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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Choose to Abide in Him

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4, KJV). “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4, NIV).

Abide. Remain. Whichever word we use, they say the same thing. We are to abide and remain in God's presence. It is in His presence where we are transformed and where we find the sustenance which brings an abundant harvest in our lives. David Wilkerson in his book “Secrets of the Vine” shares about abiding in God’s presence. “Abiding is an act of faith―a radical expression that you value God's unrestricted presence in your life more than any immediate sensation. If you think you must always have strong feelings to know that you have been with God, you will go away from your devoted times disappointed. Before long you will say that 'Abiding did not work for me.'” 

Did you catch what David Wilkerson reveals in this quote, and the depths that revelation imparts? Abiding in Jesus Christ is an act of faith and also an act of will. If you want more of God in your life, you choose “by faith” to believe He will honor the time that you devote to Him. When you make Him your first priority, abiding in Him becomes an act of willing surrender. You might also notice that David Wilkerson uses the word “devoted” times instead of “devotional” times. He does this to emphasize the fact that your time with God is one that should be “set apart” just for Him—devoted only to Him. Your time with God is not just a time to be stirred by a devotional, but a time completely devoted to Him—a time that changes you.  Abiding in God's presence is also not based on feelings. My time with God is the close intimate sharing of a deep personal relationship, and not the tingling sensation of a feeling. Sometimes there will a feeling of joyful wonder in the Holy Spirit, but sometimes not. In your “devoted times” abiding with the Holy Spirit transforms and prunes your life to bring a greater harvest. You will eventually reach a place where abiding in Jesus becomes more than just being with Him during a “devoted time”. Your hunger will increase beyond bounds, and you shall discover the truth of what the psalmist wrote. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, ESV).

If you remain in Him, He will remain in you. If you want to live an abundant life for Him, you need to repent and turn from any thing that stands in the way of your relationship with Him. If your life is filled with selfish things that keep you from discovering your potential in Him, you need to be pruned and your priorities set straight so that He can bring forth abundance in your life. In the times of discipline and pruning, He acts. In the time of abiding, you act. When you choose to abide in Him, He abides in you and transform your life. Your relationship with Him has the promise of bringing the greatest joy and assurance that nothing can touch or destroy. Abiding and walking in His Spirit can be your way of life—if you choose to abide in Him.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Recognize Your Purpose

Recognize Your Purpose

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God” (Hebrews 12:2, MSG).

Look to me. I want you to recognize your purpose. Don't look at your circumstance or failure. Allow me to change the things in your life that are tearing you apart. Allow me to change you. You know your imperfections and failures well. The enemy has reminded you of what you have been forgiven for again and again. You are troubled. I am your rest. You are impatient. I am your patience. You have no peace. I am your peace. I know your heart, and I know you love me. I know you yearn to be stronger in faith. Here I amthe author of your faith. I will also be the finisher of it. Allow me.

Be still and learn of me. Quit struggling. Focus your mind on me. I am your life and your purpose. I am your healer. I began this work in you. I will keep you in peace when your mind rests in me. You will grow stronger, and on your journey, you will grow more like me. If you stay focused on meif you rest in meif you grow in meif you seek me continuallyif you serve me obediently, I will give you powerful faith to believe for great things in my name. You need encounters with me every day, and each moment with me will help you recognize your purpose. My great compassion is new every morning, and never fails. I am faithful. You are my purpose, and loving me is yours. When I am Lord of your life and you love me with all your heart, soul, and mind, all things are possible.

Continually abide in me, and never lose sight of me. I cheer you on and wait for you at the end of your race. If you keep your eyes on your goal—on me, you are never limited by your own limitations. If you remain in me, you become more than your own limitations. You become all that I have decided you to be. You have found in your weakness that I am your strength. You have discovered that in your strength, I am your joy. You have discovered my peace that your mind can't comprehend. When I am your purpose, and your love is completely mine, you are at rest in me. Keep your eyes on me, and allow me to direct the moments of your life, you will be able to handle anything that comes your way. The prize at the end of your journey shall have been worth your obedience. You shall see me face and face, and shall know me as I have always known you.

 -Lynn Lacher
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Monday, March 28, 2016

Realize Your Potential

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24, NIV).

Though I may stumble, I will not fall. I will not fail. When the Lord upholds me, I will succeed in what I attempt for Him. It is incredible and wonderful to know that when I delight in the Lord—when I praise Him—when I am surrendered to His will, He makes each step I take firm and sure. I may doubt myself, but He does not doubt what He has created me to be. He continually encourages me. He yearns for me to realize my potential.

