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Friday, January 29, 2016

When My Heart Beats for Him

Jesus once told his disciples the reason he spoke in parables. “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13, NIV). Then Jesus compared his disciples to the multitude with deaf ears. “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13: 16-17, NIV)

Do you also want to hear this spoken to you? The Holy Spirit seeks the whole earth for those whose heart totally belong to Him–for those who yearn to constantly grow spiritually. To such a person God gives His strength which empowers personal change. Those who constantly experience the renewing power of the Holy Spirit know the wonder of His grace over and over. They seek for God to reveal where they need to change, and then easily repent. They see, hear, and understand the Holy Spirit's urging and direction. When David’s sin with Bathsheba was brought to his attention by Nathan, David hit the ground in repentance. David experienced God’s immediate forgiveness because of his repentant heart. If his heart had been calloused, he never would have realized at what point the Holy Spirit had left him. But David repented, turned from his sin, and put on a new life.

You were taught,” Paul 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). We are created to be holy as God is holy (I Peter 1:15), but we cannot be like Him until our attitudes and desires are what He wishes. When we constantly open ourselves to His conviction and direction, we put off the old and put on the new. This is spiritual growth. To be made new in the way we think and act, we need a heart change. When our hearts and minds are constantly renewed, we have the ability to put off the old and put on the new. God is holy, and He looks for holiness of heart in each one of us. Holiness of heart is one day discovered as the result of daily surrender to His grace and decisions to live righteously. This yielded walk with Him continually draws us closer and closer to His heart. If we submit to the renewing change and conviction of the Holy Spirit now on earth, one day we will no longer seek to lead a holy life. We shall see Him face to face and will know Him fully as He has always known us. (I Corinthians 13:12).

Holiness comes as a result of a repentant and rejuvenated heart. It is not the result of living up to a legalistic-type rule. True repentance which inspires heart change comes from experiencing the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. A holy life is not measured in personal outward change as the Pharisees instructed. It is measured in the change of our heart. Spiritual growth calls for vulnerability to a Holy God and the transforming power of His Word. But His holiness does not “see, hear, and look” for the outward like Jesus' multitude with deaf ears. His holiness “sees, hears, and looks” with the spiritual heart of His life-altering presence.

Jesus makes this heart change personal! “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, NIV). 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 God’s change in my life at bay, I shall now 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). I shall put off the old and put on the new everyday because my heart beats for Him.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Heart and Mind Surrender

Have mercy on me, O God,” David cried, “because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins” Psalm 51:1, NLT).

Once more the pastor had shared the message of God’s sanctifying grace. Once more he had reminded his flock that heart change is an on-going process. Once more he had bared his heart and soul. He had relentlessly prayed that God's people would have a teachable spirit just as David had when faced with the sin of his own failure. But no one had come to the altar that morning.

Jesus once told his disciples why he spoke to others in parable. “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them’” (Matthew 13: 13-15, NIV). With closed eyes and ears, many that morning had never entertained the thought that their pastor’s convicting message was for them. Others had heard the message and were literally unwilling. Afraid of what others might think–disinclined to submit to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, they stood with hands gripping the chair in front of them, not even realizing that they had said “no” to the Spirit of God. They were not even aware that the attitude of their hearts had been dictated by human will instead of a Holy Spirit-altered heart and mind. If only they had heard and understood His call, with deep spiritual hunger they would have rushed into His presence to be filled with His living water. They would have discovered renewing and healing of heart and mind.

As a believer I am called to have an open spirit to what the Lord instructs. I do not have the option to ignore the transformation of the Spirit. “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 life should be an act of spiritual worship to the God who became a living sacrifice for me. Spirit and truth are inseparable. If I worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24), I offer a yielded and obedient heart to His instruction. Spiritual transformation is discovered in the renewing of my mind. A willingness to be renewed means that I am ready to admit I am not perfect–that I am ready to be molded. It means I yearn to spiritually see, hear, and understand His perfect will for my life. I no longer want to have a dull mind that only hears the parable and remains unchanged by its message. I have a heart that seeks revival and renewal. I have a mind that is ready to be transformed and restored by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Have mercy on me, Lord,” David cried, “because of your unfailing love!” May this be the cry of our heart as we seek Him for renewal of heart and mind. He will come and revive what is lukewarm in our hearts when we rush to His altar in complete surrender.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

He Will Come

Sunday morning our pastor preached “A Revival is Kindling”, and inspired us that a heaven-sent revival can be sparked by a just few believers seeking God's presence. Yesterday I wrote that my own heart must be continually on His altar and completely open to His fire and purpose for revival to begin in me. When a few heart-humbled believers come together seeking Him–seeking revival–crying out for their hearts to be changed, He answers.

When I was a little girl I was very close to my grandfather, Thomas Theodore (T.T.) Hardman. I knew him as Big Tom. He was a storyteller and a musician. I loved to hear his tales, and listen to him strum his guitar as he wrote hymns and songs. To this day I still remember his clear tenor voice singing his heart's message of his love for Jesus. One of the hymns that I remember him writing is “O, Lord, Send a Revival”. After I wrote the devotional yesterday, “Let It Begin in Me”, I thought of this hymn and finally found it in “Portals of Glory” published in 1955 by J.M. Henson Music Company in Atlanta.

When my spirit's so depressed,
And my heart is sore,
Longing for more righteousness
As in days of yore;
When my mind is in despair,
And I'm lost at sea,
O, Lord, send a revival,
And let it begin in me.

When I'm loaded down with care,
And have lost my way,
When my burden's hard to bear
Drifting everyday;
Give me courage to repent;
Let me turn to thee.
O, Lord, send a revival,
And let it begin in me.

