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Thursday, June 30, 2016

No Longer Stuck in the Muck



“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 43:18-19a, NIV)?

If God does something new every day, then why don't I perceive it? Perhaps it is because I'm “stuck in the muck” of my life. A friend once told me, “I look at muck as something that is thick and heavy and keeps you in one place where you can't move—a place where I continue to believe the enemy's lies.” Whatever the stronghold that keeps me from perceiving and believing in God’s promises—that stronghold is muck in my life. It is the very thing that paralyzes me and keeps me from moving forward in faith. What is sad is that this muck can become my way of life.

Some synonyms for muck are mire, mud, filth, dirt, and slime. It sounds disgusting, but when that is what defines my life, it is disgusting. When I'm stuck in that muck of sin or fear or stubbornness or complacency or whatever holds me captive, any hope for greater faith is sucked out of me. My muck speaks death to my faith. It reeks of the enemy's ability to keep me from freedom. But, if I will allow God to reach down and help me, He has newness of life for me. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire,” the psalmist wrote. “He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2, NIV). If I reach up, He will grab my trembling hand, and with amazing strength of purpose, pull me out of that slime. Lifting me in His redeeming love, He will hold me safely and securely.

How do I get to the place where I am willing to admit the muck has me stuck, and I need God's help? If my muck is sin, then that is when I realize that it destroying my soul, and God is slipping further and further away. When it is complacency, then it is usually when something horrible happens to shake me to the core. When it is a stubborn spirit, then it is when I drown in the muck of my own making, because my need to control has had to have everything its own way. When it is from fear, then it is when my fear has utterly consumed and paralyzed me. Whatever it takes to admit that I am stuck in the muck that bounds my soul—whatever it takes to bring me to the point where I reach for His Hand—that is what needs to happen to make me desperate enough to let go and reach up for Him.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, I will give it to your descendants'" (Exodus 33:1, NIV). He longs for me to leave the muck I'm stuck in and move on to His “new thing”—that Promised Land He has for me. I choose to reach up, and grab His hand. I choose to leave the muck of the “former things” behind. When I allow Him to rescue me from what I have been, known, done, perceived, controlled, and feared, I discover He does do a “new thing”. I actually perceive His amazing “newness” for my life!

“See,” He declares, “if you will let go and forget all the muck that has defined your life, I will do something new!” I know that with His power and my surrender, this “new thing” will spring up. It will be His truth in my spirit claiming my soul for victory. I will know His spiritual perception alive and powerfully real wiping out the muck of the enemy’s lies. This “new thing” is my promised land.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

As He Has Loved Me



“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” 1 John 4:20-21, NIV).

These powerful words make me stop and examine my relationships with others. If I love God, then I am called to love others. If I cannot love those who are in my life—no matter how they act or treat me—then I cannot love God. “I am giving you a new commandment,” Jesus said. “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34, NLT).

Have I convinced myself that I truly love God but harbor bitterness, resentment, hatred, anger, jealousy, or some other aspect of unforgiveness in my heart?  If this is the case and I believe all is well in my love for Jesus Christ, then I am highly mistaken. I have not allowed the unconditional love extended to me on Calvary to change my heart and mind. Just like the servant who when forgiven by His master, I cannot extend forgiveness to another. Just as that servant I face the loss of what I have received. My love for God proves to be in name only. “Forgive,” Jesus says, “as I have forgiven you” (Luke 6:37). Forgiveness is not an option. Loving others is not an option. Calvary is not an option. But Calvary cannot become my life until I allow its love to transform me.

Allowing Jesus Christ to change my heart and mind begins when I give Him complete access to those   areas of my life that I have tried to hide from Him. When I allow His light to shine into areas where ugliness has ruled, I have to face just how ugly they have been. I have to honestly examine them and ask forgiveness for the free reign I have given them. I am not allowed to hang on to them, and allow them to fester. If I do not allow the Holy Spirit to transform my heart and cauterize these areas of unforgiveness, I will remain bound in a prison of despair and tormented by my inability to forgive.

