Those days He fills me with feelings of His amazing presence mean so much more because I have chosen to believe in Him on days when life is hard.

Feelings depend upon moods, circumstances, and outward pressures. His peace comes from within and never without. I may be influenced by circumstances, but He never is. His promise is always kept. He promises to keep my world at rest through days that spin out of control. To have His peace that passes my human capability to understand, I surrender all of myself to Him. I let go of everything in my life that stands between us. I give Him all that I feel, and I choose to believe in what He has promised. He will never forsake or leave me.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Call And He Answers


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

Slow down this morning and dwell on this verse in Jeremiah. It is an incredible promise. If you rush into your morning without taking time to partake of its promise, you will miss something the Lord wishes to show you. This verse is an absolute truth in God's constant and abiding Word. If you call to Him, He will answer. You do not ask a void for an answer. You ask the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God. You ask the Creator of the universe. You ask your loving God who knows you better than you know yourself. You ask your Father for His time, and He gives it willingly and unsparingly because you are precious to Him. You ask the Lord who is everywhere at the same time, and yet He is there for you. You ask an all-powerful God who is there for all who believe. He brings the same power to your need that He used to raise Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19). There is no other name that you need, but that of Jesus Christ.

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

This is is picture of how your life can be with Him. Call to Him. Pray to Him. Cry out to Him, and He will answer you. It is when you want all of Him, and have given up all of yourself–your desires and your “rights”–that His unsearchable truths fall behind the importance of loving Him. The unsearchable truths are beyond magnificent, but He is.......! There are no words for who He is except “joy unspeakable and full of glory”.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Iron Sharpens Iron


“Your hair!” Amanda exclaimed. “What has happened to your hair?”

I glanced in my rear view mirror and realized that whatever had happened to my hair had also happened to my glasses. No wonder everything had seemed s0 blurry on the way to Birmingham this Sunday afternoon. Hugging my friend, Chaundra, at the altar that morning had obviously been more than about praying with her. I had been covered by more than her prayers. Her hair dressing had covered me, too!

What a blessing to be reminded that those that pray for us leave a part of themselves covering our lives! But Chaundra left more than just a part of herself on me that day at the altar! Her life impacts mine, and I pray that mine impacts hers. We pray to make a difference in each others' lives–for God to use us to bring out the best in each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Psalm 17:17, NLT).

How many times do we miss the opportunities God sends to invest our lives in others? Not only have we missed the chance to make a difference in their lives, but they have missed a chance to make a difference in ours. What is strong in me should be made stronger by contact with those God sends into my life. What I have needs to be tested to see what if it is worth. I need to know where I am weak so that I can allow the Lord to have control over that part of my life. My life should also be strong enough and courageous enough to address with loving concern those things that should be addressed. “Speaking the truth” in love has the greatest power to make a difference when spoken to another who is strong enough to receive it. When the psalmist writes that “iron sharpens iron” he does not write of strength that is not teachable. True strength is teachable and responds to the “iron” which is brought to bear upon its life. I should receive with a teachable spirit that which I give out because God is using my friend to sharpen my life for His purpose.

Who has God brought into your life to strengthen you? Who has He brought for you to encourage to become stronger? Most often it is a friend because a friend will seek out another friend. When your friend shares his heart, he has trusted you enough to make himself vulnerable to what you think of him. If your friend comes to you seeking advice, pray for God's wisdom and always extend the grace of honesty without judging him. If you are a loving friend, and not a “Job” friend, you will know that you don't have all the answers, but you will carefully listen. If the Holy Spirit gives you insight, you will only offer that insight, and not place any expectation upon your friend. You make a suggestion, and also make it clear that you love him no matter what–that you do not have all the answers. God extends free will to us, and we must do the same. We can't demand anything of anyone, but we can love completely with His love that sees potential without passing judgment.