What about you? If you know Him, you also have the greatest encourager cheering for you. He longs to have a deeply intimate relationship with you—one where your times with Him are not only precious but fresh and new each day. Such an encounter with Jesus Christ can enable you to see your potential. It can pick you up from where you have failed, and bring hope. If you have failed, don't hide from your failure. Face it, and honestly evaluate why you failed. If it is from sin, repent, and let Christ forgive you. Move on in His forgiveness, and learn from the failure. Don't allow that failure to define who you are. If the failure is the result of circumstances beyond your control, then it is not yours. Don't carry a burden you were never meant to carry. Whatever you face, Christ encourages you to learn from it, and grow closer to Him as a result of it.

Never forget that Jesus Christ convicts. Satan condemns. There is hope in conviction. There is no hope in condemnation. There is always encouragement in conviction; there is the promise that if you turn from what is wrong, then God has something that is perfect for your life.  If you are willing to respond to that conviction with repentance, your promise is secured. Your encourager has encouraged you to become something greater than you ever imagined.

Whatever claims your attention and your time claims your heart. Does your life reveal this kind of love for Him?  Is He your greatest priority? If you really love Him, you will surrender all of your desires—your ambitions—your dreams—your mistakes—your failures—your worries—your inadequacies—all of you to His perfect care and direction. As you yield to Him each day, you will realize more and more that without His focus in your life, you become a double-minded person with no strength and purpose. He gives meaning to your life, and to mine.

Always look to Jesus Christ, the author and the finisher of your faith. He will encourage you through all you face in life. He will never fail you. He will never desert you. He will lead you to be the greatest that He has designed. Your potential shall become His promise. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

Friday, March 25, 2016

Resurrected by Your Love

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

Sunday is Easter, and I am reminded that I am free because of your sacrifice for me. I wait in anticipation of its celebration once more! On this glorious day I shall again celebrate your Resurrection from death so that I might walk in newness of life. Today is Good Friday, and it is the day you take my sins to the cross, and everything that is sinful in me is crucified and buried with you so I might be raised into new life with you. I celebrate the moment you personally came into my heart and made me your own.

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

The emptiness of my past life is buried and gone. The glorious “new” has begun, and greater things are still to come. You have saved me from all I have been so that I might become the best for which you have created me. I am resurrected by your love.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

God Becomes Personal

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).

It was at Easter God became personal for you and for me. In the person of His son, Jesus Christ, God became human when He was born into this world, but it was at Calvary He became intensely personal. You can’t get much more personal than when you die for someone else. When He gave His life on Calvary, He took sin that separated us from God, and defeated it once and for all. In His death and Resurrection He conquered hell and the grave. When we accept Him into our heart, we have the assurance of abundant life now, and eternal life forever. When our soul belongs to Him, the wounds He suffered on Calvary bring healing of body, mind, and spirit. God who created you and me, with no restraint and no hesitation, laid down His life and became a living sacrifice so we might have peace with Him and peace within our own heart.

There is a difference between God becoming personal and us experiencing it. The gift of His life at Calvary is what offers us a personal God, but it is our “yes” in absolute surrender that gives us a personal relationship with Him. It is the only thing really makes God personal. He, who knew no sin, became sin in order that each person could be set free from sin's control. God laid on Jesus Christ all of our sins, and He took them to the cross for you and for me. He absolutely surrendered himself for mankind. He gave His life and bore our sins so we might be healed and made whole. He surrendered his life for us. Such love calls for a response from you and me. We can't ignore such a sacrifice. We either accept it or reject it. If we accept it and surrender to Him, we discover the incredible depth and power of His love that gave all for us. If we reject it, we lose the greatest love ever offered.

What is your response? What is mine?  Do we allow Him just a little of ourselves, and reserve our total commitment?  We want to approach Him. We want to come boldly before Him in our time of need, but we don’t want to obediently give Him our own surrender and sacrifice. Perhaps we want to hold on to a gift or even a calling, but He asks us to lay everything down for His sake—just as He laid all down for ours. Sometimes we must lose the gift or the calling or whatever is important to us to understand that those things are not what really matter. He is what really matters.  He is what is important. His love is all that matters.

No one demonstrates a greater love than when he gives his life for another. If we reject the offering of His love and say “no”, we lose everything. But if we say “yes” and lay down all that we have and all that we are, and place Him above everything else, we discover a personal God beyond human imagination. When we surrender to the omnipotent God who created us and gave His life so that we might be free, we respond to His sacrifice with an obedient heart and life. He becomes more than personal to us. He becomes life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Obedience or Sacrifice

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3, NIV).

Doing what is right is being obedient to God. Obedience means that I have submissive respect and love for Him. Obedience flows from a yielded heart which has responded to His love. It is not given out of duty, but out of surrender with no strings attached. My sacrifice though, can have strings attached. I might sacrifice something out of a sense of obligation or with the thought that I should get something in return. This kind of sacrifice is actually an attempt to show God I am in control—not to submit to Him. If I sacrifice something in my life for Him with the mindset He owes me something in return, then I have attempted to put God in my debt. If my heart is not yielded in submissive respect, my sacrifice becomes a travesty. It becomes an attempt to get what I desire from Him without completely surrendering my heart. I tell God what I want Him to do for me, but I hold on to my right to do what I desire.