When my work on earth is done,
And my soul shall flee
To the Father and the Son
In eternity;
May I hear these words, “well done”
While I make this plea,
O, Lord send a revival,
And let it begin in me.

“Won’t you revive us again,” the psalmist cried, “so your people can rejoice in you” (Psalm 85:6, NLT)? Revival begins in me, and spreads when I pray with others who also seek it. When we are broken enough, He will change our hearts. When our burdens are finally too heavy to carry and our situations too much to control, He will lift the burdens and direct our lives....if we ask. “You don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it,” James imparts (James 4:2b, NLT). If we cry out for righteousness–if our hearts seek Him–if we as His people humble ourselves and pray, He will come.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Let It Begin In Me

O, Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me” (Psalm 139:1, NLT).

He knows me. He knows everything about me. There is nothing He doesn't know about me. He knows whether my heart belongs to Him or if my heart belongs to me. He knows whether I seek Him or not. He knows if His grace has set me free or if sin stills imprisons me. Grace is not a thing He dispenses. Grace is His presence in my life–changing, molding, and continually reviving my heart and mind. Grace isn't a thing that stirs me. Grace is Jesus who transforms everything about me. The light of His presence reveals any sin that I have tried to hide from Him. How could I ever have thought he doesn't see what I believe was hidden? I can't hide my sin from Him. I can refuse or accept His grace. It is my decision. If I refuse His grace then I sink further into the sin which destroys me and hurts those that I love. If I accept His grace, I receive His love and forgiveness. When I repent His grace casts out the impure motive of heart which has fueled my sin, and I am free from its control. The grace of His presence is greater than any sin that tries to destroy me. I can seek Him again and again. His grace revives me again and again. When I allow Him to be the author of my life and write His love upon my heart, He renews, restores, and revives my life.

Revival always begins in my heart. It costs my obedience. It costs my willingness to lay down who I am for who He is. When I am sold out to Him, I finally understand how much He is sold out to me. I finally understand the price that grace cost Him. Then I yearn to be molded. Then I yearn to become a vessel worthy of His Spirit. Within my heart lies His potential to be a catalyst that inspires change. If I am a sold-out vessel, His grace within my heart spreads like a wildfire–burning and purifying and setting other hearts free to burn with His grace. Completely surrendered the fire burns within me, and where it spreads lies within His hands. I am called to have revival in my heart forever. It is not an option. It is a necessity. Revival is the grace of His presence that daily cleanses, restores, and molds me. Once begun, revival shall never end, unless I end it–unless I become hard and rigid and unchanged by His grace. Changed by His grace, the Holy Spirit flows from me into the lives of others who do not even know they are starved for His love. And He speaks to their hearts exactly what they need for such a time as this. Let it begin in me.

Friday, January 22, 2016

His Surpassing Wisdom

The wisdom from above,” James writes, “is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere” (James 3:17, NLT). The wisdom that God imparts is gentle, pure, and peaceable. It yields to others and does not insist on its own way. His wisdom is full of mercy because He is forgiving and merciful. His wisdom brings forth a wealth of good fruit in my life. His wisdom never creates something that is not true in order to make a “point”. It is honest and sincere.

I looked up Proverbs 10:18 in several translations. “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin” (NIV). “A wise heart takes orders; an empty head will come unglued” (MSG). “The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces” (NLT). If I don't want to be a “chattering or babbling fool” or have an “empty head” or “come to ruin” or be “unglued” or “fall flat on my face”, I will receive God's instruction gladly and allow Him to guide my life. Without His wisdom, I chatter with no purpose and I have no peace. If I babble to hear myself talk, I do not yield to hear what someone needs to impart. My interest is in me and not in someone else. My words have no power to impart hope and faith to another, because they are full of what I consider “my” wisdom instead of God's wisdom. I chatter on unaware of my own emptiness and shallowness. My words fall flat, and so do I. This is something that I continually work on in my own life.

More than anything I want what I say and how I live to make a difference in the life of someone else. To receive God's wisdom, I must yield to His instruction, and accept it gladly. His instruction brings out the best in my life. It results in the wealth of His fruit living in me–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Unlike a chattering tongue with no depth, His wisdom gives the ability to speak truth that makes a difference─that brings hope─ that instills peace─that offers greater faith──that gives a new perspective.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, NKJV). This kind of wise word makes a difference. A friend was speaking of an opportunity that God had extended, and how she believed God was opening doors. Suddenly she began to speak of her fear of failure. Another friend said to her, “do you really believe that God sets you up for failure?” These were wise words that offered a positive perspective. Neither does God set us up for failure. Daily seek His surpassing wisdom, and receive His instruction–and always pray for your words to be filled with His love and purpose. Words fitly spoken make a difference.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Now Found

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them’” (Genesis 6:5-7, NIV).

There have been times that I have wondered if God regretted making me–times when I knew that I had fallen short of who He had created me to be. Many times we don’t take responsibility for our own actions. In fact, we fault others without looking inside the motives of our own hearts. When God spoke regret in these verses, He had just had enough of the evilness that resided in the human heart. God looked at His rebellious and angry creation, and said He would wipe the human race from the face of the earth. But God saw something in Noah's heart that was worth saving. What does He see when He looks at my heart and at yours? Although deeply troubled with our sin, He sees that we are worth saving, too. That is why He gave His son so that we might live.