If you friend comes to you “speaking the truth in love”, listen with the love of Jesus in your heart. Realize that what you hear might not be pleasant to your ears, but it also might be necessary to make a difference in your life. Do not take it as a judgment of your character. Listen to what your friend says and ask for the Lord to reveal if it is something that needs to be addressed. Yes, there may be “emotional” feelings of hurt at first, but take the time and pray about what has been said to you. God will use it to make a difference in your life. The advice will either inspire you to change something in your life or teach you how to respond without hurt to advice which, though not applicable, has been offered in love.


This is the “iron” of Calvary–His love that makes a difference–the iron that sharpens iron. I pray that what is strong in the lives of my friends always sharpens me, and that my life always brings out the best in theirs. Spiritual growth is “iron sharpening iron”. It is allowing my friend to rub off on me. So if you ever hear me say to Chaundra, “come grease me up good”, what I am saying is come and impact my life for His kingdom, and allow me to impact yours. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Psalm 27:17, NLT).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Changed by a New Heart


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, The Message). I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19, The Message).

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

This first verse in Ezekiel speaks of this heart change that takes place within each one of us. The Holy Spirit does everything within His power to soften my heart. Through circumstances or relationships, He continually places me in a position where I either allow Him to move in my life or I turn away from His will. He desires to change my cold, unfeeling heart and give me one that beats with His love. If I will give Him the freedom to change me, the attitude of my heart will no longer be cold and withdrawn. Instead of being uncaring over the pain of others, my heart shall break for their suffering. My heart shall experience the divided state of their heart that they may not even know exists. My heart will understand with the flesh of the pain of my Savior. He will place His Spirit within me, and I will be consumed by His love. I shall have a heart that feels with the pain that He bore for me–yet loves with the hope of Resurrection promise.


When each of us allow Him to give us a new heart, and to put His spirit within us, we alone not only benefit from the change. The body of Christ will come to also have that new spirit within its own heart (Ezekiel 11:19). The church shall be set free to move into His presence as never before. It will be free of a stony heart that has judged and divided the body. Now it shall receive His life, because it has been freed from the tyranny of a stony heart. Our heart, where once it was hard and cold, shall worship Him with every breath of our life. And His Spirit will flow and bring a wholeness and unity of purpose that will usher in a newness of spirit never before experienced. We shall be totally set free to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Our lives will forever be changed by His love.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Jealousy


“A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones” (Proverbs 14:30, NLT).

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Investment in Your Friend's Life


Do you have a friend who is struggling with something that is tearing his life apart? Perhaps it is something that consumes himlike an addiction. Perhaps it is fear or generational bondage. Perhaps it is the lie of an enemy to destroy. Maybe you don’t believe you can help him experience freedom, but you can. Pray for him and with him. Intercession not only gives you spiritual insight, but builds faith. Pray regarding what you share, and be sure the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Before you offer yourself to help your friend, realize that the offer you are about to make is a commitment to not only your friend, but to God. It is your investment in his life, and it is offered with the expectation of nothing in return.

  1. Listen to your friend. Take time to understand what he is saying. Many times we don’t hear because we are planning what we are going to say next.
  1. Do not judge. If someone confesses to you, do not criticize him. Realize that he reaches out to you because he trusts you.
  1. Keep his confession confidential. Whatever he reveals, don’t tell others. Treat his confidence as a sacred trust.
  2. Pray with him for deliverance and healing in Christ. Encourage him that there will be a day when he will be free from that bondage.
  3. Persevere. Don’t give up. Believe in him when he is at his lowest. Don’t allow him to isolate himself.
  4. Share the Word. Assist him in Bible study, and help him discover God’s promises.
  5. Keep your own relationship with the Lord pure. If you are not open to the Lord’s correction, you cannot help your friend.
When you make your life an offering, the Holy Spirit does the miraculous. Not only will the Lord deliver your friend from his bondage, but you will experience an anchor of deeper faith and trust in God. Remember that the grace of Christ is more than sufficient to meet this need (II Corinthians 12:9). If you surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit, He does the work (1 Thessalonians 5:24). “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life,” C.H. Spurgeon wrote. “ Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend." Be the friend that invests and inspires, and believes. You are not alone. He is with you.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Smaller Purposes


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV).