Living an obedient life is one that honors His sacrifice for me. When I answer and respond to God’s loving grace in absolute surrender of my will to His, something beautiful happens. An intimate relationship of dependency and obedience grows. “If you really love me,” Jesus told His disciples, “you will keep the commandments I have given you (John 14:15a, J.B. Phillips).  If I really love Him, I will obey Him. The question is how much I love Him. Do I really understand the debt that He paid on Calvary for me?  Do I get it–really take His sacrifice into my heart? He sacrificed his life for me. I respond with my surrendered life completely dependent upon His grace. When I give something in response to His love, not really expecting anything in return, I am not really sacrificing it. I just honor the fact that God owns my life and everything I have is His. When I accept the love of the Savior who gave His life for me, my debt has been paid in full. I am dependent on Him. He is my all-in-all, and there is nothing I can give to Him except my obedient life. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Am I Teachable?

“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).

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 change the Holy Spirit wishes to continually bring in my life. 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—allowing the Holy Spirit to mold my attitude and direct my actions. A willingness to be renewed means that I am willing 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 His. “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 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 choose to add His virtues in my life (2 Peter 1:5-7), my heart and mind are open to His sanctifying presence, and I receive His power that makes true change possible. 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 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 teachable 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 molded by the hand of God.

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Music

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

Because you belong to me, 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 and grace 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.

Through you I have the power to reach those you have failed‒the ones you have misjudged and the ones of whom you have thought less. Self always judges, and because of that you have had 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. Once surrendered my music will flow, rich and free, through you into others. Never allow the discordant failures of your life to hold you back. Because you know me as your Lord, and desire all of me now, your failures are 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 praised me with a steadfast heart. The music of his life was mine. He was my instrument. You, just like my servant, David, are also my instrument. Never allow hard circumstances to keep you from playing the music I have placed within your heart. Those circumstances, when given to me, have the ability to impart greater faith. Through your yielded 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 the greatest music on the strings of your life. Only I can bring out the beautiful promises that sing my praise.

“My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident,” David proclaimed. “No wonder I can sing your praises!” (Psalm 57:7, NLT). You are my instrument, child, and I am the conductor of your life. Have confidence in me. All I desire is your surrender and obedience. Open your heart to my music, and allow me to play upon the strings of your heart. Through you I will write music that draws men and changes hearts. Your life shall become a glorious symphony—if you will allow me to have all of you.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

He is My Hope

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:5, NLT).

I place my hope in God. I shall hope in Him alone. No matter what trials may come, my hope in Him will only increase. And I will have greater hope because I have more and more of Him. I will praise Him. My days shall be full of joy and peace. 

I never need to seek answers to what happens in this world. I only need to learn more of Him, and I will have all the answers that I need.  One day when I see Him face to face, I will not even need to ask, because all the answers will be in Him. For now all I need to know is found in knowing Him.

He is my answer.
He is my hope in all things. 

He is my Savior and my God.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Freedom in Forgiveness

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37, NLT).

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

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

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

I once heard the parents of a murdered girl speak of forgiving her murderer. They talked freely about letting the anger go, and wanting to be free of the burden of being victims. They wanted to move forward and not be in an emotional prison. They knew they needed to let go of their pain, and surrender the burden of wanting to get even. They had the freedom to choose either bitterness or forgiveness. With Christ's power they were able to forgive. With His power, we can make the same decision.

Holding on to the pain of unforgiveness is exhausting. Grabbing on to the bars of our emotional prison, we shake and demand our jailor to release us. The truth is we have jailed ourselves. We keep asking God to release the pain, and all along we have had the key to open the door. With the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, forgiveness sets us free. Are we ready to be released from our bondage of resentment, bitterness, anger, hurt, frustration, hatred, and all that claims a hard heart?  If we choose to forgive, then we surrender what we believe we have a right to own. His power will enable our choice and transform our heart. “I will give you a new heart,” the Lord promises, “and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT).

We, who have been set free by His grace, shall TRULY be free!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Release in Heart-to-Heart Prayer

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).

Why do some Christians not immediately turn to God when their burdens grow overwhelming? They struggle to find peace, and try every conceivable way they can possibly think of to achieve it. They know in their mind that peace can’t be found in circumstance, but still struggle to find a way to fix it. One would think that God would be their first avenue for relief, but He isn’t. Perhaps He hasn't answered prayers in the past the way they wished. Perhaps it is because they don't feel His presence, and they are afraid to try again. Perhaps that time of prayer, which had once been like a close friend, now seems so old and distant. Whatever the reason, they feel alone and separated by a wall that has grown in its immensity. 

