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Friday, December 30, 2016

The Heartbeat of Your Life

“Abide in me,” Jesus told His disciples the night before His death, “and I will abide in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4, NKJV). In abiding,” Bruce Wilkinson writes in Secrets of the Vine, “you seek, long for, thirst for, wait for, see, know, love, hear and respond to a person.” Jesus Christ longs to have a deep intimate relationship with you—not just one that scratches the surface of your heart, but one that draws you daily into His presence. When your life is one of abiding in His presence He is your reason you seek truth. He is the hunger and thirst that is only satisfied with His intimacy. You have His peace. You wait for His call to move. You love with His love. You hear what He imparts, and you see what He wishes. You understand with His wisdom. You are in a relationship that changes the very core of who you are, and drives your life into utter fulfillment.

In these verses Jesus represents the vine and you the branch. Your life remains vital and alive as long as you stay connected to the source of your spiritual life. If you don't, you dry up and wither away.  “Think about the meeting place of vine and branch,” Wilkerson writes. “Why would Jesus give us a picture of a living thing whose life forcethe sapis mysteriously out of sight?  One reason could be that, in abiding, what happens on the surface doesn't count; what's happening inside does.” When you surrender to His will something amazing happens inside your heart and mind. That yielding of self creates a connection that brings His power and purpose. Nothing can keep you from the powerful spiritual life-changing force to be found in surrender when you desire His will instead of your own. In inward surrender of “self”, the outward “you” changes. When your life reveals the change in your heart the outward result is His power flowing freely and unrestrictedly through you.

Have you surrendered to the living-changing force of His will or does the heart sacrifice He calls for asks too much of you? Do you remain in His presence allowing Him to shape and mold your inner man? Do you seek His truth and purpose? Thirst for His living water? Wait for His guidance and answer? See with His eyes instead of what you see with your own? Hear with His ears instead of what your own receive? Understand with His spiritual mind instead of what your human mind perceives? God disciplines sin and prunes self so that not only your life will be transformed, but so others will be impacted by the change He has wrought in your life. When the life-blood of Jesus flows into your surrendered life, you are filled with the heart-beat of His purpose. When your heart beats for Him the change that has happened inwardly flows outwardly to others so that they too may hunger for His purpose and promise.

Does your life bear fruit? Do you surrender your will and abide in His presence? Do you continually experience the life-giving flow of His grace?  This intimacy is where He becomes all that you are not and imparts all you can never find alone. Filled with His joy He is the heartbeat of your next thought—your next action—your next word. He lives in you, and abides in you.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Does He Hear Me?

“If you refuse to obey what you have been taught, your prayers will not be heard” (Proverbs 28:9, NCV).

Last night at our prayer time our pastor shared this verse from Proverbs. What does it mean for my life? What does it require of me? When I lay my prayer requests upon God’s precious altar I want to know that He has heard my heart.  If I want my prayers to be heard by the Lord then I choose to daily obey what He has taught me—what His Word instructs. All He asks is that I walk in obedience to Him—that I love Him—that I serve Him with all my heart and soul (Deuteronomy 10:12). I choose to study and know His Word and allow its message to change my heart. I choose to live its precepts. I choose to serve Him with all my heart and soul. Jesus was tempted in every way that I am—yet He never sinned. He understands what I face and how hard my temptation can be. He also never gave in to temptation. With His power I can live a sinless life—if I choose it. And if I live a life that honors Him I can approach His throne with confidence knowing that He hears my requests and will help me in my time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16). Living a holy life and praying are inseparable. One effects the other. Living a life worthy of His love drives me to spend time with Him in prayer. My prayers never change God. Prayer changes me to grow in His grace until the desires of His heart become mine. And that is where the miracle of spiritual oneness is found—where He becomes all that I am not.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wonderfully Made

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you” (Psalm 139:13-18, NIV).

