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Monday, November 30, 2015

Blessed by a Sacrifice of Praise

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV).

Praise. It is my sacrifice and my offering to God. It is that very instance, when in my most difficult circumstance, distress is calmed and there is a hope for peace. Praise dispels worry, and confusion changes into clarity. Praise will ultimately dispel fear of the unknown, and bring His peace and joy.

In praise I am changed. No matter how difficult my problems or my circumstance–no matter how fearful the thought–praise changes my outlook. Praise in the midst of hardship breaks down inner walls. Praise in the midst of fear releases faith. When things are hard—when fear persists—when problems overwhelm, I will seek reasons to be thankful. I will seek to realize His blessings that slip by unobserved. “Why am I discouraged?” David cried out. “Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11, NLT). The gift of thanksgiving in my heart—no matter what is going on in my life—is my sacrifice of praise. 

Giving God a sacrifice of praise is a decision that I will praise Him no matter how I feel. I will discipline myself to praise Him. One day that sacrifice of praise will no longer be a sacrifice. It will come from a heart that knows beyond anything I imagine, hear, see, or experience that He is faithful to carry me safely through each moment of life. My heart and mind shall no longer focus on any pain, or any fear, but on His faithfulness and His blessings. I shall praise Him as David praised Him—knowing that my praise is my vow to give Him glory no matter what happens in my life.

I will praise you in the great assembly.” David proclaimed, “I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you” (Psalm 22:25, NLT)! And what will my sacrifice of praise offer others who worship? “The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy” (Psalm 22:25, NLT)! Those who are poor in faith will eat and be satisfied! Those who seek the Lord will praise and rejoice with everlasting joy! Not temporary joy, but everlasting joy! And blessings shall flow in my life and in the lives of others! It is His promise that comes from my sacrifice of praise.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Obedience of Surrender

Without delay I hurry to obey your commands” (Psalm 119:60, GNT).

How often when instructed by the Lord do I procrastinate or even become disobedient to His command? If the Lord instructs me to do something, He expects my obedience. If He speaks to my heart about an attitude, He expects my obedience to change that attitude. If He speaks to me about something in my life that is wrong, He expects my obedience to repent and stay away from it. He expects my obedience to live a righteous life that glorifies His name, but often I, like others, can find a reason not to listen. If I am not careful, the excuses will mount to the point where my calloused heart no longer hears His voice. If I don't want to lose His intimacy in my life, then I will “let God transform me inwardly by a complete change of mind” (Romans 12: 2a, GNT),

Obedience is not an option, and it does not just happen. It is born of deep commitment to God. It certainly calls for personal sacrifice. When it is born of sacrifice, obedience speaks of my willingness to submit to God’s desires instead of my own. Disobedience stems from pride. Longing for personal acceptance by others, it says “no” when the sacrifice calls for humility. Often obedience contradicts the desires of my own heart. This is where obedience really begins–in my willingness to say “no” to me, and “yes” to God. When I put Him before everything else in my life, I discover the peace and joy found in surrender. Surrendering to the Lord's desires for my life reveals my reverence for the costly price of His sacrifice, and my surrender allows Him to transform me. “Your heart and mind must be made completely new” Paul wrote (Ephesians 4:23, GNT). Allowing Him to transform my heart and mind is where I discover who I really am. It is my greatest fulfillment.

The Lord yearns for you and for me to have an obedient heart—one that listens to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit and follows His will without argument. He longs to hear, “Without delay I hurry to obey your commands!” No hesitation in obeying His will–no delay in laying down our own “rights”. Are we pliable in His hands? Do we allow Him to mold our life or are we rigid and unyielding? To discover the fulfillment that a surrendered life brings, we yield and become pliable in His grasp. His sure and constant pressure brings forth a beauty of character that is unsurpassed, and a life that joyfully and consistently experiences peace. If we surrender we will be able “to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect” (Romans 12:2b).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blessed Beyond Measure

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV).