God is still there, and however large the wall, it can come down. One chink in that forbidding structure, and it begins to tumble into pieces. One prayer from a heart-worn cry of the spirit, and the barrier starts to fall. We might not know what to pray, but the cry of the spirit does. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26, NLT). It is in surrender of yourself to God—it is in the surrender of a need to control—it is in the final surrender of your spirit to His spirit, when no words can express the pain in your heart, that you finally release your pain to God. Heart-to-heart prayer claims all of you. In that spirit-to-spirit closeness, there comes a peace that passes earthly understanding. You are protected, and loved completely. You are safe in His presence.

If it has been awhile since you have prayed from the heart, He is still there. If it has been awhile since you have felt His presence in prayer, He is still there. If it has been awhile since your heart has known close spirit-to-spirit release, He is still there. If you have never known the intimacy of this kind of prayer, He is right there waiting for you to surrender control of your life to Him. Heart-to-heart prayer is like an old friend who has never tired of the delay, but has waited patiently for to you to discover the joy in that friendship once more. Sweet prayer comes when you once again open the pain in your heart to the Holy Spirit. In that moment of intimate release, you know Him as He has always known you—completely and as one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Thankful Heart

A Thankful Heart

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).

            A precious friend discovered this verse at a time she desperately needed it. Having gone through the sudden loss of her only child, she faced sadness and utter desolation. Then God offered her a gift of hope. This verse revealed to her something that became a lifeline. She was told to give thanks in this terrible trial because it was God’s will for her to praise Him. Even though she didn’t feel like praising God at all my friend took God at His Word. Her praise became an offering of her pain and heartache to Him. It became her sacrifice of self. And God did a miracle. He lifted her from the terrible agony. Yes, she still felt the loss, but her focus changed from her pain to her promise. She would see her son again one day. Her life had a purpose and a message of promise to share with others.

 “Through Jesus,” the writer to the Hebrews declares, “therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV). The day my friend heard of the death of her son the news was shocking, sudden, and overwhelming. When faced when such hard news, numbness is often our first defense. After the numbness lifts the pain can become too much to bear. God knows if it isn’t released it can destroy us. Often pain is released in anger, and we strike out in its bitterness. The greatest way to release the pain is to God. In praise we find release. And, yes, it is a sacrifice to give praise when your life is fractured. It is a sacrifice to praise Him when what you face makes no sense to your heart. My friend found release in a sacrifice of praise to God. She discovered His strength in the midst of her loss.

The hardships of our lives will always come. When we are on the top of the mountain, we praise Him easily. When we are in the valley, praise becomes harder. God knows that when we praise Him in our hardest times we receive release from the pain which has claimed us. When we praise Him in the midst of loss or pain or discouragement or embarrassment or loneliness or sadness or illness, the heart and mind become stronger through its surrender.

Do you give praise in all circumstances? If not, the truth in Hebrews 13:15 is healing. All it takes is your acceptance of His love for you, and a willing heart to offer a sacrifice of praise. Through praise my friend has discovered God’s healing power in her life. Greater faith has become her reward. She knows God will not forsake her at any time. The pain you may feel now can become part of the joy you will receive. That joy is His gift to His child who praises Him no matter what. So praise Him in whatever your circumstance, and you also shall receive. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Words Fitly Spoken

“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.

Proverbs 10:18 imparts great truth. “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 gladly receive God's instruction and willingly 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.

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 hopethat 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. Always pray for your words to be filled with His love and purpose. Words fitly spoken make a difference.

Monday, March 14, 2016


“I have loved you with an everlasting love,” the Lord says. “I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3, NLT).

 I feel the weight of your sin. I feel the pain of your battered soul over this thing in your life that separates you from my love. Why can't you just let it go? You are like a drowning person who, instead of reaching for the safety of my forgiveness, holds on to this thing in your life that will surely drown you. It holds you in bondage and keeps you from feeling my love and forgiveness. Do you love it more than you love me? There was a time you were close to me and needed me. Do you not need me in your life anymore? I have sent my servants into your life to draw you back to me. I have sent those who love you with my love and share my truth in love. They pray for you day and night and will never stop until I am able to reach you again. Please let this go before you become too calloused to my pleading voice. I love you with my everlasting love and draw you in unfailing kindness. Please listen. Please, I’m beseeching you. I'm reaching out to your heart. Return to me. Allow me to love you again. I’m waiting with open arms. In my embrace you will find peace. Come home. You will be free.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Seek Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:5-8).