I am not just a mass of tissue. I did not just “happen”. My days were planned before they even existed. You not only created me from within my mother's womb, you created a hunger in the depths of my soul for only you. My hunger has been filled with love for you, Lord. I praise you because you have made me your own. You heard the cry of my soul, and you came to your creation, and brought the greatest fulfillment that only the blending of Creator and creation can bring. Lord, I yearn for your thoughts to be my thoughts, and your ways my ways. There are no words to describe the joy of your spirit living inside of me—sharing hope, giving direction, offering promise, and worshiping you. Lord, I pray that the closeness I feel with you is everlasting. I need you like I need my next breath. I lay down at night, and you are with me. I rise in the morning, and there you are. You are my constant rock and strength. Nothing can separate me from your love. Nothing. You gave me life, and you are my life. I am wonderfully made from inside out, and that is my miracle. 

What about you?  Whatever you may face today, remember that you are His miracle. You did not just happen. He has a plan for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Get Off Your Fence

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NIV).

Do you have an area of your life where you sit on a fence because you are afraid to make a commitment or afraid the cost of commitment might be too great? Perhaps you regard your fence as a place of safety, but it is not. You sit on the fence because not sitting on the fence means that you must make a decision one way or the other. If you get off the fence, you will be forced to commit to something. You will either believe or not believe. You will either have faith or not have faith. You will either accept or reject. You are afraid to commit one way because you might be wrong. On the other hand you are afraid to commit the other way, because you might be wrong. So you sit on the fence because you presume it is easier and safer than letting go of it. It is not easier and it is not safer. It has taken a lot of energy to keep yourself on that fence. You may think your fence of non-commitment is safe, but it is really a place of bondage. What you might not realize is that staying on the fence is really a choice. It is a choice to remain in bondage instead of discovering the freedom found in letting go of your fence of false security and trusting God.

By sitting on that fence of non-commitment, you have chosen death. All it does is keep you in prison without any hope of rescue. You have to risk in order to believe. "Now the Lord is the Spirit,” Paul imparts, “and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NIV). The Holy Spirit will liberate you from your fence, but you must be willing. You must choose to let go of its false protection, and make a commitment to believe in His faithfulness. The fence does not protect you. It is a place where non-commitment will destroy what little faith you have.

Before his death Moses spoke to the Israelites and instructed them to choose prosperity and life instead of destruction and death (Deuteronomy 30:11-15). They had remained on their fence afraid to go into their promised land, but now was the time for them to choose. Not stepping out on faith to claim their promise was choosing death over life. Choosing to get off their fence and move into their promise was going to cost them something. They would have to overcome the barriers to their promise. Letting go of your fence means that you must face your own giants. But you do not face them alone. Just as the Israelites moved forward in faith with God's protection, so will you. Getting off the fence does not mean you will fail. It means that you have chosen to trust Him and His promises. It means you have risked in order to believe. You have chosen life.

Your promised land waits. It is a land where walking by faith in God's faithfulness is all that you need. It is a land where you face the unknown with the assurance that all is well in His protection and providence. So let go of your fence, and choose life. He will not fail you. He will carry you through pain, fear, and doubt to your own promised land because you have chosen to believe Him. Sacrifice your fence, and trust in Jesus Christ who sacrificed all for you. “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). Get off the fence and trust Him so you can live.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Hope and a Future

“You are not alone, my child. I know the plans I have for you—plans to prosper you and not harm you—plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I am with you when no one understands—when no one grasps the depth of your heart. I understand. I know you. Don't think about what might lie ahead or what tomorrow holds. Today is enough for you. Your faith is precious, and it cost my life. I will not sacrifice your heart. You know me. You love with my love, and follow my heart. Your life is in my hand. Your future is safe and secure in me. No weapon that forms against you will succeed. No problem will be too great or horrible for you to handle. You will rise above whatever might come because you trust me. You seek me. You learn from me. You take my Word, and it is your very life. No matter what may happen—no matter how alone you feel—you are secure in me. I am your mighty defense—your fortress—your strong tower, and I will never leave you or forsake you. Believe me and not just believe in me. I have loved you with my everlasting love, and nothing can break the faith you have in me. I have promised you. Persevere. Believe. You have a hope and a future.”

Lynn Hampton Lacher

Friday, December 23, 2016

Just Believe

“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:30, 31, 35-38a, NIV).