If I cannot forgive with His love, then how can I be forgiven? “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love,” Jesus said (Luke 7:47). Jesus showed me the greatest love. He gave His life to forgive me. His love has fully forgiven me, and I choose to love with His love. I choose to forgive any who have hurt me. I choose His love above any feeling or emotional turmoil. I choose to allow His love to transform my heart and mind. In surrender of my will to His will, I will freely share His forgiveness with the depth of purpose and heart with which He has loved me. I will love as I have been loved.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Enter His Joy


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


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

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

It is His joy complete with its abundant peace. It is His joy that brings a deeply spiritual exhilaration of confidence when faced with pain and suffering. It is His joy that no one can take away from you. His joy is the result of a deeper spiritual existence that comes through a quietly sacrificed and obedient life. It comes as a result of suffering that has been courageously faced. If He is your strength and courage through times of suffering, then His joy becomes your greatest reward. Entering into the joy of the Lord now is entering into a spiritually fulfilled life with Him here on earth. One day your life here will be completed, and you will know Him as He has always known you. That will be the ultimate joy. If you are a good and faithful servant who quietly and responsibly takes care of what God has entrusted to you, the joy of the Lord will be your strength to handle whatever life brings (Nehemiah 8:10). His peace will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). “Well done, good and faithful servant” will be more than words longing to be heard. You will know, with no earthly fanfare or recognition, that He is delighted with you.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Am I Accountable?

Am I Accountable?

“Against you, and you alone, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4a, (NLT).

              We live in a quick fix society. We don't like to wait for anything. Patience is something that is foreign. Whatever we go through, if it involves any discomfort or pain, we want it to end immediately. Commitment and perseverance are virtues that have fallen by the wayside. “Superficiality,” writes Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline,” is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.”

              Society also teaches me that whatever is wrong in my life, it is not a result of anything I have done. “Don't blame yourself,” society forgives, “someone else caused this to happen. You couldn't help it.” It is time that I take responsibility for what I am, what I believe, what I say, and how I act. I am not responsible for circumstances over which I have no control, and it would be self-defeating for me to analyze the cause of each one. But I am responsible for how I respond to failures, trials, problems and life. I am totally responsible for my reaction. I can't say as the comedian, Flip Wilson, once exclaimed, “The devil made me do it!” No, I did it myself. I am responsible. Against God alone have I sinned.

              Spiritual growth in Christ is convicting. It doesn't allow me to make excuses. It tells me that I must take responsibility for my bad attitude or my fly-off-the-handle reaction.  It means that I should learn from my failure, and make every effort to not create that circumstance again. Spiritual maturity also tells me that the next time I am faced with circumstances either of my own making or not of my own making, I will react 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 I can have the fruit of the Spirit alive in my life is to allow all the selfishness of myself to be crucified with Christ. When I am willing to make this selfless journeywhen I am willing to accept responsibility for all that I amwhen I realize that without Him I cannot become my true self, then I have begun the journey to grow deeper in Him.

              “The desperate need today,” Richard Foster concludes with his thought about superficiality, “is not for a greater number of people or intelligent people, or gifted people, but for a deep people.”  I want to go deeper into His Word, and His Truth. I want my life to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, and my mind to be renewed. I yearn for the virtues that Peter writes about in 2 Peter 1:3-7 to anchor my life—those spiritual qualities of diligence, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, and godliness, brotherly kindness, and love!

              Are you tired of easy answers that offer no lasting peace? Take responsibility for who you are, and allow Him to continually mold your life. When commitment and perseverance are fully developed in your life, you shall be mature and standing strong in Him (James 1:4). You will know the freedom that comes with spiritual growth and accountability. No more masks to hide behind. No more trying to find a way to avoid what you face. You will know that where the Spirit of God is, you have been set free. And those who are free, are free indeed!
             

Friday, June 24, 2016

Desire Only Me



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

(Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 16:3, Luke 22:42, Luke 1:37, Hebrews 13:8, Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 62:11, Philippians 4:6-7, Revelation 22:13. Isaiah 41:13, I Corinthians 13:9-12, Jeremiah 31:3 Philippians 1:6, II Corinthians 3:17, Isaiah 40:31)

-Lynn Lacher

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Out of the Well



“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11, NIV).