Life requires wisdom. When we are plagued with problems, we need God's wisdom to get through each hardship. When we have decisions that must be made, we need His wisdom to guide us. When emotions rage, we need His wisdom to keep us from actions which are based on our feelings alone. In these verses James explains we should pray and ask God for wisdom. Not only does He give it, but He is generous with it. We may ask why something happens, but God wants us to understand that His ways and thoughts are higher than oursthat we can trust His wisdom above our human feelings. If we trust Him and ask Him for the ability to handle our trials, He gives spiritual wisdom to deal with them. He directs us in every trial that we face.

In these verses James not only imparts that we should pray for wisdom, but tells us that we should pray trusting and believing that God will provide. If we pray for wisdom and feel we don't receive any, it is not because our faith is lacking. Feelings have nothing to do with faith.
Faith that is as small as a mustard seed is great enough to move mountains. James identifies the problem as being double-minded. A double-minded man grabs hold of “but what if”, and his faith depends on circumstance instead of placing what little faith he has in God's faithfulness. A double minded man is also one who sits on the fence and can't quite plant his mustard seed of faith in God. His mind has not been brought under the control of Christ. James writes that this man is unstable in all his ways. Why should God grant him wisdom? However, a person who is surrendered to the Lord, and believes in God's faithfulness, doesn't ask “but what if?” He chooses to believe in God's unwavering truth. Instead of being double-minded, He is single-minded in faith. He is focused on God's faithfulness instead of his circumstance. He knows that without God's help, He will fail. When this single-minded person cries for out for faith to believe–when he cries out for wisdom, he receives generously from the Lord. “No matter what I will trust Him” replaces “but what if”. In his cry for wisdom, he surrenders his fears to Jesus Christ and receives greater faith to believe that God will guide him safely through troubled waters.

I pray to always be single-minded, and never doubt God to supply His wisdom to handle ever trial in my life. I don't want to be like a ship tossed on the sea with no anchor to secure my faith. Are you tired of waves buffeting you and sending your mind in all directions? He is your anchor and guide through the storms of life. Bring your thoughts under the control of Christ, and decide to believe in His faithfulness. Fight “but what if”, and learn to believe in “no matter what I will trust Him”. He will reward you with His wisdom.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Stay True


Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16, NLT).

In 1 Timothy, chapter 4, Paul advises Timothy with his responsibility as a teacher of the Gospel. It is a strong lesson for the young man, and filled with crucial advice for ministry. The Scripture today is the last verse, and it brings to a powerful conclusion the whole message of the chapter. “Timothy,” he imparts, “be careful how you live, but not only be careful in your living; be careful in your teaching. Those you teach watch you.” Paul also wrote to the Corinthians, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited” (2 Corinthians 6:3, NIV). The truth of the matter is that this lesson does not just apply to people in what is considered “ministry”.  This applies to you and to me. Someone watches us. Someone listens to us. Everyone leads someone else. For the sake of own salvation, and the salvation of those who watch and listen to us, we must remain true to our faith with which God has entrusted us.

It is difficult for me to understand the manner in which some Christians interpret Scripture. When sharing a personal belief or a point of view or a sudden revelation, they fail to understand the power they have to influence others. If what they share is wrong, it leads others astray, and has the potential to cause spiritual damage. Just as Paul told Timothy we must remain true for not only the sake of others, but for ourselves. Each one of us is called to live responsibility and with integrity. We are called to be His light in this vacillating world. As His ambassador, we are called to share His love and His word correctly and responsibly. We must be responsible in doctrine. We are also totally accountable for our interpretation of Scripture. If we don’t want to become a stumbling block to others, we will share beliefs and thoughts responsibly and also live a holy life that reflects what we say.

You may have never considered the fact that what you teach, say, share, or live effects the one right next to you. We have the potential to speak life or death. We have the power to impart peace. We have the power to speak His Word, and when shared correctly, it imparts His maximum benefit. We have His power, and no man-made counterfeit, when we surrender ourselves to His truth and live it completely. We are called, just as Timothy, to live and share our faith responsibly. We are called, just as Timothy to understand that we stand accountable not only for us, but for others.

Each of us have a responsibility to live what Scripture imparts, and interpret it responsibly. The Word of God should never be manipulated. Scripture should never be offered as truth OUTSIDE the context of other verses. Scripture will never contradict itself. It stands complete and perfect its own powerful revelation. We, humans, make it less or make it more. Carefully we should always consider how our words and our lives impact those of whom we disciple or inspire.

Yes, we are His children, who inspired by the Holy Spirit, interpret Scripture in light of our own personality—in light of reason, and personal experience. We have a responsibility to love God and care for others He sends into our lives. Each one of us should take seriously the words which we offer as truth.  Always remember how these words may tear down a life or build it up. We have the power and the responsibility to share His love and His Word……especially to share it in His truth and power. That is when lives are changed. That is when hearts are renewed. That is when we know we have lived and shared as He wishes. Lord, help us, in what we impart and how we live. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


by Thelma Copeland

“You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13, NIV).