If I trust in the Lord and have confidence in Him I will be blessed and favored by Him. I will receive all of the Lord's strength for whatever comes against me. I will stand strong against the enemy's attempt to destroy my faith. Like the roots of a tree seeking water for life, my soul, mind, and spirit shall seek His living water. They will persevere through whatever tries to impede their progress until living water is found. Once discovered this water, His Word, will feed my soul with all I need to withstand the onslaught of life. My roots in His Truth shall anchor me strongly, and I shall live safely and securely in His presence. His perfect love will cast out any fear. I shall be like a tree planted by water that continually receives water for nourishment. Faith will secure me, and no circumstance shall create fear. I will continually draw from His living water, and thrive in His Truth. No matter what may come against me, my life will remain supple and pliable with His purpose. No worry will grow where faith has taken root. I will store His living water in my roots so in times of drought, I shall draw from their truth. He will remain in me as I remain in Him. As long as I continue to seek His living water, my life will bear His fruit. My life, filled with peace, will live His grace, mercy, and love. 

This is my perfect dream! To achieve this kind of faith–a faith that withstands all that comes against it–a faith which fear cannot destroy! I wish to live such a life that continually speaks His peace, remains calm in all seasons, offers hope to others, and lives His love. The truth is this kind of faith is absolutely possible. But I must do my part. I choose to place my trust and confidence in Him. I choose to seek Him. I choose to put down deep roots in His Word. I choose to apply it to my life. I choose Him over anything else. Then I shall understand that He chose me long before I chose Him. Into every fiber of my being, I will draw His love which sets me free. I will be strong because He is strong. No weapon that comes against me will uproot His faith in my life. I will be blessed beyond measure.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Allow My Heart

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

You long for peace and for blessing. Your heart must seek mine. Your decisions will be the right ones if you commit them to me and desire me before anything else. Place your will on my altar as your most precious offering. I gave up my will for you when I died for you. Now I long for yours to be given in love. Now I seek yours. Trust that what I shall do is best for you. Believe that I am powerful enough to do anything and everything. Believe that nothing is impossible in my hand. Then leave all with me with thanksgiving in your heart. Give me your tired heart, your struggles, your hard days, your thoughts, your whole being–all in you that yearns to be free. Be confident of my safety and complete protection. When you give all to me, I am not only the Lord of your present, but also the Lord of your future. It is in my hand. You cannot see the future, but you can trust me for it.  Right now, child, if you could see all of the future, it would either be too painful or too amazing for you to comprehend its importance. I will reveal it all as I determine. Have faith that I have loved you with my everlasting love and drawn you in my unfailing kindness. If you accept my heart and my will, you will know joy. You will know peace when I have all of your life in my hands. Look to me the author and the finisher of your faith. Allow your heart to be molded by mine, and your heart will be free.

(This devotional is taken from the following Scriptures: Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 16:3, Luke 22:42, Luke 1:37, Hebrews 13:8, Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 62:11, Philippians 4:6-7, Revelation 22:13, Isaiah 41:13, 1 Corinthians 13:9-12, Jeremiah 31:3, Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 3:17.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Greatest Choice

“Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp” (Psalm 131:1, NLT).

Lord, you call me to do things that seem beyond my strength and ability. I'm so thankful that in times of weakness, you give me all that I need to accomplish what you wish. Often what lies ahead overwhelms my heart, but your will is all that matters. Often others do not understand, and I feel stripped, alone, and vulnerable. It is in that lonely moment I realize you are all I need. You were stripped of all support for me. Now you are my constant support and my constant strength. You carry me through fire with your joy still alive and strong. You carry me safely through deep waters that would drown me if you were not my anchor and shield. You are my strong and mighty tower that endures through every moment of life.