Just like God saved a remnant (Noah's family and the animals He had created) from the flood, God also rescues us from the waters of sin. Just as He made a covenant with the remnant He saved from the drowning flood, He makes a covenant with those He rescues now. “I now give you everything,” God said to Noah (Genesis 9:3b, NIV). God also says to us through the sacrifice of His son, “I have given who I am for you; I, who had no sin, became sin, so that you may be free” (paraphrase, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Today I look inside my own heart, and realize that He gave His life so that I might not have to battle the ugliness of my past–of its remembrances. Today I give Him any thought that is not of Him, and any feeling that would destroy the closeness of my walk throughout the day. I want to be part of those who believe and are saved.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the father tells the older son who has remained faithful, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31, NIV). God tells His child who remains faithful the same thing. But how wonderful to read what the father says to the older son about his younger brother who has been lost! “Celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:32, NIV). I have been lost and now I am found. Have you been found? Are you part of the remnant who believes and knows that God has given everything so can be free of the battles in your own heart? The promise of peace for your life is real, and it comes through Him. Just as a dove delivered a sign to Noah that the promise of life was genuine, the Holy Spirit comes to you, and brings His promise of new life. Reach for that promise, and let go of all the pain of the past and pain of the present that has claimed your heart. The drowning waters will disperse, and in His grace you will walk on new ground–reclaimed just for you by the love of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Just Clay in His Hands

I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the Lord gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand'” (Jeremiah 18:3-6, NLT).

To be molded by God means I am changed by the Holy Spirit into a vessel that is usable in His hands. He divides my desire from His as a diamond is perfectly cut; He chisels my purpose carefully and repeatedly as a stone is chiseled; He does all of this until my life is pliable as clay. This is not only His work in my life. It is also mine. I yield to what He wishes. I submit to His Word and His will. I let go of what is not right in my heart and in my life. I recognize any selfishness in my motives, actions, or thoughts, and seek God’s help to remove them. So I come to Him, and place myself on His wheel to be shaped into His perfect will.

His divine power has given me everything I need to grow spiritually and have a godly life. I gain this through knowledge of Him in His Word, and through surrender to His will. He has provided precious promises so that I might have more of Him, and less of my sinful self. For this very reason I shall make every effort to add to my faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. I shall strive to add these qualities, and allow Him to continually change my heart's attitude until it is perfected by His grace. I surrender to whatever He wishes to create in me. In my surrender to His power He is able to change how I think, feel, understand, decipher, trust, and love. If these qualities are increasing in my life, nothing will keep me from being effective and productive in living for Him (2 Peter 1:3-8).

This is a work in my heart and life that needs both His power and my surrender. It is a work that at first can be disheartening. As I surrender to His power and my eyes are open, I see so much more that needs to be done in me. But I determine to persevere and not let what still lies ahead bring discouragement. I will remember that it is His power that brings change. As I grow I learn courage by surrendering my fear; I learn patience by surrendering my control, and I learn perseverance by surrendering my struggle. He is with me, and as this cooperative work in my life is done–through my surrender and His power, His qualities increase. I am molded into a useful tool in His hands. I am formed into whatever He deems best.

Does it hurt to be just clay in His hands–to let go of who I am for who is? Yes it does! When I allow Him to mold me, the pressure He brings to bear hurts. There is no other way to say it. It hurts to give up selfishness and what I want. It hurts to let go of the control that I have selfishly determined was mine. But it is in letting go and letting Him mold me that I discover His joy and His purpose. I discover that what I thought was joy in my own life is nothing compared to the joy I find in His.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Miracle-Wonder Friendship

O my dear brother Jonathan, I’m crushed by your death. Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known— or ever hope to know” (1 Samuel 1:26, MSG).

David and Jonathan were bound by the deepest friendship. On report of Jonathan's death, David was crushed, but he said something in this verse that speaks of Jonathan's friendship being one that exceeded anything he had ever known. His friendship was a “miracle-wonder”. C. H Spurgeon once stated, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.” Do you know that a friend carries the load when you are unable to take one more step? I have a quote on a picture a friend printed off for me several years ago. “A friend is someone”, it reads, “who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” A friend also knows your heart and encourages your heart's miracle when you have given up hope.

Luke writes of a man who might have missed his healing without the determination of his friends to literally carry him. Four men bring their paralytic friend to a house where Jesus is, but can’t get through that mass of people. Determined, they climb to the roof of the house by an outside stairway. After removing roof tiles and prying up the mud and wattle, they lower the paralytic’s pallet through the opening. Jesus looks up, and observes the pallet being lowered. What does he see? He sees the faces of four men filled with stark hungering need for their friend’s healing. He also sees great faith revealed in their faces. Jesus looks at the paralytic and announces, “Friend, your sins are forgiven. Rise up, and pick up your mat. Go home” (Luke 5:16-24).

In Proverbs Solomon lists three strong values found in a good friend. He loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17); he is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); he never forsakes his friend (27:10). The story of the paralytic in Luke supports Solomon’s observations. The paralytic received constant love from his friends. He was closer than a brother, and his friends did not forsake him. They believed in his healing and did what they could to help him. Maybe the paralytic had given up all hope, and had asked him to just leave him alone. Perhaps he asked them not to cut a hole in the roof. Or maybe because he was unable to do anything for himself he was relying upon his friends. Whatever the case what can we understand about friendship from this example of the four friends’ commitment? No matter what your friend’s belief or lack of belief, you believe in the very best for him. You believe in his miracle when despair has claimed his heart. You go the distance for him.

True friendship never acts upon its own desire, but only upon the desire of the Holy Spirit. It listens to His guidance. True friendship never sacrifices the heart of a friend. If a friend shares his heart, he has trusted you enough to make himself vulnerable to what you think of him and to your assessment. 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. If you make a suggestion, you 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. You can believe in a promise for your friend, but you can never demand that he believe it. You can share what the Holy Spirit has shown you, but you can't coerce him to believe. That is not your place. Your place is to believe, encourage, and inspire. You will love him at all times, and never forsake him. You accept him with all his hangups and struggles just as you have been accepted with all of yours.