When Gabriel visited Mary he found a girl whose heart was full of faith, and ready to believe God’s promise that she would conceive and give birth to the son of God. Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias, the Priest, had earlier been visited by Gabriel and informed that his barren wife would have a baby. Zacharias was a man of the law, and supposedly attuned to God’s voice, but he had trouble believing God’s messenger (Luke 1:13-18). Compare Mary’s faith to that of Zacharias. When Gabriel explained how God would use her, Mary was humbled by God’s miraculous promise. She just believed. Mary, an ordinary village girl, had more faith to believe in the impossible than a priest who claimed to know God intimately. Zacharias’ faith had given way to pride.

Sometimes it is easier for a person fresh to the love of Jesus to exhibit greater faith to believe than a person with years of religious experience who has forgotten the miracle of his own changed heart. Mary’s innocent faith believed in the impossible. It was uncompromised by the religious attitudes of man or the human explanations of Pharisees. Her faith needed no explanation for Gabriel’s miraculous words. Mary did not analyze what she had heard. She did not ask Gabriel to give her time to consider what she had been told. She did not need to ask the opinion of someone else with more spiritual experience—like a Zacharias.

Is your heart full of Mary’s kind of innocent faith or have years of a Zacharias’ kind of religious tradition dulled its luster? God desires your heart to be as Mary’s—easily moved by words of the Holy Spirit. God needs no explanation. He needs no human reasoning. He just needs you to believe when He speaks. Don’t be blinded like Zacharias. Just believe and cry out as Mary for His purpose to be fulfilled in you. No words from God will ever fail.
Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Waiting in His Power

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power. They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]” (Isaiah 40:31, AMP).

What an incredible verse! And what an encouraging promise! If I wait on the Lord, He will renew my strength, and I will gain new power. Even if I am tired and weary, I can find—expect—look for—and hope in Him. I get into all kinds of trouble when I attempt to hurry ahead of God and try to move my own mountains. Nothing lasting can be accomplished in my own strength. In fact I can make a real mess of a situation if I don't wait on Him. His timing is perfect. Mine isn't. His thoughts and ways are perfect. Mine aren't. Waiting on the Lord is necessary for my spiritual growth. Patience is a quality that He cultivates, and rewards.

Anytime I run ahead of the Lord, I create a mess. Anytime I trust my own strength, I discover problems and even create problems that would have never happened if I had waited on God. When I seek the Lord for His strength and His guidance, I receive His direction and anointing to move in His power—or to wait in His power. I stand—every spiritual muscle within me coiled tightly in His power—ready to spring into action when He calls. I become an instrument to be shaped by His Hand instead of trying to mold myself on the potter's wheel.

Do I want new strength and renewed power? If I spend intimate daily time with the Lord praying, studying the Word, and listening for His voice, I shall know what He desires and when He desires it. No more running ahead of Him—no more walking behind Him—He becomes the power living within me that claims and steers my life. Whether I move ahead or wait on Him, it will be in His purpose and strength. Whatever He asks I will do with all my heart, mind, and spirit. Where He leads I will follow. I will wait expectantly, or I will move without hesitation. I will respond as He calls. And I will be lifted continually—like on wings of eagles—to bask in the intimacy of His presence. There I will be renewed and empowered again and again to wait and to hope for what He wishes for my life.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

You Call Me

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Galatians 5:25, NLT).

Lord, you call me to walk by faith and not what I see. You tell me to trust you—to believe that no matter what my eyes see or ears hear that you are with me when I step out into the unknown to follow you. Teach me what it means to live by your Spirit and to follow your leading in every part of my life. I will follow as you lead for I know that it is in the depths of this great unknown that I find you. I launch out into the depths of your grace realizing that although my feet may fail there is no failure in your purpose. Your unknown is the most certain thing I have ever known.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine 

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

(“Oceans—Where Feet May Fail” composed by Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, and Salomon Ligthelm)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I Believe

After all the hurried decorating, shopping, visiting, wrapping presents, and holiday singing, we wait in joyful anticipation for the true promise of Christmas. Bells have rung out their message of peace while we have busied ourselves with the fun of the season. The world has rushed and hurried with its busy celebration. We have sung Christmas songs, and even carols—their words have barely touched our hearts. But now it is time. With the last caroler's fading voice, and the last bell's echoing resonance, all is quiet with hope of what this season really means. We wait breathlessly for the promise of hope for the world. 