Lord, keep me from a prideful spirit. Keep me on your altar until my heart is so broken that it remains forever pliable in your hands. I don't want to have my way, Lord. I want yours, and I seek it. I won't be concerned over things that are too deeply complicated at this time for me to grasp. You create the masterpiece. I know my life is only a small part of your greater plan. I trust you to take care of that which is beyond me. I let go of all “self” that hinders and keeps me from greater reliance on you. I trust you over any perceived promise. I trust you over anything my human mind conceives. I love you, Lord, more than anything else. You are all I need. Thank you, Lord that you are God, and I am not. You are Savior, and I am not. I never create or save. I pray to always be your available instrument, but, thankfully, I am free because I know that you are in control. I choose to believe who you say I am. I leave myself on your altar, and I choose you. You are my greatest choice.

Friday, November 20, 2015

His Word My Hope

You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope” (Psalm 119:114, NLT).

Lord, when the struggles of this life overwhelm, you are my sanctuary. When I'm not strong enough to stand, you are the strength that carries me. When I feel vulnerable to the onslaught of those who come against me, you are the shield that protects. You are your Word; you and your Word are my sources of hope in this world. When the world speaks defeat, you speak victory. When the world speaks death, you speak life. When the world turns its back, you are constant and unchanging. When the world accepts the latest belief, your Word is solid and pure. It inspires all the hope I need to reach for you. I can't place hope in a word that changes because then my hope would have no meaning. But your Word is Truth, and it is rock-solid and unchanging. What it promises it provides. I can believe in what you impart through your abiding Word. I can believe in your faithfulness above all the world's fickleness. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with you, and you were the Word (John 1:1-2). Not only did it exist, Lord, but it was and is your very heart and being!”

His Word is my source of hope! The New Living Translation version of John 1:1-2 speaks of the Word as “He”. The Word was God in the beginning. The Word is God now. If I want to know God, I will know His Word. If I want to know His hope, I will make His Word my most intimate friend. Whatever I face, I can hope in His Word! “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Roman 5:3-4, NIV).

How do I glory (rejoice) in that which is my refuge and shield? I rejoice when I grow through hardship in perseverance and character and hope. I rejoice when God's Word inspires me to discover His promise for my life. Hope does not disappoint–it does not discourage–it does not shame when it is placed in God's Word. His love has been poured into my heart through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that love anchors me to believe in His Truth. It is what a volatile world so desperately needs, but cannot grasp without believing in Him. Help me to live and always hope in His Word!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Have Confidence

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

You are never alone. I am with you," He gently whispers. “Don't worry about what tomorrow holds. Today is enough for you. Don't dwell on what has not even happened. I keep your future from you on purpose. Your faith is precious, and it cost me my life. Don't sacrifice my love for you by not trusting in me. Trusting and having faith in me comes by hearing and knowing my Word. It comes through an intimacy with me that creates absolute certainty in my faithfulness to you. Learn of me. Know me, and your future is safe and secure in me. No weapon that forms against you will succeed. No problem will be too great or horrible for you to handle. You will soar above whatever might come because you have waited on me instead of trying to take matters into your own hand. You have sought me. You have found my truth. You have taken my Word, and it has become your very life. No matter what your future may hold, it is secure in me. My ways are higher and greater than any other. I am your unassailable defense. Trust me, and nothing shall break the faithful confidence you have in my plans for your life.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bringing Down Your Wall

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV).

Sometimes in life you discover that you are unable to speak with someone with whom you have previously shared your heart. You feel a wall growing. You might know the reason for it or not. The longer time passes, the more hardened that wall becomes and difficult to pull down. You feel paralyzed and unable to do anything. You are fearful to do anything about it, and where fear resides, the Holy Spirit is unable to move. The larger the wall, the harder it is to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, much less the freedom He wishes to impart.

If that wall consumes your life, it has grown bigger than your God. Fear has you in bondage. The best way to face your wall is to make the decision that it must come down. Through continued prayer and supplication, you can feel God removing your obsession with the fear that wall brings. You can discover the freedom to stop analyzing that wall, and trust God to take it down. You can allow Him to have your wall, realizing that only He can move mountains. With that release comes His freedom to speak or not to speak to the person on the other side of the wall. He will lead you to address the issue or just let it go. When you have erected the wall, you are the only one who can open yourself to God and allow that wall to come down in your life. But you must do as He leads you.