A David and Jonathan friendship knows the other friend's heart without asking. When a friend gets to the end of his faith and has lost all hope, you will know it. If the day comes when the Holy Spirit tells you to cut that hole in the roof for your friend, you will step out in faith and cut that hole in the roof. You will believe for the miracle Jesus has promised. You will know the time, and that the Lord is waiting to see your loving obedience for the sake of your friend. Trust the Savior who has lead you to the place of the roof, and step out in faith. Believe when your friend has forgotten the song in his heart. When your friend is relying on your faith, be a “miracle-wonder” friend. The Holy Spirit stands below your risk just waiting to meet the need.

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Passion for His Highest

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV).

What is His passion? I am His passion. God gave His highest for me–His very life and his very heart. There is nothing more He could have given. His passionate love bought my freedom from sin. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. He held nothing back. Jesus Christ loves me completely and passionately. His passionate grace was costly. It cost Him everything, and even though His grace cost me nothing, that amazing grace calls for my surrender and obedience.

Through the years I have wondered if I have loved Him as passionately as He has loved me. Have I burned with the forgiving fire of His grace? Have I burned with His unconditional love instead of my own selfish love filled with expectations I have placed on others? Have I made His desire for my life second to mine? Have I been stirred by the Holy Spirit, but never changed? Do I just want to “feel good”, and never allow the Holy Spirit to refine me? Have I allowed my failures, my problems, my attitude, and even memory of sins that were crucified with Christ hold me back? Yesterday as he finished the “p” in the word “leap” in his series, “Leap into 2016”, our pastor spoke of the passionate fire of Jesus Christ that should burn within me. The passion of the cross yearns for my passion in return. I am called to be sold out as He was sold out for me. Christ calls me to let go of all that has defined me–all that holds me back–all the excuses that mount, and surrender to His passionate grace.

In 1 Kings 19:21, Elisha, having been chosen by Elijah, walks away from all He has been. He destroys what is left in his life that might draw him back from his call. He accepts the cloak and purpose of His Master without hesitation. Jesus calls me to walk away from all that I have Him. He calls me let go of all that has defined my life, and give up that which will keep me from His purpose. He wishes my complete surrender without hesitation. With that surrender I am not only guided by His purpose for my life; I am “cloaked” under His ultimate passion at the cross. I am His passion, and with my total surrender, He becomes mine.

Have you surrendered to His passion for you? Acknowledge that God wants to use you. What are you doing with what God has given you? He uses flawed people. I know, because He uses me. Commit to serve Him. Surrender to His purpose for your life. Our pastor said “abandon yourself” to follow Jesus. I love the mental picture that gives. Just as Elisha there is nothing holding or calling you back. We want our faith to be easy. Surrendering to Christ is costly. Just as it cost Jesus His life, it will cost ours. But with that surrender comes the greatest fulfillment–the amazing knowledge that you were created for that very purpose.

Do you know what your passion is? I have a passion to help believers discover their potential in Jesus Christ. I yearn to not only write it, but to hopefully live it. I want to help others realize the Holy Spirit is their healer and power to overcome the pain of the past–their strength to overcome suffering in hard circumstances of life–and their promise for greater faith to believe in God's lasting victory. He has given each one of us spiritual gifts that we need to accomplish our passion, but it is our responsibility to invest our gifts in the lives of others. The gifts He has chosen for me and for you come from the very heart and purpose for His passion for us. In response we can either offer them to Him, powerfully fulfilled, or we can allow them to die on the vine.

“What more could have been done for my vineyard,” God asks in Isaiah 5:4, “than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?” What more could He have given, but that of His passionate sacrifice for me? He seeks good fruit in my life. What does He see? Am I a bad grape in His vineyard? I want to be good fruit. I want to receive all the gifts He has for me, and to invest each gift wisely and passionately in the lives of those He brings into my life.

Being a Christian is not a passive faith. It is a passionate faith. Jesus Christ saved us to serve, love, and burn with His passion. Surrender your life fully, and allow Him to use you in His kingdom. Our passion for Him honors the passion He gave for us. While we were yet sinners, He burned with love for us. Strike the match of your calling, and burn with passion for Him. Give as He has given for you. Give your highest for His.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Speak Soon

I discovered a treasure about my Mama a few years ago. After her death I ended up with her workbook from a discipleship class she had attended in 1992. It was incredible to read in her own handwriting about her faith and love for God. It was also incredible to discover something else–a little remark written in the margin of a page. It was something I had never known she thought about me, and reading it in her own handwriting brought me such joy. It was as if she was speaking right to me.

How many times do we hesitate sharing our feelings with those we care about? What makes us hesitate? Are we afraid we will be judged? Are we afraid that we will not live up to their expectations? Are we concerned our words will hurt them? Are we even afraid they will not care about our thoughts? Our human mind creates all kinds of scenarios, but in the very end, those scenarios mean very little. What matters is telling those we love how we feel, and just allow God to take care of what must needs to be taken care of.

When Mama praised me, it was special. What I read that day in her workbook, I would have loved to have known while she was living. If I had known she felt about me in that way, we could have shared a closeness in our relationship that I had never known. Who knows what the last twenty-four years would have brought if I had known this about her? There are also many things I would love to tell her now, but I can't. Even though she was here for a lifetime, that lifetime became too short.