Jesus is the promise of hope born to change the world with the gift of His life for ours. In one miraculous moment in time Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into our world as an innocent child. He grew in God's wisdom and understanding. Completely human and also completely God, He understood our pain and suffering. Yet He also knew the gift of His life on a cross for our sin was the only way we could be free. Without hesitation He gave His life for us. He who knew no sin carried the weight of our sin to the cross, and there it was crucified forever. I stand in awe of His sacrifice and love for us. The most amazing thing is that He still lives. He did not remain in the tomb. He was resurrected into new life, and because of His gift I also can receive that new life. He is my Christmas promise that the old is gone, and I am reborn in His love.

Lord God, I am in awe of such amazing lovethat someone would actually give his life for me. I am humbled by who you are, and all that I am not. My mind cannot understand or fathom the depths of this kind of love, but my heart, mind, and spirit cries out for it—all of me cries out for its healing. You came into the world to rescue me from all my failures, my sins, my hurts, my pains, and my suffering. I long to know the freedom of your promise. I long to know your love beating inside my heart. Come Lord, Jesus, into my life and bring the peace and joy of your Christmas promise. I believe.

Lynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, December 19, 2016

Be Filled

“When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them” (Acts 2:1-4, The Message).

Like a mighty rushing wind, the Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost. The Word supplies a scriptural basis for what the disciples received in Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33. In these parallel Gospel passages, John the Baptist reveals a baptism that follows Christ’s forgiveness of sin. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11, NIV). Jesus told his disciples what to do following His ascension. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1: 4-5, NIV).

What is this gift—this baptism of the Holy Spirit—the “fire” foretold by John the Baptist and promised by Jesus? It was without question the Holy Spirit which came on the day of Pentecost. Especially poignant is Jesus’ promise! “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13, NIV). “If you believe,” Jesus promises, “you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" (Matthew 21:22, NIV).

The Holy Spirit fills a believer who is spiritually starved for the very character of Jesus—who continually yearns for that overwhelming hunger to be filled—who cries out for His very nature to live within. The Holy Spirit fills a believer that yearns for His presence more than His next breath—who believes that without Him there is no purpose to life. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Paul wrote (Ephesians 5:18). This command reveals a crucial urgency and need for each believer to have His indwelling presence. “Be filled” is present progressive which means it is something that is on-going. Receiving the Holy Spirit does not just happen one time. It is continual—pouring into you and out of you like rivers of living water. At the same time “be filled” is in the passive voice. This shows that the subject of the verb (the believer) is not being filled by his own means, but is being filled by the means of another. Only God fills a life that cries out in its weakness—only He fills a life that lies powerless without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Only He fills that emptiness where joy is fleeting. Only He brings instant peace in the midst of sudden pain. Only He lives in you fully—in body, mind, and spirit—in depths that you never thought possible.

Fall in love with your Creator, your Holy Father who wants the best for you, and sees the best in you—the one who loves you continually. He is the one who died for you—the one who rose from the dead so that you might walk in newness of life—the one who redeems the pain of the past and brings direction to your present—the one who imparts supernatural peace and joy—the one who baptizes with Holy fire. Place upon His altar every preconceived notion. Don’t fear His presence or whatever He wishes to impart. Neither inform Him of what you think you need. Become nothing so He can become all.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2: 9-10, NIV). Do you want to know His power—His direction—His purpose?  He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Live a sold-out life for Him. Do as He directs. Obedience to God is necessary to continually receive the Holy Spirit. Be absolutely surrendered for anything He asks (Acts 5:32). Praise Him for what you are going to receive (Hebrews 11:15). Praise Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit He has promised. The Word says that we have not because we don’t ask (James 4:2b). Ask in faith—believing. He commands you to be filled. Your part of being filled is absolute surrender of self—body, mind, and spirit. His part is to act upon the gift of your life. And He will.

 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Gold and Ivory Tablecloth

At Christmas time men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a miracle — not exactly. It happened to a pastor who was very young but his church was very old.