If He does lead you to speak to the other person, pray for the Lord to take control. Pray for His guidance and freedom to talk to that person. Pray for His Spirit to crucify any selfishness you have or any preconceived idea. Come with an open heart and spirit to listen. Realize that no one is perfect. Only the Lord. Be honest, and speak your heart in His love. Ask for a heart softened by the Holy Spirit and be ready to admit it if you are the problem. Ask for forgiveness, and also return that forgiveness freely. Ask for a heart to understand what the other person wishes to say, and remember that where the Holy Spirit is, there is freedom.

You can't take down another person's wall. You can only take down your own. You can share in honesty, and pray that the Holy Spirit will help the other person realize that you are truly sorry for whatever caused the problemthat you desire Him to rebuild your relationship with His healing presence. The wall which imprisoned can be laid to rest. Hopefully and prayerfully, the other person will experience the love and freedom and healing of the Holy Spirit, too. But it is not your place to bring healing. That is His work. It is only your place to love with the love of Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to empower and direct you. He can bring down your wall and set you free from its control.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Choices Before You

“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16, NIV).

Making good choices is necessary for a good life. You can either choose life and prosperity or death and destruction. Moses reminds the Hebrews in verse 19 to choose life over death. Choose life or choose death? What sane person would not choose life over death? Many times, though, you don’t see erroneous choices eating away at the fabric of your life and also of others in your realm of influence. God wishes for you to make good choices in order to receive His blessings and affect others positively. However, He also wishes you to know that bad choices not only harm you, but wreck havoc in the lives of others.

“It is difficult to always know if I am making a good choice,” you declare. Moses tells the Hebrews, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach” (Deuteronomy 30:11, NIV). Guess what? It is not out or your reach either, or is it too hard.

“But how is it possible?” you ask. Moses' answer speaks of the best choice of all! “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:14, NIV). Faith to believe you are capable of continually making good choices comes from hearing the message, and the message is only heard through the word of God (Romans 10:17). The Word can only be alive if you have allowed it to change your heart. Whether it has any power in your life always comes down to a matter of the allegiance of your heart

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Proverbs 16:3, KJV). Where your thoughts are, so is your heart. Sometimes when you are faced with the need to make a decision, you honestly don’t know what God’s will is. But you must make one. Commit your decision to the Lord. Ask Him to change it if you make a wrong decision. Believe in His ability to change your decision if it is wrong. If He realizes that the intention of your heart is surrender to His will, He faithfully honors your prayer. He will anoint your decision or change the circumstances so that His correct decision is made. He will not fail you.

How do you accomplish this? In Deuteronomy 30:16 we discover the means, and then read of His promise if we comply. You are to love the Lord your God with body, mind and spirit. Your heart should hunger for His righteousness instead of your own desires. This means giving up what you might choose for what He considers best. It is the truth of God’s Word which sets you free and enables you to follow His commandments and walk in His will (John 8:32).

What has God promised you? Just as He wished for the Hebrews to possess the land He had promised them, He wishes you to realize your own promise. “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10: 35-36, NIV). Do you see what this verse reveals? Have confidence in God to direct your choices, and He will reward your perseverance! If you know His choices you have discovered His will. When you have done His will, what happens? You receive what He has promised! You have chosen life and prosperity!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lead Me

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

I trust in you with all my heart, Lord–not with just a little bit that I allow, but with all of it. I surrender all of my heart–all of the struggle to find my own way through life. I surrender the pain of all my own failure to you. I surrender the hurt that has tortured my heart and the thoughts that have claimed my mind. I'm tired of holding on to all that I can't control. I'm tired of insisting on my own way. I'm tired of trying to make happen what I desire. I have nothing left right now. I have nothing left, but you. And you are exactly what I need now that I have been emptied of me.