In my weakness, He is strong. When I am weak in an area of my life and I surrender my weakness to His power, He comes and brings His strength where I have never known strength. His grace is all I need, and his power is the greatest where I am the weakest. Often that surrender comes after I have exhausted everything I can do to make a change. It comes when I finally understand in my mind, body, and spirit that control is not meant to be mine. If my weakness is over something that I have no control, then the Holy Spirit brings me the power to have His control. But the key—the very key to this promise comes in surrender of my will to His will.

If I believe that I have completely surrendered my will to the Lord in every area, I need to look again. I need to understand that absolutely surrendering my control to His control comes when I have decided that my human attempts are worthless. Sometimes I find myself at the bottom of my own self-constructed well. I hear the enemy whispering “you will never get on top of this” and “you are a failure.” I will never get on top of it in my own strength. I will fail without God’s power. Those whispers of the enemy are true only if I don't surrender and allow God to make the changes that need to be made.

When I am at the bottom the only way is up. I can either keep trying to climb out of that well by myself, or I can give up and reach for the hand God continually extends to me. It is in the dying to my will that He comes and brings new life. It is absolutely possible for me to find a way out of that well in my own strength, but I will only end up at the bottom again. When I finally understand that nothing I attempt in my own strength will make a lasting difference—when I surrender (often struggling) every day to God—when I decide that nothing has the power to change me but God—when I let go of my own attempt at control and allow Him to give me what I need for the daily battle, then His power comes to overcome my weakness. Not only will I climb out of my well. I will stay out of that well.

Each day that I surrender my weakness to His power, I know He is strong. That knowledge and the experience of His power encourages me to reach for His hand again the next day. I know that if I continually surrender He will faithfully bring His power to accomplish what I can’t. The desires that fuel my weakness always beckon, but so does He. I would rather surrender to Him than surrender to the well.

Lord, help me to always realize that surrendering my will daily to you is the only real life. Your life in me is the greatest paradox—that in dying I live—that in losing control I discover your control—that in my weakness I discover your strength. Those slippery walls that have always allowed me to slide right back to the bottom of the well are finally scaled with your power.  In my weakness, I have experienced your power. I rejoice that in my surrendered weakness, your power is perfected. I look back upon my well from your heights, and declare that only you will keep me out of it—only you and a surrendered heart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Forgiving



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

What is the best gift you can give? It isn't found in a store. It isn't something that you can touch or feel. It isn't something that will one day get lost or damaged. It is real and changes hearts. This is the gift of God’s unconditional love, and it always inspires forgiveness. Forgiveness is free and keeps no record of wrong that has been done. It lets go of hurt and releases the one who caused the pain from any debt. It does not judge or condemn. In return you are also forgiven. Love and forgiveness and another chance are the very best gifts you can give to others and to yourself.

When it comes to forgiving yourself, this is where forgiveness can become difficult. If you can extend forgiveness to others, you can also receive it within your own heart. When you have repented and don't forgive yourself for what God has forgiven, you give those past wrongs the ability to wreak havoc in your life. That mistake or sin or fault can sit in the back of your mind and grow large and overwhelming. It can destroy your assurance of God's love and forgiveness, and make you question if He has truly forgiven you.  He is a “God, ready to forgive, gracious and merciful” (Nehemiah 9:17, NIV). He has forgiven you completely and your debt is gone. The condemning guilt you feel can be wiped away.

How can you forgive yourself? That is a hard area and there are no pat answers. What I share in this next paragraph comes from my own experience. Perhaps you believe you have forgiven someone for a betrayal or something they did that was dishonest. Perhaps you believe you have forgiven them for rejecting your love or neglecting your trust. But if you have forgiven them for what they have done, why can't you accept God's forgiveness for your own betrayal of others, or your own action that was less than completely honest, or that time you rejected love and neglected a trust? His love forgives when you repent. Perhaps the inability to forgive yourself lies in the fact that there are underlying unresolved feelings from things that have been done to you. Even though you have reached out and made amends and also been forgiven by others, maybe you still feel guilty and unworthy of forgiveness. Although you believe you have forgiven others for what they have done to you, your inability to forgive yourself might reveal something you haven't even realized–an inability to really forgive those who have hurt you. When you can reach the place where you truly forgive others for the same things for which you have been forgiven, then you also have the power to forgive yourself.