“People are like the grass,” Isaiah wrote. “Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6b-8, NLT). Life is but a vapor in God's cosmos of time. Take every opportunity to tell those in your life how much you love them. Speak soon. The opportunities will not always be there. The only thing that lasts is God's incredible love, and His Word which endures forever. Mama's words in the margin of that page will also endure until the time I will see her again.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

You Are My Instrument

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

Because you belong to me,” the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart, “I know you intimately. You are my instrument, and I long to make powerful music in your life. I long to play the music of my love through you. Your music is not my music. Your music rises from self, but my music rises from the love of my sacrifice. It is complete, and never fails. It is honest, and never fabricates. It is pure and never clouded with earthy judgment. I make harmony of which you make such discord. My music played in your life sounds hope in the ears of those you alone have no power to impact for me.

Through your life I have the power to reach those you have failed‒ones you have misjudged and ones of whom you have thought less. Your self judges, and because of that you have no power to make a difference. You have placed yourself in the way of what I am able to do. Yield your life to me, and allow me to bring harmony to its purpose. My music will flow, rich and free, through you into others. Don't allow the discordant failures of your life to hold you back. Because you desire all of me now, and because you know me as your Lord, your failures are now mine to take. They are no longer yours. It is my purpose to bear them, and to make all things new.

Even during the darkest of days, David allowed His music to be my music. You, just like my servant, David, are also my instrument. Never allow hard circumstance to keep you from playing the music I have placed within your heart. Through your life, I will make music that speaks to the souls of men and bids them come to me. Never forget that you are mine, and that any attempt to make music without my help will always fail. Only I can play on the strings of your life. Only I can bring out the beautiful promises that sing my praise.

'My heart, O God, is steadfast,' my servant, David, proclaimed. 'I will sing and make music. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 57:7, Psalm 104:33, NIV). You are my instrument, my child, and I am the conductor of your life. All I desire is your surrender. Open your heart to my music, and allow me to play upon your heart strings. Sing to me always. Through you I will write my very best, and bring forth a glorious symphony. Just allow me.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Joyful Praise

The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b, NIV).

“I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!” Do you remember the words to the song? Joy was exquisite when you first gave your heart to Jesus, and praise just flowed from your heart! Is your joy just as real now? Do you still praise the Lord in personal worship or have the trials of life tarnished its luster? The Lord desires your praise. King David understood this when he wrote, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music. Make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn–shout for joy before the Lord, the King” (Psalm 98:4-6, NIV)!

No matter what his circumstance David realized his strength came from trust in the Lord’s provision. David knew how to release his attempt at any control. The very thought of the Lord’s faithfulness erupted from him in joyful praise! “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:7. NLT). David understood that strength and joy were reciprocal. “Through Jesus, therefore,” the writer to the Hebrews imparted, “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrew 13:15, NIV). David understood that he needed to relinquish more than control of his own heart. He understood that in praising God no matter what his circumstance he would be strengthened with the joy of the Lord's power and provision. “I will declare your name to my people,” David declared. “In the assembly I will praise you. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you, I will fulfill my vows” (Psalm 22:22,25, NIV). David knew that praise was his vow.

Centuries following David’s reign, Ezra, the priest, stood before what had once been an exiled and abandoned nation, but now a people who had been restored. He read the sacred law. “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6, NIV). Each Hebrew then wept because of God’s redeeming love in spite of their sin! They had been saved from Babylon and destruction. “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘this day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord’” (Nehemiah 8:9a, 10a, NIV).

When we are forgiven, we are not meant to mourn over past sins. We are not meant to mourn over circumstances or troubles in life. He has restored us! “Consider it pure joy, my brothers,” James wrote, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV). Trials are meant to produce the purest spiritual joy. Not diminish it. Strength grows from perseverance. Spiritual joy carries you through times of deepest despair and brings God’s strength to a troubled heart. Each day is a new day in Christ. Get up from your weeping and praise Jesus for saving you and taking care of you. Nehemiah reiterated what David had known to be true with the words, “‘Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” (Nehemiah 8:10b). Without joy we have no strength, and without God’s strength we have no joy.

“O for a thousand tongues to sing,” Charles Wesley wrote,” my great redeemer’s praise! The glories of my God and King! The triumphs of His grace!” Give thanks to God for handling your problems, and never take the burden back for Him. Spiritual joy will blossom through faith, and His strength shall sustain you. The fire of the Holy Spirit will draw your praise! Yield yourself to His leading! When you have truly experienced your great redeemer’s love, and have known the glories of your God and King, and have savored His victories, praise will be more that a result. It will be your highest act of worship.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Prayer Today

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people” (Isaiah 58:6, NLT).

Dear Lord Jesus,

I never really lived before I knew you. I can remember not loving you, and the pain is so great. The thought that I once rejected you–that my everyday actions and heart continually drove nails into your forgiving hands, brings such anguish. Thank you for forgiving me for those years. I praise you for washing my life clean, and that you remember my sins no more. Don’t ever let me forget from where you have brought me, but don’t ever let the memory of that time pull me down. The emotional baggage is gone. The spiritual and physical separation is gone. In Your precious name, I have found healing.

Lord, Jesus, help me always to seek your perfect wholeness of body, mind and spirit. Teach me your precepts so that I might walk in your perfect plan–following the steps that you carefully lay before me. Open my eyes to the reason that I walk in them. Open my mind to understand the depth of my commitment. Open my ears to hear your still soft voice. I long for my eyes, ears, and mind to be blessed by your wisdom and understanding. I yearn for the humility of heart and soul that brings you joyful pleasure. I am starved for your presence. Come in this moment and hold me safely in the security of your heart.

Heal all relationships in my life that need healing. Teach me that the healing in a relationship starts within a person that can be molded by the Holy Spirit. That should be me, Lord. I can’t change another person's heart, but I can forgive the one who has hurt me, Lord. I can pray for words to say that brings healing to a broken and hurting life. You can show me that one thing that will pull down the strongholds in a life–that one thing that can start your healing. Reveal to me my own strongholds so that I may not judge another person for theirs.
Some people are so hurt by those they love! They have been injured by painful actions or unnecessary words. Lord, Jesus, it is how I react to those injuries that will either bring healing or more heartache. It is how I pray–it is how I listen to your direction–it is about my will being open to your precious leading–that speaks life instead of death. You wish life for all! You wish salvation for all your creation. How I respond to injury and pain caused by others, speaks what I really have inside my own heart.