So come, Lord Jesus. You are my Savior. Reach down and lift me from the bottom of this pit. My heart submits to you. When I'm drained of all strength, I trust in you. When I am empty with no purpose, I trust in you. When I am lost in a valley of pain and suffering, I trust in you. When my heart feels like it can't take another blow, I trust in you. When I have lost that which I hold the most dear, I trust in you. When I can't hear you or see you or feel you, I trust in you. When I don't understand why, I trust in you. You are my fortress, Lord God. You are my mighty tower. You are my deliverer.

Lead me, Lord. Lead me out of this valley. Whether it be of my own making or not, lead me out. I need you to make my path straight. I need you to show me the way I need to move forward. My hand is in yours. My heart rests in you. Your heart beats in me. You are my guide in all that lies ahead. You are my joy and my victory. Lead me, and I will follow. Lead me to the Rock that is stronger and so much higher than I.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Teachable Spirit

As a believer in Christ I am instructed to have a teachable spirit–to be open to the Lord's instruction. I do not have the option to ignore the transformation the Holy Spirit wishes to continually bring in my life. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers,” the apostle Paul declared, “in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).

My whole life should be a “spiritual act worship” to the merciful God who became a living sacrifice for me. If I live a surrendered and holy life, my obedience pleases God. My life becomes one of worship. If I worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24), I offer a yielded heart and mind that seeks to be more like Him. I yearn to grow spiritually. Spiritual transformation is discovered in the renewing of the way I think and allowing the Holy Spirit to mold my attitude. A willingness to be renewed means that I am open to learn something new in my walk with the Lord. It means that I don't have all the answers, but that I am continually seeking Him. “You were taught,” Paul also wrote,” with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 23-23, NIV).

Now you must be holy in everything you do,” Peter wrote, “just as God who chose you is holy” (I Peter 1:15, NLT)) However, I cannot live a completely righteous life until my attitudes and desires are what He wishes. As I am taught and transformed by His Spirit, I discover God’s holiness, and strive to live it. If something is not right in my life, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and I immediately repent. If I also need to grow spiritually in an area, the Holy Spirit reveals it, and I choose to change. As I add His virtues in my life (2 Peter 1:5-7), my heart and mind are open to His sanctifying presence. When my heart and mind are constantly renewed, I am able to put off the old self and put on the new one.

God seeks the whole earth for those whose hearts totally belong to Him (I Chronicles 16: 9). To such a person God gives His strength which empowers personal change. When David’s sin with Bathsheba was brought to his attention by Nathan (Psalm 51), David hit the ground in repentance. There was no hesitation in his humble heart. His example teaches that I need to be spiritually open to the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. David experienced God’s forgiveness because of his repentant heart. If his heart had been calloused, David would have never been open to Nathan's instruction, and he never would have repented. He would have never been able to cry out “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a loyal spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NLT).

When I repent God cleanses my heart, and washes away the sinful impurities that separate me from His love. He promises, “I will give you a clean 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). Where once my heart was as hard and unyielding as stone, now he promises it shall beat with the pulsating blood of His living sacrifice. Where once calloused inner pain held back God’s spiritual growth in my life, now I shall be energized by His living presence. A new heart and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with the desire to keep His laws and commandments–not because they are rules to be followed, but because I love Him above all else. His law shall be my delight, and in every way He shall be my God and I shall belong only to Him (Ezekiel 26: 27-28).

Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” Jesus told his disciples (Matthew 13:16, NIV). The only way that I will continually discover this promise is to have a teachable spirit and mind that are constantly transformed by the hand of God.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Blessed to Bless

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: 'May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27, NLT).

God wishes to bless us, but He has a reason and a purpose in it. He blesses us so that we can bless others. He knows that when we give ourselves away we are emptied to receive. He knows that when we share from the bounty of His love that we make more room for that He wishes to impart. He knows that in blessing others we shall be fulfilled in purpose. This is a beautiful continuous cycle of God's blessings. We are blessed so that we can bless and be filled again. We give and then we receive. In sharing out of the bounty of what we have received, we spread His love and purpose into the lives of those who are hungry and seeking.