Have you ever wondered who you are? Have you believed everything you have ever heard about yourself? Is there one opinion that matters more? Did anyone confirm the opinion? Was it positive or negative? Do you believe it or are you just meeting expectations? Who are you? I wonder how many people ever find the answer to these questions.

In the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, the character Abilene repeats a mantra to a little girl named Mae Mobley. Though it is simple, it is incredibly profound. “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” Simple. Straight to the point. Why does Abilene tell this to Mae Mobley several times throughout the book? I think that Abilene wants to make sure someone lets that little girl know her worth. If Abilene accomplishes nothing else, she wants Mae Mobley to know that someone loves her and believes she is kind, smart, and important. Those are extremely essential traits to know about one’s self, especially at an early and crucial age.  

When forming new relationships, either with friends or potential mates, we feel the need or are asked to describe ourselves. How can you, if you are uncertain about the answer? You may think it can be found in who your friends are, who you love and marry, your choice of school, or your career, but I do not believe any of those things can explain the depth of a person. They may have relevance to an individual’s qualities, but can they examine the inner conscience or hidden longings? You may do some soul-searching or explore new places and experiment with new trends, but in the end you may only discover who you think people want you to be and go on pretending as if that is who you are. What a tragic conclusion to submit to.

As children, we are taught how to act or how to behave. We are told what is and what is not appropriate or acceptable. Those things are not inherently evil on their own, but when those opinions spill over and begin to shape one’s self-image, they can become detrimental and destructive. Instead of forming our own ideas and behavior, we are being taught by the standards of another, often trusted, person and we learn to adjust depending on who we are with.

To compensate for our perceived flaws, we create a variety of interchangeable masks. We have masks for our family and friends, the mask we present on social media, a mask for work or school, and the mask we put on for strangers. They each have their place and assist in helping us to blend into whichever group we are associated with at any given time. Which one of those masks do you wear for God? Is one the best, most perfect representation of yourself to present before God? 

The truth is, none of them are sufficient. He wants you. Just you. The real you.

The 2nd verse of Natalie Grant’s song, The Real Me, says,
“Painted on, life is behind a mask
Self-inflicted circus clown I’m tired of the song and dance
Living a charade, always on parade…”

“Always on parade.” We are performers. We put on a show. In times of struggle or heartache, do we not tell ourselves “the show must go on”? When did it become offensive to be true, to be real, and be ourselves? Who decided that we needed masks?

A line from the chorus of The Real Me says,
“There’s no need to mask my frailty
‘cause you see the real me.”

What does that mean? It means that no matter which mask we choose, no matter what hairstyle, clothing brand, or makeup we wear, no matter how smart we think we are or how many people we can fool, we will never be able to hide our true selves from God. He sees us. He knows us. The REAL us.

There’s an old adage that says, “If you are told something about yourself enough times, you start to believe it.” That is absolutely true. Tell someone they are ugly or stupid or worthless enough times and they will begin to live as if they are all those things and more. On the other hand, if you tell someone they are beautiful, intelligent, and valuable, they will walk in confidence and endeavor to exhibit those attributes. If then, an individual learns, comprehends, and accepts what God says, they can and will live a life that reflects those things. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” What a remarkable truth! We allow others to make us feel second-rate. The power is within us to relinquish that control and change. God doesn’t tells us to dislike ourselves, we do. In the book, Healing for Damaged Emotions by Dr. David Seamands, he writes about self-esteem and how to overcome the past hurts and rejoice in God’s love. Because we allow others to program our minds into feeling inadequate, we begin to believe it, then, as Dr. Seamands says, “once you become critical of the design, it isn’t long until you feel resentful toward the Designer.”

It is important to hear positive compliments from our family and peers; however, it is much more important to know and understand what God says about you. Dr. Seamands continues in a later chapter encouraging us to “Take Your Self-Estimate from God.” He writes, “What right have you to belittle or despise someone whom God loves so deeply? Don’t say, ‘Well, I know God loves me, but I just can’t stand myself.’ That’s a travesty of faith, an insult to God and His love.” “What right have you to belittle or despise someone whom God has honored so highly? ‘Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”’ (1 John 3:1). What I love most about Dr. Seamand's writing is that he backs it up with Scripture. This isn’t just the opinion of a man, it is the Word of God.

Some of the most well-known figures from Scripture asked the question “who am I?” Moses asked this question in Exodus 3:11 as did David in 2 Samuel 7:18. “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, ‘Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?’” Let these words be a reminder that you are not alone. It would be quite the feat to find a person who hasn’t asked that question at some point and possibly even more difficult to find a believer who has never asked that of God.