Once long ago it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit and prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood. But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down church. They felt that with paint, hammer, and faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

However late in December a severe storm whipped through the river valley and the worst blow fell on the little church — a huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess but they couldn't hide the ragged hole. The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, "Thy will be done!" But his wife wept, "Christmas is only two days away!"

That afternoon the dispirited couple attended an auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a handsome gold and ivory lace tablecloth. It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long; but it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who, today, had any use for such a thing?

There were a few halfhearted bids. Then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea. He bid it in for $6.50. He carried the cloth back to the church and tacked it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel. It was a great triumph. Happily he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.

Just before noon on the day of Christmas Eve as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop. "The bus won't be here for 40 minutes!" he called and invited her into the church to get warm. She told him that she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town but she had been turned down. A war refugee, her English was imperfect.

The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while she dropped her head and prayed. She looked up as the pastor began to adjust the great gold and ivory cloth across the hole. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel. She looked at the tablecloth. The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage but she didn't seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and rubbed it between her fingers. "It is mine!" she said. "It is my banquet cloth!" She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it. "My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it."

For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese and that she and her husband had opposed the Nazis and decided to leave the country. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border. She never saw him again. Later she heard that he had died in a concentration camp. "I have always felt that it was my fault — to leave without him," she said. "Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment!" The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the cloth with her. She refused. Then she went away.

As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the cloth was going to be a great success. It had been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight. After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him that the church looked beautiful. One gentle-faced middle-aged man — he was the local clock-and-watch repairman — looked rather puzzled. "It is strange," he said in his soft accent. "Many years ago my wife — God rest her — and I owned such a cloth. In our home in Vienna, my wife put it on the table" — and here he smiled — "only when the bishop came to dinner."

The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in church earlier that day. The startled jeweler clutched the pastor's arm. "Can it be? Does she live?"

Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed her. Then in the pastor's car they started for the city. And as Christmas Day was born, this man and his wife who had been separated through so many saddened Yule tides were reunited.

To all who hear this story, the joyful purpose of the storm that had knocked a hole in the wall of the church was now quite clear. Of course, people said it was a miracle; but I think you will agree it was the season for it!

·       A true story shared by Howard C. Schade, pastor of the First Reformed Church in Nyack, New York, in the December 1954 edition of Reader's Digest.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Give Him All of Your Heart

Mary, a young girl, was called by God for a great work. The angel, Gabriel, came to her and said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Mary trembled at the news, but she replied, “I am the Lord's servant.”  (Luke 1:30-38)

Mary had a heart to obey. She never walked away from God's calling. Don't walk away from what God has called you to do for the sake of time or personal need or even fear. The desire of His heart is for you to know Him completely—to be fulfilled in your calling—to have a pliable heart—to know the power of His presence and to receive what He has promised. The promise is realized when you allow Him to work in your life, and you give Him the gift of an obedient heart. What God promised Mary was true. What God has promised you is true, and He will bring it to pass in His time.

Jesus is the reason for this wonderful season. Christ was born for you and me, and He died for us. His gift came at the greatest cost—His pure life for our sinful one—His perfect love for our rejection—His pain for our pride. And what will it cost us? A repentant, and obedient heart. His will instead of our own. Perhaps you were once wandering, longing to be used by the Lord, longing to be fulfilled in His purpose. The Holy Spirit opened a door, and you walked through it, and the joy of His promise and His purpose became your sustenance. His purpose—His will is your anchor which sustains through all the trials and hardships of life. Never let go of it.

Have you allowed the precious gift of your calling to become second place? Have you let go of it for the sake of your own personal need or maybe even because of fear? There is no joy in placing your desire before His calling. I have experienced this. At the time my decision seemed so right, because my need seemed so great, but I learned later I had lost so much of what He had promised. And my greatest loss was in failing Him. I lost so much believing I was making the best decision, when all He wanted was for me to allow Him to be in control. He just wanted my obedient heart. He longed for me to trust Him to bring about what He had promised. What it cost at the time was the loss of His presence. I pray to never lose that again.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT). Mary realized the omnipotence of a great God, and the importance of what He asked. She realized that He was higher in every way than she could ever be—that His purpose and vision in every way surpassed her own.

Give Him the gift of an obedient heart this Christmas. Give Him all of you. That special promise He has brought into your life will be fulfilled in His time. 