Lord Jesus, for anyone who suffers from pain caused by someone's words or actions, I ask that they choose to forgive. Flood their hearts with your love, and the freedom that comes with forgiveness. For those who have hurt others, and asked forgiveness, and have not been able to mend those relationships, I ask for your love to be greater that the pain of their rejection. Lord, there is healing in you alone.

Lord, I pray restoration in all our relationships, and that we would offer you a fast of our own needs. Then emotional prison walls that have not only bound our hearts, but also bound the hearts of others, shall crumble. Oppression will end, and we will be free to love. It is then and only then, you can be the restorer of broken lives. It is only when we come in true sacrificial fasting of heart, and actions that speak your love, that we can receive healing, and be used to bring healing (Isaiah 58:6-12).

Lord, I am on your altar this morning asking you to always take any injury or pain–giving you any bitterness that might try to take root–giving you any rejection that I might feel– giving you the wall that my human heart continually tries to erect. These are all gone in your healing presence. I am open and free to walk in your spirit. I am free to be all you have called me to be. Where you spirit is, there is freedom.

I see healing. I see victory! I know and really understand the power of your sacrifice and your resurrection. Only in you is life, and that life is the light of men. I pray the power of your Word and your love create light within my heart–a light that draws those wounded to you. Today, I commit my heart to loving those who hearts are held in bondage. Today, I claim freedom for them. Today, I believe in your miracles. I trust you to do a work in me and through me. But I must make the decision, and I must be the catalyst.

Praise you, Lord Jesus, for your power and love that imparts healing. Lead me through this day and use me to bring life to someone else. Lay out surely and clearly the road I must travel. And help me to always remember that even though helping another is not easy, it is my life.


Monday, January 11, 2016

It's All About Attitude

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5, NLT).

Into his third Sunday on the message “Leap into 2016”, our pastor yesterday looked at what the “A” in “Leap” represents. We had already been encouraged to “live uncertain” and walk by faith. We had been encouraged to “evangelize” and share our faith. He hit the nail on the head with the message that “A” is all about “attitude” and thinking right. Our attitude determines our life's message. As John Maxwell so aptly states, “your attitude determines your altitude.”

In Philippians 2:1-11, we learn about the “selfless” attitude of Jesus Christ. Though he had every right to “think highly” of himself–though He could have placed His own life above our need, Jesus humbled himself and following the will of His Father, gave His life for you and me. He chose to humble himself and follow His Father's plan. He thought less of himself and more of us. Our need was greater than His. He chose us. In verse 5 we are reminded that we are, also, to have this same attitude. When we accept Him as Savior, we choose Him. In choosing Him as Savior we should also choose to have the same kind of selfless attitude–one that places another person's need before our own. When we choose His selfless attitude, we reveal that we are secure in our identity in Him–just as He was secure in who He was in His Father's purpose. When we choose His attitude we become submissive as He was self-sacrificing without the need for personal acclaim. When we choose His attitude we give up any “right” to our own agenda and need to be recognized. We become less so He can become more. In dying to self we learn to live for others unburdened by our own needs. We are alive in His will for our lives.

Your attitude is a choice. You choose how you think. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” the proverb reveals (Proverbs 27:3, NASB). How you think determines how you feel. You can have a positive attitude that gives you an optimistic look on life or you can have a negative attitude that continually keeps you buried under a pile of emotional rubble. When something positive happens to a negative person, they find what is negative in it. When something negative happens to a positive person, they find something positive in it. If you want to live a joyful and abundant lifeone that spills over with spontaneous faith–one that sees the possibilities instead of the problems, you must work to have a positive attitude.

A bad attitude will not only destroy your witness, but the work you have done for God. It can be so deeply ingrained that it is hard to let it go. It can be generational and passed down through your family. It can come from your experience or your environment. But for whatever reason you have a bad attitude, that attitude can change when you choose again and again for it to change. If you are a new person in Christ, then you are new. The old has passed away. You choose a good attitude, and God empowers your choice. He breaks the negative which has been ingrained. He breaks generational darkness which has claimed your mind. He breaks the influence of experience and environment. You choose, and God transforms your mind and your attitude.

Choose to handle life's problems and circumstances with a positive attitude. Determine to think positively and react differently to what happens in life. Live in a mature way that exhibits the fruit of the Spiritlove, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The only way that you can have the fruit of the Spirit alive in your life is to allow your selfishness to be crucified with Christ. When you make this selfless journey–when you accept responsibility for your life–when you realize that without Him you cannot realize the heart change that brings attitude change, then you have chosen to seek the attitude of Christ. “Attitude is never content until it is expressed,” our pastor concluded. So live a positive attitude. Be empowered by the Holy Spirit to act upon what you have determined will be true about your life. He will not disappoint you.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Believe Him

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18 NIV).
Something new happened last night at 6:02-a precious gift of God took her first breath. Her name is Kinsley. She is my great-granddaughter, and she is beautiful. Her little life is fresh and without any of life's baggage to carry with her. Nothing in her past because she has no past in this world. Nothing to weigh her little heart down. Her life is a clean slate upon which each day's experience will impart its message. With parents and family to love and nurture, she has the hope that the message will be one of great promise.