In these verses we read a special blessing that the Lord instructed Moses to give Aaron and his sons to speak over the people of Israel. It is a blessing for God's protection, His mercy, His favor, and peace. Then the Lord tells Moses something that will let Aaron and his sons know that every time that they impart this blessing, they will also receive. “Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” Imparting the blessings of the faith with which God has blessed us, blesses us with greater faith. Those blessings of faith inspire us to not only to speak His truth, but to live His truth. Faith without works is dead. Faith that doesn't bless others has no life. Faith that is stagnant is never blessed.

In Deuteronomy 28:9-11a, we discover this message. “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you. The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.” (NLT). Our obedience to follow God's precepts and walk in His purpose is blessed by Him. We prosper in His love for us. Others will see that we are His and know that He loves us. God blesses us so that we can tell others about what He is able to do. And in that sharing of His blessing in word, action, and deed, they can feel it and one day hopefully know it.

We are blessed so that we can bless others. In that moment we discover this truth we are fulfilled. Our faith when shared with others not only empowers us, but imparts hope to those we bless. An obedient life is a never ending circle of blessed life. In becoming less, we become more.

Friday, November 6, 2015



“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2, NLT).

God desires to bless His people. If you read the rest of this chapter in Deuteronomy, you will discover that He desires to bless the work of our hands–keep us safe and secure–bless us with unending provision–bless us with victory over what comes against us, and reward us continuously. In verse 13 we read, “ If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom” (NLT). God wants to honor us with an humble authority. He wants us at the top...not at the bottom! How do we receive these blessings? By obeying His Word and applying His truth in every area of our lives.

God wishes us to live “intentionally”–not just haphazardly with no direction and purpose. He knows that without His guidance and our obedience we will perish. So often we are just this way! We live laid-back casual lives expecting God to bless and praying for God to bless. We see no result because we have made no effort. Obedience means sacrifice, and it means surrender. It costs our selfishness, and it costs our pride. But if we intentionally follow God's direction at all times and in all places, He promises that we will experience the gift of His blessings. He longs to bless our commitment to seek Him and follow His heart. His yearns to pour into our lives that which will prosper and keep us protected. He yearns to bless and keep us safe (Numbers 6:24). We discover His blessings when we learn that in becoming less, we can become more.

We must never regard our obedience as the means to receive His blessings! Our obedience is not a price to be paid in order to get something in return! Our intentional obedience comes from a surrendered heart that loves God. What He bestows in our lives is not something that He owes us. His blessings are always His gift. They are the expression of His love. If we faithfully and continually live obedient lives, our relationship with our Savior brings blessings–not from our efforts, but out of richness of His mercy and grace. He desires for each one of us to live an abundantly full and rich life (John 10:10). May we fully and completely surrender not in order to receive, but in order to give away and share those blessings... to share of His bounty and unending love for us (Deuteronomy 28:10). And that is a whole other lesson!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

His Word in Me

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrew 4:12, NLT).

Scripture has something to say about itself. What it reveals speaks clearly of its own worthiness. The Word of God is alive. It breathes powerful truth and life into my tired dry existence–into my heart that is crushed–into my mind upon which Satan etches lies–into my dry bones which ache for His breath of life. It slices through doubt and speaks faith. It exposes wrong attitudes and desires of my heart. It opens my heart and mind to listen to His instruction and obey His truth. It sets me free from my own analytical reasoning and self-analysis.

The Word of God instructs that I not only believe in what it says, but that I also trust its truthful message by applying it to every aspect of my life. Not only must my action be under its holy guidance, but, most importantly, my motive should be full of integrity. My heart should continuously be purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit so that I will humbly seek His will instead of seeking my own. I respect and honor the Word when I live it, and my heart is changed by its powerful message.