 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Greatest is Love

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Faith, hope, and love are paramount in my life. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Without hope it is hard to believe God can be trusted to keep His promises (Hebrews 10:23). Without love I will not see beyond my own selfishness. I will just be loud and obtrusive with no sensitivity to the feelings of others (1 Corinthians 13:1). Faith, hope, and love flourish together. They are essential and necessary for each one’s greatest purpose. But one is the greatest, and that is love.

If I have the gift of prophecy and understand God’s higher ways—if I possess all knowledge and have a faith that can move mountains, but don’t love others, I am nothing. If I unselfishly give everything I have to the poor and in my boasting don’t love others, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is never jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It does not get irritated, and keeps no record of when it is wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices when the truth wins. Love always perseveres and never gives up; it never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance of life (1 Corinthians 13:2-7).

One day prophecy—speaking in unknown languages—special knowledge—and all the gifts that impart His power will become useless. Love outlasts all of these. It endures forever! Right now what I know and understand is partial and incomplete. Prophecy can’t reveal all of His purpose. The knowledge that the spiritual gifts grant is only partial, and don’t reveal His whole picture. The day when He returns to complete the picture is the day these partial things mean nothing. What will remain be will my faith, hope, and love He has perfected in me (1 Corinthians 13:7-10).

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Spiritually I am still so much a child—not grasping the deeper understanding that He will bring when His time comes. Now I only see things imperfectly—like puzzling reflections in a mirror. I put away my childish understanding and wait for that moment I will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then one day I will know everything completely. I will understand the depths of His love from His perspective and not my own limited one. Faith, hope, and love are the things which will carry me from my partial understanding of His purpose in this world now into the completed revelation of His picture in the next (1 Corinthians 13:11-12). It is His love on Calvary which has sealed the promise. The greatest is love.

Lynn Hampton Lacher

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Something about His Name

I remember the first time that I was captivated by the chorus “There’s Just Something about That Name”.  It was that long ago moment—sometime in the 1970s—when I popped my new 8-track in and heard the version my sister’s group had recorded. Not only was the harmony exquisite, but the message was powerful. Through many years the memories that chorus has imparted have been wonderful. But not only the memories that recording inspires are wonderful. So is the name. There is something about Jesus’ name.

Sunday our pastor spoke about the names of Jesus revealed in Isaiah 9:6. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace” (NLT). These names reveal His nature, His wisdom, His power, His promise, and His peace. They reveal who He is to us— and how much He loves us.

As our Wonderful Counselor He brings an incredible joy that surpasses earthly happiness. His joy carries us through heartbreak and pain. He replaces what is dark in our lives with the light of His presence. He speaks abundant life to the death that despair and defeat impart. We can take our concerns and pain of our heart to Him, and He comforts us. His Word guides and counsels us so that we will discover our greatest potential. Through His wisdom we receive direction, and we receive purpose. When we follow what He desires we not only experience the strength that His joy brings. We live in the purpose He has designed for us. And with His purpose comes fulfillment that no earthly person, place, or thing can offer.

As our Mighty God He brings power to carry us safely through (and sometimes miraculously above) the storms of life. The disasters that come against us become as nothing when met with His power. The difficulties that overwhelm are reduced to miniscule issues when He acts. His ways are higher than ours. Often that is forgotten when we are tormented by thoughts of might be, could be, or what if. Keeping our thoughts upon Him discourages fear and allows His peace to settle our minds. Yes, He is our Prince of Peace—the only one who has the power to destroy disillusionment and the dread upon which we often dwell.  His perfect peace is found when we focus upon Him and not upon our problems. Then we can think of what is uplifting and promising, and trust God to take care of the issues we face.

Our Everlasting Father will never leave us or forsake us. When we give Him full access to our life—when we allow Him to take care of what we are unable to fix—when we long for Him to set us free from our fears—that is when we depend upon Him and need His guidance. We need to understand His Word so we can trust His ways that we do not always understand. When we seek His instruction we intentionally become less so that He can become more. As our father He disciplines us when sin claims our heart so that we can know forgiveness and experience the joy of His freedom. He also continually prunes our selfish hearts to love beyond ourselves—to learn the joy of giving ourselves away. He is our Everlasting Father who grounds us in truth and holds us secure in His promise.