Many do not realize that they also have the hope of a new slate–a new beginning. To truly forget the former things, and not dwell on the past, we can't just "believe in" Jesus Christ, we must "believe Him". To be free from worries that control our lives, we must believe He is who He says He is. We must believe that He will do what He says. We must believe that we can forget the former things, and they will not control our lives. I am free in Him. You are free in Him, but we must “believe Him”not just “believe in” Him.

When you first know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you believe in Him. To believe Him and what He promises, you grow in His Word and in His grace. If you are not growing in your Christian life through prayer, bible study and worship, you will not be able to believe Him. If you are daily growing in Him, you have the power to choose to believe Him. Forgetting the former things that have controlled your life is a choice. You choose to believe Him, and you receive His strength for your weakness. You choose to trust in what He says in His Word, and He honors that choice with faith.

Just as He gives us the freedom to accept or reject Him as Savior, He gives us the freedom to choose to believe Him or not. He doesn't make us believe Him, but it is His greatest desire for us to grow in His truth and to believe Him. If we believe in Him as Savior and are seeking Him each day, we have the power to believe Him as Lord. If I submit all that I struggle with to Him, He will become Lord of it. I don't have to try to control or decide anything. If you and I will choose to believe Him, and let Him take care of what tortures our minds, we will discover that the former things can be forgotten.

When we believe what He says in His Word is true, newness springs up; the old is no more, and we can perceive His truth instead of the lies of our past or circumstance of which the enemy is so quick to remind us. Believing Him brings the greatest promise! It is a promise that no matter what we face He is our strength, and He brings life-giving streams of hope and promise to the barren deserts of our lives. Choose what He promises! “I am making a way in the wilderness,” He proclaims, “and streams in the wasteland. I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:19b, 20b, 21, NIV).

New life and new beginnings. No more baggage to weigh down your heart. With new life in Him, you, also can have a clean slate ready for hope and promise. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Becoming More Like Him

“For if you possess these qualities [goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love] in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, [2 Peter 1:5-7], NIV).

What is virtue? Webster defines it as conformity to a standard of right, a beneficial quality or power of a thing, strength or courage, or a commendable quality or trait.” When we conform to Christ's standard we become more like Him. In 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter presents a of list of character traits (virtues), and instructs us to apply these in our lives to become mature believers. The foundation on which we add these character traits is our faith in Christ. We make the decision to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. He brings the power to accomplish our decision. Without His foundation of faith in our lives, we can strive until we are exhausted to add these virtues, and never see positive growth. It is His power that makes the difference. Virtue is not only the result of belonging to Christ. It is the result of becoming more like Him in character and holiness.

When we accept Christ into our hearts by faith, we belong to Him. This is Christ's work of grace that sets us free, and gives us a new life in Him. His virtue has been birthed within us, and the power to become a believer who is spiritually mature is also ours. It is this surrender by faith to Him that begins the incredible journey to become all He desires for us. This journey of life in Christ is filled with trials, problems, and suffering which either speak defeat to a believer or build greater faith in God. As we make the decision to add these character traits in our lives, God's brings His power to help accomplish what might seem impossible. This life's journey which began by belonging to Him “grows us” to become more virtuous like Him. We become “conformed to His standard”. Living for Him becomes easier with each step because He has given us His strength to accomplish it.

Peter ends his list of character traits with 2 Peter 1:8. “For if you possess these qualities IN INCREASING MEASURE,” he writes, “they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8, NIV). Belong to Him! Become all that He calls you to be! With increasing measure, continue to “become” more like Him for the rest of your life. Allow the things you face in life to make you better instead of bitter. “When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-3, NLT). Persevere, and keep trying. He will never disappoint you. He will never fail you. You will lack nothing. Your life will make a difference. Greater faith and a virtuous life will be your reward.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Renewing Sleep

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

In the night time hours, my child, I watch you sleep. I am with you. Your mind is finally at peace from the struggle of your conscious moments. It has given up its fight to remember and process all the events of your day. There is no fear or worry or terror of the things you have finally allowed me to take from you. Some nights your sleep is troubled, and you can't release your worries to me completely. You toss and turn, and even have dreams that consume your heart and mind. But tonight you found peace in letting go of any attempt to analyze and control. You finally gave me all your worries and concerns, and allowed me to handle what you were never created to handle. You finally released all the struggle to figure out the seasons of your life, and allowed my peace to claim your heart. You no longer had to worry or be fearful. You received my perfect love which cast out all your fear (1 John 4:18). When you finally closed your eyes in sleep, my peaceful presence guarded you.

Waking or sleeping, I watch over you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11), but you do not know it or reap the peaceful reward of my control until you surrender. I grant sleep to those I love–not a fretful and anguished sleep, but sleep that refreshes and renews for the next day's struggles, events, and even joys (Psalm 127:2). In your conscious moments, keep giving me your fears. Keep giving me your worries. Keep releasing all that consumes your mind and heart. I will take over. You may not realize it at first, but keep choosing to release all to me, and my peace will eventually claim all of your mind (Philippians 4:6-7). When you fall asleep at night, your sleep will be one of release and refreshing in me.

Let me–not any worry–be your last thought before sleeping. Keep your mind focused upon me as you close your eyes to rest (Isaiah 26:3). Give me your tired life. Give me your worries and your analyzing mind, and I will grant you the rest and peace that you need. Surrender control. I am your life, and I have designed your life for my best. Allow me to have all of you so you can receive all of me (Philippians 4:6-7).