Jesus has told us that if we forgive we will be forgiven. Forgiveness is an act of will. His forgiveness within your heart begins with a mental decision to do it. When you open your mind and heart to the Holy Spirit, He begins a work of healing of unresolved feeling in His time and in His perfect way. Choose to forgive what has been done to you and choose to not hold anything against anyone who has hurt you. Ask God to help you deal with all feelings that are involved. Choose to forgive yourself, and let go of any hurt you harbor. Allow God to open you to what you need to face so that any emotional pain can be healed. He will help you move forward in His complete love and forgiveness, and He will deal with the past hurt and pain. He promises to take to the grave all the pain and hurt and bitterness and anger and rejection and neglect that you have experienced, and to raise you with Him in newness of life. Today is a beginning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Live Sincerely



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


God calls each one of us to live a faithful life that shares His love. So many times we feel that there is something that we personally must do to change someone's heart. That is not our place. He has called us to share His love and to live our faith honestly and sincerely (2 Corinthians 2:17). We are to leave God's work in the human heart completely in His hands.


People don't just need to hear about who Jesus Christ is. They need to see us living changed lives as a result of His love at work in our own hearts. They don't need to just hear about His forgiveness, but they need to continually receive ours. They don't just need to hear about His power, but they need to experience it through our lives. They don't just need to hear about His peace, but they need to see our calm reassuring faith in Him no matter what our circumstance. They don't just need to hear about His joy, but they need to see His joy spring up from depths of faith. They don't just need to hear of His love, but they need to feel His love that washes away sin, recognizes their need, and encourages their potential.


If we live completely surrendered to Him, people will see Him in us. They may accept or reject Him, but they will have experienced His love and witnessed His power. “Our lives,” Paul declares, “are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16a, NIV).


Let’s make this personal. It is not just about how “we” live for Him. I am responsible for how I live my life. I can't live another Christian's faith or calling. When I live His calling, He does the work and brings all His power to draw each heart to Him. All I must do is be faithful to Jesus Christ and allow Him to continually change my own heart. I never have all the answers. He has the answers; I live His love. I am called to live my life for Him in sincerity and honesty. I pray to be a life-giving perfume, but it is not my place to save or change anyone else. It is my place to live the change He has wrought in my life, and leave the work of the Holy Spirit in each man's heart to the Savior who makes all the difference.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Praise Him in Everything


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).

How many times in my Christian life have these verses inspired me to keep running the race of faith—to keep reaching for the prize that I shall receive—to persevere to win—to throw off everything that keeps me from pressing on—to fix my eyes on Jesus who ran this race—to not give up or lose heart? This race to live a life of faith can be so rewarding yet can also be so difficult. Many times we just want to give up, but God says not to lose heart no matter what we face in life. A verse in the next chapter of Hebrews reveals something that makes this race so much easier.“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” Hebrews 13:15, NIV). One of the most powerful things we can do to make this race easier is to praise the Savior for whom we run it. This verse instructs us to continually give God a sacrifice of praise. It is surely easier to praise God on the mountaintop when everything is right in our world than down in the valley when life is hard. But we are instructed to continually praise Him no matter what we face now or what lies ahead. When we praise Him on the mountaintop, He rejoices with us. When we praise Him in times of hardship our praise is a sacrifice that honors Him and lifts us to greater faith. Whether high or low, we praise Him because in all things He carries us.

Praising God no matter what I face in life reveals how much I trust Him. It reveals who He is in my heart, and how much I have focused my mind on His truth. When I praise Him in all circumstances, He rewards my praise with His peace. He is my God, and He will never fail me. His strength and joy will conquer all that comes against me. He is my guide through the pitfalls. No weapon can rise against me. He will protect me. No discipline can tire me. I will learn the lesson He wishes to impart. I will not blame another, but will face and accept responsibility for anything that I have done. I will also forgive anyone who has hurt me so that the enemy can't destroy my faith. I will trust God to take care of any fear that tries to defeat me. I shall persevere, and hold on. I will run this race and make it through any difficulty because I have praised Him in all moments. He is my strength because I have none within myself, and in my weakness, I have discovered His. I run with a heart and mind to endure at all costs, and I praise Him because He is the reason that I run the race. I will be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hold On for Complete Joy



“Dear brothers and sisters, 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 1:2-4, NLT).   