If those words are not enough, here are more…
1 Thessalonians 1:4 reads, “For we know, brothers and sisters, loved by God, that he haschosen you…” (NIV, emphasis mine). Psalm 45:11 says, “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty…” (NIV). Synonyms of the word “enthralled” are: captivated, enchanted, beguiled, mesmerized, etc. The king calls you beautiful! Song of Solomon 4:1 in the NLT reads, “You are beautiful my darling, beautiful beyond words…” The list just goes on and on. You are a child of God (John 1:12), a friend of Jesus (John 15:15), you are justifiedand redeemed (Revelation 3:24), free (Romans 8:2), a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), accepted (Romans 15:7), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), complete(Colossians 2:10), an overcomer (Revelation 12:11), healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24), and so much more.

Psalm 139:13 tells us that God
“…created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Never forget, He took great care to form you with His hands; therefore, the real you, is exactly who you were meant to be.

I will conclude this with a personal testimony. Over the past year I have been on a journey of healing. Healing I didn’t know was possible. Healing I didn’t believe would work. Healing that seemed too hard to attempt. God has changed my perception of myself and of Him. I never felt like I was angry at God, but I did question His choice in creating me. I wondered why God, so magnificent, would create a lowly person such as me. I knew stories of God using unqualified people, but that was different, wasn’t it? I did not believe that God could use me to do anything because I was not good enough at anything to be used. Then I learned that we must begin with ourselves. We are our first ministry. I had to become healed of my damaged emotions, reprogram my thought processes, learn to use my gifts as gifts and not feel shackled by them as burdens. I needed to be my first fruit (John 15:5). In that way, I am more available to be used by God and can hopefully help others on their journey. My heart has been designed to reach out and make sure others don’t waste as much of their lives feeling like I did. I want others to be free, to be changed, and to be used. I am in no way finished with my journey, but I can say that I have come farther than I ever thought possible. All because God prepared me, sent me the right person to encourage me, and I finally allowed Him to work. God told me a long time ago what He wanted me to do, but I was too scared and felt too inferior to actually do it. I may not reach the professional level that I once thought was my goal and that’s perfectly fine with me, but I am ready and willing to continue working on me until He sends me the first woman to encourage and guide on the journey to healing.

Always remember that you are not alone, you are not too bad, you’ve not fallen too far, and you are never beyond repair, because He is right there.

More Scripture references: Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 34:8, Isaiah 43:2, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 3:16, John 14:18.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Hiding Place—My Victory

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:7, NIV).

You are my hiding place, O Lord. You are my sanctuary—my place of safe retreat. Not only my refuge from life’s greatest fears, you are also my refuge from my own self. I may be able to retreat from others, but I can never hide from myself–from my own failures, my sins, my weaknesses, and my own limitations. Remembrance of my own failure surrounds me, and fills my mind. Trouble haunts me. Circumstances claim my thoughts. Sometimes there seems to be no relief from the war waged in my mind, but this verse reminds me once again that you are not only my hiding place. You are also my deliverance from within where I struggle and from without where circumstances barrage. You hide me until I forget my own limitations, and my failures–until my own sins are washed away and remembered no more. You hide me until sweet relief from my own sense of failure fills my heart and mind. You hide me until the breath of your peace fills me. In that moment of complete freedom, I release all that I have been to you. Your Spirit sweeps over me. Your perfect love claims me. You surround my life with your songs of deliverance. Joy is my song! I praise you! Your strength to conquer each trial inhabits me. I rise to win the battles that daily come. I rejoice in your strength because you are greater than my weakness and greater than any circumstance. There is no fear in your perfect love. I am completely and amazingly free to walk in your victory!

 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let my foot slip—
    he who watches over me will not slumber.
 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over me—
    the Lord is my shade at my right hand.
The sun will not harm me by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep me from all harm—
    he will watch over my life.
The Lord will watch over my coming and going
    both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:1-8. NIV).

You are my hiding place, Lord Jesus, and always my deliverer from trouble. You guard my life. You are my constant protector and strength. Nothing that comes against me can take me from your love. Because I am safely hidden in you, I can venture forth in your power. You, my sanctuary, are also my victory.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Life Changes

'I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

Life is never stagnant. It changes like the ebb and flow of waves upon sand. When the water recedes what is left behind is always altered. Whether good or bad, change can still be difficult and even frightening. Change means that what you have believed intrusted incounted on in this life is now different. When circumstances change for either good or bad, you may grieve the loss of what you believed would last. You may have difficulty with the adjustment that the change requires. No matter what happens in life, God is your only constant and sure foundation in this vacillating world. If your life is safely hidden in Godif He is your cornerstone of faith, you cannot fear change because He never changes. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 

God’s perfect plan for your life always gives hope for your future. Trust Him when the seasons of your life change. Learn His lesson in wherever circumstance life places you, and apply that lesson to your life. It makes the next change, whether good or bad, easier to handle, because you have learned spiritual balance in a world that offers no solid foundation. The Holy Spirit is available to help you handle any change. His powerHis strengthHis faithfulnessHis consistencyHis balanceHis peace is all yours to exercise each day. Claim His power, and constantly exercise your faith. You can never ask too much of God. His provision is unending. Living by faith in Him provides abundance in all that life brings. 