I can trust God's Word in every moment and issue of my life. It is timeless and unchanging, and just like Jesus Christ, His Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). I can believe its truthful direction for all the problems that I face, and for the decisions I make. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” ( Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV). His Word has a purpose. If I will study and open my heart to its truth, then the message of Hebrews 4:12 will flourish in my life.

Not only is the Word timeless; it is absolutely trustworthy. I can stand on what it says. I can believe in its promises. Its truth has been witnessed and shared by those who personally experienced the power of God. It is God's living Word. He breathed it into human writers with the breath of His Holy Spirit. As I study it and seek His truth, He also breathes His life and purpose into me. “Teach me your decrees, O Lord,” the Psalmist wrote. “I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found” (Psalm 119:33-35, NLT).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Shelter and My Refuge

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”  (Psalm 91, NLT)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Forgive with His Love

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

Do you hurt over something that you feel a friend has done to you? Perhaps it wasn't intentional, but you are convinced that it was. Whether intentional or not, you hurt because of it. Don't allow anger and bitterness to fester and grow. Don't harden your heart, and close the door to the Holy Spirit. Don't isolate yourself in your pain and feelings of rejection. If you close the door of your heart, it will only grow harder. If this person has been a friend for a long time, it is a good possibility that what has happened was not intentional, and your friend might not even be aware of what is going on. It is the enemy's purpose to divide the body of Christ‒to tear apart what the Holy Spirit is trying to build. The enemy wants to destroy your relationships and your life. Don't let him erect walls that imprison you. Fight isolation with the freedom the Holy Spirit empowers. Be free to ask why. Be free to seek answers. Be free from the bondage of isolation by reaching out in love and not in anger and bitterness.
When you ask your friend about what has hurt you, give them the benefit of the doubt. Let them know how you feel quietly. Don't accuse. If you put someone on the defensive, they will not listen to your concerns. Anger may rise up. But if you go in the love of Christ, and listen with an open heart, constructive healing can begin. Understanding can set both of you free. You may even discover another reason for what has happened‒one that you had not even considered. If you go in love, perhaps your friend, who may not have even realized what an action or a word did to you, will seek your forgiveness.
Above all else, forgive, even if the friend who has hurt you does not seek your forgiveness. Unforgiveness only keeps you in bondage to your emotional pain. Allow forgiveness to set you free. The Lord will remove your stony heart which has been hardened from pain and isolation, and will give you a heart that is pliable and soft in His hands. Where His Spirit flows, there is freedom. Allow Him to flow always and keep your heart spiritually soft. Live in the freedom and fullness of His Spirit so that you can forgive no matter what happens. God will bring continuous victory, and the enemy will be forever defeated. You will be like a well-watered garden in the dry places of life‒full of the life-giving power and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Call To Him

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

This verse is an incredible promise of God, but it is more than that. It 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. “Ask me,” He implores, “and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” (Jeremiah 33:3, NLT). “Unsearchable things” or “remarkable secrets”! Both imply things to come which are so great that you will be amazed and astounded at what He imparts. Some things you will receive and spiritually understand immediately because your spiritual growth has prepared you for their message. Others you may not understand immediately after He imparts them to you, but you believe because He is your God. You don't question. He only imparts truth. You believe them by faith, and you trust by faith. Because you love Him deeply and intimately as He has loved you, you have trust in that which He has revealed to you. There is peace in either understanding or not understanding. You know that He knows best so there is no struggle against His will. There is acceptance and rejoicing. His purpose is to give you a rich and satisfying life, so you receive completely and trustingly from His unending bounty (John 10:10).

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, that the unsearchable things He imparts, fall behind the joy of His intimate presence in your life. The “unsearchable things” and “remarkable secrets” can inspire you to greater heights, but but it is the intimacy of His moment-by-moment presence that is beyond anything else. Walk with Him. Seek Him. Call to Him and receive all He wishes to impart. Bask in the wonder of His presence and His unspeakable joy and peace.

God's Rest

  Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. —Hebrews 4:1   Today’s...