He is abundance of life—joy—peace. He promises beyond what our minds can fathom. Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. There is something about His name.

Lynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, December 12, 2016

Worth the Risk

"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).

Are you ever consumed by fear? Struggling with little hope? This verse in Isaiah promises you that even though you may feel afraid and deserted, you aren't. You can't trust your feelings. They will often betray you. But you can trust what God says in His Word. He won't betray you. His truth is 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. You will discover my strength to carry you.”

Faith asks you to take a risk—to trust in something beyond your own understanding. It will cost you to trust in what 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 trust Him and step out in faith. God promises to uphold and strengthen you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT). Don't ever allow fear to keep you from stepping out in faith. 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.” If you move forward in faith and persevere to do His will, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36). Don't just think about what might happen if you walk in faith. Allow Him to show you He is worth the risk.

 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Christmas Reach for Him

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, KJV).

Unto us a child is born—but not just any child! He is a child born to save the world. He is a child born to save you and me. He is a child born to change our hearts. This child speaks hope where the world speaks discouragement. This child gives joy where the world offers despair. ”He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:3a, NLT).This child gives what the world can never give—peace in the heart of mankind.

Sin separates us from peace that our hearts long to know. Jesus Christ came into the world to lay down his life for our sin. He was not forced to give up His life, but He gave it freely for you and me. Because of His obedient and sacrificial love for us sin was crucified at Calvary. We can go into the presence of an almighty God and find help in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). There is hope in the midst of discouragement and despair. There is the promise of eternal life, joy, and peace. Jesus’ name is the name above all other names. He is the one who is your answer.

Are you struggling with despair and hopelessness? This Christmas ask Him into your heart, and experience His peace which exceeds anything your mind can fathom. His peace will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). His joy will claim you. His purpose will guide you. His power will sustain you. His promise will fill you. He offers a beautiful life for the ashes of a burned-out one. He offers a life of joyous blessing and praise instead of a heart of despair. He offers hope and an abundant life. Just invite Him into your life. Surrender what has separated you from His love. Surrender all that has burdened you. Give it all up so you can know His love and His peace. This Christmas reach for Him. He always reaches for you.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Grace's Freedom

The only true freedom I shall ever know is found in Jesus Christ. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36, KJV). Other versions say that I shall be free “through and through”. If He has freed me from sin, then I am liberated through and through. It is a thorough work―not a partial one. His work in me will always be one that calls for obedience and perseverance. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4, NASV). Continually growing in His grace, I will not lack. What is true in the spiritual realm will be true in the physical. Sin will no longer be my master because I have been set free by His grace (Romans 6:14). 

“Sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it is sin versus grace, grace wins hands down” (Romans 5:20b, MSG). “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?  Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it” (Romans 6:1-2, NLT)?  Freedom from sin is completely found in the redemptive work of His grace. His power gives me everything I need to live a godly life, and I discover freedom by growing in my knowledge of Him. In His Word He has given his very great and precious promises so that I might lead a righteous life and stand against temptation—so that I might be a part of His holiness (John 8:32, 2 Peter 1:3). The spiritual maturity to stand against sin comes through perseverance to study and apply His Word, through prayer, and through the power of His indwelling Spirit. 

His grace shall always prevail against any temptation or threat or circumstance. It is my choice to live an obedient and holy life, and His grace empowers my choice. There will always be battles and adversity, but by His grace I shall prevail through any temptation that comes my way.  Broken and spilled out for me, I am completely healed by His obedience at Calvary. I will stand strong in the miracle of His grace because I have been set free by His love that knew no limits.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You Touched Me

Earlier I almost touched your garment. You were as close as my next breath. Then suddenly the moment was gone. Why did I retreat? Lord, I need the closeness of your presence—that moment when you claim all of me. I have seen your glory in the sanctuary. I have known it in suffering and joy, and I know that is through pain that I discover your strength to stand strong. But in this moment I need you to heal me. I realize pain can spur greater spiritual growth, but this pain has overwhelmed me. I need to sense that miraculous moment when you lift if from me. My soul stretches beyond my brokenness to reach for you. Finding the life-line of your garment I hold on tightly. And in that one act of faith your life becomes my life. Flowing— healing—redeeming—your glory is within me. You are within me—praying my need. Pain which has consumed my heart—my life—is no more! Pain, which had only promised death, has yielded to your life! I am free! No words can share the wonder of this gift. I touched the hem of your garment, and you touched me.