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

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

Being renewed in your mind means being changed in the way that you think. Think differently about the little things that you do each day for Him. Don't believe that you have failed Him because you haven't perceived a great purpose. Live each day with expectancy that you shall be used by God that day. Ask Him for opportunities to be used, and you shall receive. Discover the purpose of your day that brings glory to His name. Make yourself available with a joyful spirit. Discover your passion in what has been given for you to do now. With a yielded heart of surrender and a mind to receive the direction of His Spirit, you can test and approve each opportunity that a day presents. Set your hand to the plow for the day and plow your purpose. You can “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3. NIV). You shall be in His willHis good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Remember that God does not consider any service as being small. If you seek and serve Him faithfully in what you consider the small things, you will one day learn just how big they really are. You shall know that you have found the great, passionate, and perfect will of God for your life.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Whatever We Ask


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6, NIV).

There is no need to worry about anything I face. If I have a need, I will present my request to God, believing and trusting that no matter what I lay before Him, He will answer. The phrase “with thanksgiving” in this verse means that I have assurance that He will take care of my plea for help. When I give my need to Him in prayer, I feel thanksgiving in my heart when its weight is lifted from me.
Are there times you hesitate to ask because you believe He doesn't take notice? Are there times you feel defeated and alone? When the circumstances of this life overwhelm, you can feel abandoned if you do not continually lay your heart on His altar. He has never abandoned you. He has waited patiently for you to come to Him in prayer. The Lord has an answer for what burdens your heart. He can miraculously lift it, or instead guide you through it with His powerful hand. All you need to do is ask with whatever faith you can supply, and He will supply beyond anything your limited human mind can imagine. His supply takes your little mustard seed of faith, and brings a great harvest (Matthew 17:20).

If you lay your heart's burden on His altar and take your hands off of it, He will move mountains. When you allow Him to have the cry of your hearttruly have itthe burden lifts and you are filled with thanksgiving that He will answer your prayer with His best answer. You have finally realized that His answer is the only one. The cry of your heart has become the will of your Father in heaven. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14, 15).

If He can move mountains, He can move you, and He can move me to prayer. We have not because we ask not (James 4:2).

Monday, June 1, 2015

Not by Appearance

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.' But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (I Samuel 16:6-7, NIV).

In this Scripture God has sent Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem with the instruction that He, the Lord, has chosen one of Jesse's sons to be the new king. Samuel looks on the outer appearance of Eliab, and immediately believes him to be God's chosen. But God lets Samuel know that Eliab is rejected. He is not the one. God has chosen David, a simple shepherd boy, to be His anointed.

How many times do we look on someone's outer appearance, whether in looks or clothing or size or manner, and judge who they are? How many times have we done as Samuel, and expected God to choose a particular someone for a purpose only to discover that our choice was not God's choice? How many times do we believe we know what is going on in someone's life only for God to show us that we know nothing at all? We really do not know the depth of that person's heart. Man always perceives with what his physical eyes see. But God wants us to look on others with the openness of His heart and His Spirit. He wants us to be able to see past any perceived fault and recognize the potential that God knows is there.

God saw promise in a shepherd boy. He saw David's heart, and knew His potential. Not only does God see the potential in other people and does not want us to judge them, God sees potential in our lives, too. What we do to others, is often returned to us. To recognize what God sees in us, we must seek to see what He sees in others. It is then that God's instruction to “to not judge lest ye also be judged” is closer to being understood.


I am thankful this morning that God always sees His potential in me. I may fail, but He sees my promise. I pray that I extend the same to others. Often the quiet “Davids” are passed over for the others who shine. I pray to always have His eyes to see potential in the hearts of those He brings into my life, and to realize that they are chosen for greatness.

As Christ Has Loved Me

    What kind of love do I extend? Do I love with the love of Christ? Jesus said to love my enemies; do good to those who hate me; bless tho...