            Do you need to hear a message that tells you to keep holding on and never give up? This devotional is for you. I pray that it encourages you. The testing of our faith produces great joy. It also develops perseverance. These verses say that if we allow perseverance to work in our life we will be complete in our faith and not lack anything in hard times. That is a powerful thought. There is a work going on inside us, and it can only be completed through commitment and perseverance. Spiritual growth discovered through perseverance has the power to create a joy that nothing can shake. When we have fought to learn His lesson and we have won, there is no joy like the joy of victory. Patient endurance is what we need, and if we press on to do His will, then we will receive all that He has promised (Hebrews 10:36).

            The Lord’s desire is for faith to spring up in the midst of our suffering. It is our decision whether the lesson is learned. Trials and suffering should inspire spiritual growth. “These have come,” Peters imparts, “so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (I Peter 1:7, NIV). The testing of our faith during hardship is meant to create the ability to persevere. It is our decision whether we allow His refining fire to purify and strengthen us.

            “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face,” Paul writes. “All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, MSG). No test of circumstance that we endure-no temptation we face will be more than we can handle with His strength. He knows our limit. His grace is more than sufficient, and He will provide the strength to stand. We can either be adrift in fear, or we can allow God to anchor us in faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). We press on through the hardship of life in order to believe in that we can’t touch or see.

            “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in (or wait upon) the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV). We can soar above the trials of life. We can run and not be weary. All that we must do is allow perseverance to complete its work so that we will be completely mature and not lack anything in our spiritual lives (James 1:4). Joy then becomes something not built on circumstance, but on a faith that is full and complete.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Choose You



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

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

Lord, keep me from a prideful spirit. Keep me on your altar until my heart is so broken that it remains forever pliable in your hands. I don't want to have my way, Lord. I want yours, and I seek it. I won't be concerned over things that are too deeply complicated at this time for me to grasp. You create the masterpiece. I know my life is only a small part of your greater plan. I trust you to take care of that which is beyond me. I let go of all “self” that hinders and keeps me from greater reliance on you. I trust you over any perceived promise. I trust you over anything my human mind conceives.

Thank you, Lord that you are God, and I am not. You are Savior, and I am not. I never create or save. I pray to always be your available instrument, but, thankfully, I am free because I know that you are in control. I choose to believe who you say I am. I leave myself on your altar. I choose you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Like Chicken on Sunday



“Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” (Hebrews 11:1, AMP).

Does my faith give me assurance for the things that I hope for? Does it offer proof for the things that I don't see? Faith asks me to perceive with my spiritual mind and heart what the human mind can't perceive. According to the Amplified Version, it gives me a confirmation to things that are only hoped for. It gives me a title deed to some things that I can't touch right now. That is an amazing conception. Faith gives me a title deed to some things that are to be—not that are. Faith gives me conviction to their reality. My faith—my hope—my promises are tangible to me. I believe in them because they are real even though I can't see, hear, touch, smell, or taste them. Faith to believe has come through years that God has stretched me almost beyond bearing. Life has forced me to believe in that which seems impossible. His faithfulness has become real because the trials of life have made it stronger. If He is faithful to me, I must honor Him with greater faith.

A friend once shared something with me. She had been studying this verse, and the last phrase in the Amplified Version struck her. It defines reality as “faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to my senses.” The two words “faith perceiving” started a spiritual journey of discovery. “If your mother always cooked fried chicken on Sundays,” she said, “you would have faith to know before you ever walked in and smelled it frying, that it was in the pan. That faith is brought about by the events of the past. My mother always cooked chicken on Sunday. So it is important for us to look at the past and remember the things He has done for us, provided for us, brought us though. This is a faith building exercise.”

Trusting God requires allowing God to build our faith. God stretches us to believe in His promises. He stretches us to believe in what we can't see with our eyes or touch with our fingers. He gives us faith to believe in a promise that we do not hear spoken. He takes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to believe for something greater. When we determine to grow in faith, we receive His eyes, His ears, and His spiritual understanding (Matthew 13:16-17) to believe in His unchanging faithfulness. In His Word He gives us His precious promises. To believe in these promises He offers the greatest faith building exercise for life. “For this very reason make every effort to add to your 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. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8, NIV). If we add these virtues in our lives, no matter what happens in the natural realm, we will grow in our faith to believe in His promises that are in the spiritual. We will never be found lacking in our faith in Christ. Believing by faith in what I can't see, hear, or touch will be like knowing that because it is Sunday there will be chicken to eat.