See, I am doing a new thing!” the Lord proclaims. “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because 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 43:19-21, NIV). Whatever new thing lies ahead in your lifewhatever change, He has made a way to provide exactly what is needed for your journey. He offers all the resources that you need. You are His child, and He will not forsake you or leave you. Praise Him and accept His spiritual peace. It is His perfect gift for your life–to know that in whatever change occurs, He has a plan and purpose for your life. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Delights in You

“For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4, NLT).

            If God “delights” in you why is it sometimes hard for you to find joy in Him?  If you are someone who believes God doesn’t listen or answer your cry for help, then you need to absorb the truth that He delights in you. He takes joy in you. He is constant–the same way yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is no change in His love for you. There is no change in Him (James 1:17). If you feel abandoned perhaps you have allowed something to make you lose confidence in Him. There might even be something sinful in your life that blocks His presence. God never abandons His children. He delights in you because you are His creation, and He died for you. That is the greatest love. That kind of love does not abandon. But we sometimes abandon that love by our thoughts and actions. Often we judge His love for us through the eyes of our own sin or through the pain of our own circumstance.

            You cannot know the delight of the Lord if you have something in your life that is blocking it. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that you have in your life that needs to be forgiven. Ask Him to reveal not only what you have done, but the real motive of your heart. Only listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and never listen to the enemy who will condemn you. There is always hope in Christ's conviction, but only despair in the lying condemnation of the enemy. Allow Christ's conviction to change your heart, and humble yourself in His presence. “In my distress I prayed to the Lord,” the psalmist wrote, “and the Lord answered me and set me free:” (Psalm 118:5, NLT). When you allow Him to change your heart, He will lift you from the darkest despair and set you free from sin’s power to control your life.

            You cannot know the delight of the Lord if some event or problem is so powerful that it keeps you from experiencing God's love and peace. You don't feel loved if you feel God has abandoned you. That very feeling of abandonment can bring anger and bitterness toward God, and then anger toward yourself for being angry at Him. Tell God you are sorry for your anger toward him, and forgive yourself for your anger toward you. Life happens. Events happen. Problems come. Trials are inevitable. God has not abandoned you. His power is greater in your life than that of any event. Yield control to Him. He takes delight in you especially when those trials have the ability to produce greater spiritual maturity.

            When you humble yourself before the Lord and give up anything in your life that blocks His presence, you invite His power into your life. When you allow the trials of life to spiritually grow you into His beautiful creation, you invite His victory. Instead of defeating you, those trials inspire you to trust Him more. He crowns the humble with victory. “Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT). His power is best understood in humility. Its greatest revelation is found in humility. Never forget that when He completely owns your heart, pride has no power to create a hunger for self-fulfillment. Your life is about Him, and not about you.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Kneel and Rise

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free:” (Psalm 118:5, NLT).

 Distress. It is a place of despair—a place where you feel deserted and alone—a place where your mind runs havoc with worry. Are you distressed at this very moment? Is life overwhelming, and is fear choking your faith? Your distress, instead of a place of imprisonment, can become a place of freedom. The Lord waits for you to come to Him. He waits for your need to be brought to His altar. When you turn to the Lord in prayer, He answers with the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead into new life. When you surrender all at His altar, you too are raised into the freedom of new life.

“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God,” the writer to the Hebrews imparts. “There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16, NLT). He waits at His throne of grace with a love that looks beyond your failures and sin, and recognizes your need. He waits with a grace so forgiving and so complete that nothing can impede it powers to change your life. When you come in distress and torment your soul cries out for His mercy and for His help. Your soul thirsts for His grace when your heart is strained to the breaking point. His mercy forgives, and His grace lifts you up when you have fallen down. You come to His altar—to the all-powerful, infinite, and sovereign God who can move mountains and change circumstances and lives. There He waits for you to come to Him, this omnipotent God, who yearns to love you intimately and wants to call you His child. There, on your knees in complete surrender, you receive His mercy and His forgiveness—there you find freedom from sin that that has claimed your heart. There you discover freedom from despair and worry. He lifts your head to meet His gaze, and you are lost in the love of His sacrifice. You receive His grace to meet any need. You are free in His forgiveness and love. You know He has not only redeemed your soul, but redeemed all that has burdened your heart and tormented your mind. You rise in His grace and freedom. You rise in victory and joy. You rise in peace and purpose. You rise free from sin and free from self. You rise in His new life—set free by the Savior who by His sacrifice opened this throne of grace to you. You rise in new life because you have knelt before Him, and allowed Him to own your heart.

Get That Monkey Off Your Back

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