Praise me. I am faithful. I will not leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:15). I am with you. Be not afraid. I have overcome your world (John 16:33). I am your world. When you lay down all your struggles of the day, I am your sleep and your renewing peace. You have me. Sleep, my child, in the peace, that I have prepared for you, and awake tomorrow with my joy to live your day. When you are surrendered and at rest, I will impart my promises to you–just as I imparted promises to Jacob at Bethel. And you, like Jacob, will awake and proclaim, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it” (Genesis 28:16b, NLT). Renewing sleep is my gift, and in that rest you will receive something just as wonderful as Jacob received at Bethel. It is my never-ending promise that whispers through the memories of blessed rest, “I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go” (Genesis 28:15a, NLT). Awake refreshed to know that each day is the first day of the rest of your life, and you can do all things with the strength I bestow (Philippians 4:13).

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Growing in Faith

I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b, NIV).

I believe, Lord, but help me overcome what I have trouble believing you can handle. Help me to believe you will take care of everything. Help me to trust you more!” This is the cry of the heart of every believer. It reveals areas where faith is lacking, but it also reveals how faith has grown. “I believe” reveals my faith at this point in my life. “Help me overcome my unbelief” reveals my hunger for greater faith to believe even more. Think about it. As I grow closer to Him, I know Him more, and understand what His power means in my life. But at the same time I am more conscious that I fall short of complete trust in Him. This is the soul's growth. There is increased ability to believe, and then comes an obstacle that brings a need and a yearning plea for greater faith. This plea is a cry to let go of everything that hinders my ability to believe, and have complete trust in Him that He will overcome that obstacle.

When my heart cries out for Him to help my unbelief, He hears my cry, and answers my prayer with more faith. He also reveals where I still fall short in trusting Him. With that awareness and my surrender, He imparts the power to walk the path that leads, step by step, upwards and closer to Him. It is a journey where one moment I believe absolutely in Him, and then in the next moment I am faced with another obstacle to my faith. That obstacle spurs me onward again with a cry for more faith, and inspires me to surrender what I cannot overcome. He answers the cry of my heart and responds to my surrender once more with greater faith.

A life of faith moves upward one step at a timeover each obstacle and each barrier. When facing each obstacle I continually surrender each problem with faith that He will take care of it. Each day I press on to discover His prize in the midst of each storm. His prize is the peace that passes all understanding. His prize is His power for each additional obstacle to come. His prize is His presence that never leaves or forsakes me. In this journey of life I find that my surrender of each obstacle to Him conquers my unbelief, and He rewards me with greater faith to believe He will not fail me.

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” the writer to the Hebrews imparts, “ fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2b-3a, NLT). Let's not give up. Let's keep our eyes on the Savior who can make our faith stronger. He meets us in each moment that we need to believe for His best. He meets each need as we surrender to His faithful care. In this race of life He helps us overcome each obstacle with greater faith. One day we will understand that this race to the finish has been worth all the obstacles that have spurred us on. We will know completely His unchanging faithfulness, and bask in His presence. We will believe.
-Lynn Lacher (Lynn's Daily Devotional)
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Monday, January 4, 2016

Sharing Our Faith

You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36, NLT).

Leap into 2016. It is your year of personal faith” continued our pastor yesterday. Last week we looked at the “L” in “leap” representing the fact that we we are to “live uncertain” and walk by faith. This is not a haphazard walk, but one that is determined to trust in Him. This morning we look at the “E”. Our pastor stated that this letter represents “evangelism”, and that we are called to share our faith with those that need Jesus as their Savior.

We are all sinners, and not one of us can forgive ourselves. Not one of us is perfect, and will never be. We all need the grace of Jesus Christ to reach into the darkness of our hurting hearts and set us free from sin's terror and destruction. Those who have accepted Him as Lord of their lives, and allowed Him to set them free have a love and a message to share with those who haven't. It is one of unconditional love and grace, and that gospel message offered with compassion and purpose has the power to change another person's life. This is evangelism. It is love. It is compassion. It is grace, and it is treating everyone with the truth that they are special to Jesus Christ. He died not only for us, but for the next person. His love flows continually through this world of despair and heartache if we are willing to share the love that has set us free.

Jesus' compassion for the world took Him to the cross. He loved us so much He gave His life for us. We must be compassionate because Jesus was compassionate. There is no greater compassionate grace than that someone gives His life for another. When we disregard the love of that costly grace, we make that grace cheap. We make what was given freely out of unconditional love cheap and meaningless. When we don't share what He has done for us, we treat His love as if it has little meaning in our lives. What we really love is where our heart really is. If our hearts are really His, we will share His heart with others needing His grace and forgiveness. Yes, compassion will make us do something for others. It will make us share His love which has changed our own hearts.

If we love with His compassion and make the effort to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will realize something that is so true. Love and caring attracts those who are hurting. His love flowing through us draws others to Him. If we pray for those He sends into our lives, we learn to treat them no differently from anyone else. Jesus didn't treat them any differently. We don't judge them. We don't ever manipulate, because manipulation focuses on what we want instead of what Jesus has to offer. We live our faith honestly and motivate others to consider His grace which has set us free to love and care and have compassion. When we live His love and offer it clearly with compassion and grace, another person can experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ setting his own heart free.

Make an effort to share the gift of grace that Jesus has brought into your heart. Look for opportunities to share your faith, and allow the compassion which claimed your heart to flow into a hurting soul. Be persistent with His love. He persisted for you. Be diligent to seek His heart and His guidance to share with another. He was diligent in His pursuit of you. “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,” Isaiah wrote, “I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7, NLT). Be determined to love with His love. Be determined to share what He has done in your own heart so another may experience His love that saves and also sets him free to love. What you hide cannot be real. It cannot be your life message if you don't live it. If you share His love, you will not walk in shame. When you offer His love that was freely given for you to another, His grace flows and His power moves in ways you can never even imagine. 

Ask Him

  Are there times you question God’s willingness to take care of you and meet your needs?  Do you feel unworthy of His blessings? Your Fathe...