Monday, June 13, 2016

He Encourages 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 we may stumble, we will not fall. We will not fail when the Lord upholds us with His hand. We shall succeed in what we attempt for Him. It is incredible and wonderful to know that when we delight in the Lord and seek to live a holy life—when we are surrendered and obedient to His will, He makes each step we take firm and sure. I may doubt myself, and you may doubt yourself, BUT He does not doubt who He has created us to be. “Be strong and courageous!” David said to Solomon his son.” Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (2 Chronicles 28:20). The Lord continually encourages us to realize the potential He sees in our life.

Just as David told his son, He will not forsake or fail you. 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. “Be confident of this,” He declares, “that I who began this good work in your life will also complete it” (Philippians 1:6)!  Don’t ever forget He will supply all that you need to realize the potential that He alone can bring in a surrendered life.

Friday, June 10, 2016

No Fear in Perfect Love



“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a, NIV).

There is no perfect earthly love. Earthly love changes with circumstance and changes with feeling. But there is a perfect spiritual love which conquers fear, and lives in faith that God will take care of anything that comes against it. This perfect love carries me safely through all of life's struggles and heartaches. It never deserts me, and it never changes. When this spiritual love is perfected in my life, it brings greater faith to believe in the impossible. What is this perfect love? It is the love of God who gave His son, Jesus Christ, for me. If that is beyond my human capacity to understand, it is meant to be. I can't understand such a perfect love with my mind. It is useless to try to analyze it. My mind can't fathom this depth of this sacrificial love, but my spirit and soul can receive it. 


The only way to receive this perfect love that conquers fear is to allow Christ into my heart. He loved me enough to die for my sin so I might be set free from its control over me. He, who was perfect and knew so sin, became sin, so it might be crucified forever it my life and I might receive His perfect love. Fear can only be defeated with His perfect love living in me. When I let go of what is imperfect in me, I receive His love which washes away all that I have been so I may receive all that He is. With His perfect love in my life continually changing me, His love becomes stronger in me and perfects me. Only His perfected love in my life can drive out fear, and give me faith to believe. If I remain rooted in His love and growing in His grace, perseverance will finish its work so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything (James 1:4). I will be strong enough to choose faith over fear.


If I am dealing with great fear, then His love has not been perfected in me. My mind has been focused on my struggles, and my feelings have pulled me away from His promised fullness of life. The Lord will keep me in His perfect peace only when my mind remains on Him instead of any circumstance (Isaiah 26:3). I cannot grow stronger on what I “feel”. I can only become stronger on what “I know”. Today I rejoice in the promise that His perfect love drives out all fear. It truly does drive it out as His love is continually perfected in me. That is my promise and that is my journey―to be perfected by the Lord who gave all of His life for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Renewed in the Spirit of My Mind


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).
What is the grace of God? It is favor from Him that I don't deserve. There is nothing I can ever do that will earn His favor. His favor is a gift. His mercy delivers me from the punishment my sin deserves, and His grace blesses me even though I am not worthy. His grace that is sufficient for my every need would not be real if Jesus Christ had not loved me enough to die for me. But He did, and because of His sacrifice, His love, mercy and grace have rescued me.
In view of His tender mercy that forgives my sin, I choose to offer myself as a living sacrifice, and live each moment in surrender to the amazing love that saves me. I choose for my mind to be constantly renewed and molded by His grace and His power. In choosing to live a righteous life, I honor His faithful obedience to sacrifice His life for me (Ephesians 4:23-24). An obedient heart is one that chooses to sacrifice selfish desires out of love and commitment. He was obedient to death on a cross. No sacrifice of mine can ever be as great.
“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind!” Paul declares in Ephesians 4:23, (KJV). “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” He instructs in Romans 12:2 (NIV). This instruction is life-changing. To be renewed and changed by Him is an obedient decision that I make. In return He brings His power to transform and renew my thoughts and my desires. It is my choice to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24, NIV). It is my decision “to 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 (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV). I allow Him to change my life when I purposely seek these qualities.
When I make the decision to spiritually grow into the person He knows that I can become, He faithfully changes my self-focused mind into one that focuses instead on others. If I constantly and consistently surrender my mind to the power of His Spirit and choose to add these qualities in my life, I will be continually renewed in the “spirit of my mind”. I shall not only be effective in what I do for Him (2 Peter 1:8), but I shall never look again at anything with a mind which has closed itself to all possibilities. My whole perspective will be changed by His renewing power; I will realize with His spiritual understanding what my human understanding could never perceivethe unreachable depths of the greatest love which continually changes me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wisdom Builds