Matthew 9:19-21                                       

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Love Beyond Your Need

“He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6b, NIV).

Christmas can be a lonely time for those who have lost a loved one. It can be a sad time for those who do not have a loving family. It can be a lonesome time for those who have no one in their lives to encourage them and offer hope. Even if you are in a loving church that brings joy to your life, Christmas can still be a sad time when those church friends gather with their own families. The season brings joy to so many, but it is also the time of year when so many feel alone. 

If you are one who has a loving family and friends, then share your Christmas with others who don't. Open your heart to others who have no one this season. Love with the love He has given you. There is someone in your life who feels deserted. There is someone who needs a touch from a loving hand. There is someone who needs to not only hear the words “he will never leave you or forsake you,” but to experience them. If you are one who feels alone, remember the greatest promise that offers hope. You are never really alone. The Lord will never leave you. He will never forsake you or abandon you. When it seems the rest of the world is too busy for you, He is not. When your own family does not love like it should, He does. When you feel rejected, you are not. If you have asked Him into your heart, He is your Savior, and you are not alone. 

Love beyond your need. Give because you, too, are needy. Whether you are alone or not, Jesus calls you to reach beyond yourself—to love others with His love that knew no boundaries. If you have any encouragement from knowing Jesus Christ—if you have any comfort from His love— reach out with tenderness and compassion. Do nothing out of selfishness. With humility place others above yourself, and love with the passion with which He loves you (Philippians 2:1-4). Give yourself away expecting nothing in return. Share your heart and experience the joy found in dying to self. Experience the promise of abundance in a heart that He alone fills. Never forsaken—ever forgotten—never alone you are fulfilled.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, December 5, 2016

Go for the Gold

It is interesting what a person will do or not do knowing that time is short. Andy had started my vocational rehab computer class all starry-eyed over the promise of a job on completion. After squandering class time that might have created in him the ability to develop good work habits, Andy suddenly decided to make a last minute effort, believing it would produce good results. Two weeks into his promised job he discovered he couldn’t handle its requirements.

Some roads that people travel are easier than others; some roads turn out to be incredibly difficult. If you are going to do well, you must develop good character traits or just like Andy face the prospect of failure. To each believer Jesus says, “Don’t waste the time I have given you. Develop character traits that will carry you to the end.”  Without allowing the Holy Spirit to develop these traits life will defeat you. “God’s divine power,” Peter counsels, “has given you everything you need for life and godliness through your knowledge of him who has called you. He has given you great and precious promises, so that you may become more like Him. He wishes to raise you above the things in this life that can destroy you” (2 Peter: 1:3-4).

It is absolutely possible to age gracefully in whatever season you find yourself. Whatever difficulty you face can spur you upward, but you must decide for it to make you stronger. “For this very reason,” Peter continues, “make every effort to add to your faith goodness. Add to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge self-control. From self-control discover perseverance, and from perseverance you will find godliness. Godliness brings brotherly kindness, and brotherly kindness brings love” (2 Peter 1:5-7). Make every effort to add these virtues!  Not just attempt, and then when it gets too difficult give up. You decide to add them. God provides the power that spurs spiritual growth and transforms your life. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,” Peter promises, “ they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8). 

Perseverance to grow spiritually is a decision God honors by bestowing His power so it might be accomplished. It is learned through daily discipline that builds your faith. Do you want to be productive for His kingdom? Do you wish your love of Jesus to draw others? Each one of these virtues must be added in your life. One upon one they empower you—teaching you to reach heavenward for God’s best.  Go for the gold. With your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, you can run well the race that is set before you (Hebrews 12:2-3). It is His promise.

copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

No Longer An Outcast

    “For I will restore  heal th to you and  heal  you of your wounds,” says the  Lord , “because they called you an  outcast   saying:  “Th...