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

Our spiritual lives are starved for the advice found in this proverb. We may not acknowledge it, but it is true. Without God's wisdom to build my life—without His understanding which grounds my life—without His knowledge which fills my life with His purpose, my life is indeed empty. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain” (Psalm 127:1, NIV). Unless I allow Him to grow stronger in me, my efforts at life will have little meaning. I will fail. Unless I allow the Lord to guide and watch over my life, my efforts will be in vain. I don't want my life to be a spiritually empty house. I can't build me. Only He can.

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

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

In Quietness and Trust



Have you ever faced something that has been said about you? Something that you know is not true?  Something another has misunderstood or has not even asked you about?  Perhaps you have been the recipient of misunderstanding or maybe you have even unknowingly been the instigator. Perhaps you have tried to help another and the enemy has made your motive seem wrong and destructive. Because we live out His love in our relationships, living for Christ places those relationships at risk. In Psalm 37:1-11, He guides us safely through rough waters, and offers direction to handle whatever comes against us.

“Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
 for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
“Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
“Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
“Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
“A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity” (NIV).

            The meek will inherit the land. The meek will receive that which is meant to be theirs. Those who are humble in the Lord will receive their promise. No matter what evil they might see around them, it will one day be as nothing. What a promise. But I must have a humble spirit for it to be true. I must have a heart that seeks God instead of focuses on what I am unable to change. In these verses David outlines exactly what should be real in my life for me to inherit my promise.

            David writes that I am not to fret. Don't worry. Trust in Him. Be assured of His faithfulness no matter what I see. Dwell in the land, and stop finding fault.  Be content. Make commitments to Him. Put down roots and discover that He cares for His own. Delight in Him. Praise Him, and look for the good that He has planted in my life. And He will give me the desires of my heart.

            If I commit my life to Him completely, He will vindicate me. No matter what I face or might be said about me, He shall be my vindicator. I do not have to prove anything. He is my proof, and my promise. In quietness and trust I shall find my strength in Him (Isaiah 30:15). I shall be still and know that He is God. I shall wait for His promise instead of taking matters into my own hand. If I wait for Him my strength is renewed, and my peace is secured. What I see will not injure. What I hear will not finish me. What suddenly arises to destroy my peace will gain no entry. I have committed my life to the Lord, and I trust only in Him.

            My friend, take heart. Commit your way to Him. Trust in Him, and He will take care of what you cannot. When you focus on Him, He becomes your reality instead of the temporal of this world. Those who have misunderstood your heart will not steal your peace. Those who might believe the enemy’s accusations will not steal your joy. When the Lord is your truth and your purpose and your heart’s desire, nothing will prosper against you. In peace and spiritual prosperity, you will know with every fiber of your being that He is your God, and He is in control.
 _______________

Monday, June 6, 2016

His Priceless Worth



 It takes time for a priceless pearl to form or for us to discover the inner beauty that comes from the trials of life. A pearl's perfection comes from the constant irritation of sand within an oyster. Life is filled with constant irritation. Those irritations can spur me on to spiritual growth or they can destroy what God wishes to produce. Whether good or bad, my life is a result of my attitude. “Rejoice always,” Paul encourages, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).  It is God's will that I have a good attitude in all circumstances. I will rejoice no matter what. I will pray continually no matter what. Trusting God with a “no–matter–what–happens attitude” can lift me above whatever I face. I surrender to the lesson—not to the circumstance.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy,” Paul instructs, “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV). Do I want to be a living sacrifice? Do I long to have a sacrificial attitude or do I fight against the lessons of life? Strength, joy, peace, and a “no–matter–what–happens attitude” come from surrender to God's perfect will for my life.

Surrender is not an option, and it certainly does no good to rage against my circumstance. When God’s incredible mercy is my reason for living, then giving myself is something that comes through the renewing of my mind by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I yield to His lesson for my life. I sacrifice that “fight” against circumstances that are beyond my control. By gracefully accepting the pruning of the Master Gardener's hand upon my life, I accept the lesson found in His discipleship. Learning God's lesson becomes my passion.

          I can never humanly count the cost of surrender. Too much mental analysis of the cost, and I may retreat from the depth of inward commitment that surrender needs.  Too little consideration of the cost, and my commitment of surrender may not last. I just let go of who I think I am. I let go of my desires, of my agenda, of my control in every circumstance and every situation, and allow God to lead me. I allow God be in charge of my life. I have spiritually accepted that letting go is worth everything for what I receive in return. It is in the moment of surrender of all that I struggle to control in my life that I discover the grace of His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

  God gives me the freedom to choose either my own way or His. I now seek that priceless pearl. I will sell all of myself to Him in order to possess it. When I surrender all the shallowness of who I have been for the fulfillment of who He is, I discover that in surrender of His life for mine I have become His pearl of greatest price. Such love is beyond my mind's ability to understand. But I don't need to understand. I just let it go, and accept the miracle of His priceless worth.
*******


Friday, June 3, 2016

Step Out in Faith

Step Out in Faith

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

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

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


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

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Believe Something New

Believe Something New

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


As human beings we sometimes have a tendency to dwell on the past, and often because of this tendency, we miss the beauty of a new thing God creates. Is there anything in your past that you allow to hold you back from experiencing God’s blessing in your life? Why is it so hard to get rid of old feelings that keep you from experiencing the joy of a new moment?  If you have asked Jesus Christ into your heart, you are “new” in Him. Old things are over. Your old is not meant to define your new. If you allow the old to control your heart, you can never see the new thing He brings into your life.


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


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


“Have you not heard?” God declares. “Have you not understood?  I am the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth. I never grow tired or weary. I give power to your life. Trust and believe in me, and find new strength! You will soar high above the pain of circumstance and the old that has defined your life! You will run and not grow weary. You will walk and not faint!  I am about to do something new! See, it has already begun?  Do you not see it? Believe me (Isaiah 40:28-29, 31; Isaiah 43:19).

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Perfect Me, Lord


Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NIV).
My life is His creation. I am on a journey reaching to be more like Him. If I continually reach to be “perfect” like Him, I discover a sacrifice of my will and surrender to His purpose that builds my character. He is perfect because He is God. He is perfect love, perfect forgiveness, perfect grace, perfect virtue, and perfect righteousness. That adjective “perfect” becomes His action upon my life when, as a verb in the present tense, He changes me as only He can. He “perfects” me. When I surrender all the things that keep me from growing spiritually, He molds me into His creation. As His hand presses here and there in my life, I become more refined by Him. When I allow Him to change me, His perfection of character has become my desire.
Honestly evaluating my life and how I live my faith, I will—without excuse—assess my character. He will show what I need to change and impart His power to do it. He will reveal how my life impacts others, and what it says about me. When He reveals something I didn't handle well, I will seek to understand how I could have handled it better. I will pray about how such a mistake could have been avoided. If I have absolutely failed Him by action or deed, I will ask from a truly repentant heart for forgiveness and move on. I shall not freeze out of fear of failing Him again. If I am honest with Him and with myself, then He can mold me into the person He desires.

If I surrender my life, He is always as close as my next breath. He is always my helper in my darkest moment. He leads me through circumstances that overwhelm. He brings me from my weakness to His strength and power—from destruction to His protection—from poverty to supply—from doubt to faith. I will never forget that He has rescued me from sin, and wrought His love, peace, and joy in my life. Never will I allow any circumstance or failure to destroy His life in me. I will turn that circumstance and failure around for His glory. I will allow everything in my life to develop His character in me.

“Being confident of this,” Paul wrote, “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:6, 9-11, NIV).  When times are hard and circumstances rage, I will remember that He has begun this work in me, and I am being changed for His glory and purpose. He perfects me according to His will. Nothing is more perfect than that.

KNOWING JESUS

  Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing...