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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Never Forget



“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, becamehuman! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion (Philippians 2:5-8, MSG)

Jesus Christ came to serve. He regarded himself as being no greater than anyone else, and He gave His life for you and me. With all the power of the universe at His disposal He had a servant's heart. We are called to have a servant’s heart, and to serve with His humility of heart. He surrendered to the will of His Father in all things. Our inability to surrender control to God chokes out our relationship with Him. Never forget that we have no life in Christ without surrender. Never forget that any ministry we have does not belong to us. Our life belongs to Him. Our allegiance to Him was paid for with the greatest price. He lived the greatest humility.

If a person feels the need to declare his humility, then humility is not really a part of his life. True humility is a powerful tool. It is revealed in attitude and action from a yielded heart. Humility reveals that surrender has taken place. There is no “me”. There is only His love. “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ,” Paul wrote, “if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:1-4, MSG).

Put self aside. Give up our own way. We are called to humble ourselves under the His hand, and He will exalt us in His time. Humility is revealed in self-control. “Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand,” Paul wrote in Philippians 4:5 (ASV). Forbearance is self-control. Self-control as a fruit of the Spirit is when we surrender and allow God to have control. We exercise that self-control when we surrender to Him. He controls us with His power because we have yielded our will to His. The NLT version of Philippians 4:5 reads, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”  Forbearance. Self-control. Gentleness. The Lord is near—ready to move in our life when He desires. Gentleness is Holy Spirit power in control. His power is available when needed. Held in check when He says wait. Unleashed when He calls it forth.

Never forget that we belong to Him, and it is only by His mercy and grace that we have found new life. Never forget to always become less so that He can be more. Never forget His power in life is His gift, and it is only at its greatest when all of self is surrendered to Him. Never forget.

(copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Strongholds Fall




“One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty, and pull down the stronghold in which they trust” (Proverbs 21:22, NIV).


Have you ever faced a wall that seems impenetrable? You can't find a weakness in its structure. Each time you think you have found a way to break through, the wall just reinforces itself. No matter what you try, you fail. You are about to give up, but then you admit that you haven't asked God for His help and guidance. You have stubbornly tried to bring that wall down by yourself. Without His wisdom to reveal the weakness of that wall, you can't discover the one thing that will bring it down. With God's wisdom you can leave that whole wall in ruins.


Do you have a wall in your life that keeps you from freedom in Christ? Do you have a stronghold that holds you fast? Perhaps there is something in your life where you have unwisely and maybe even unwittingly placed your trust. Maybe you can’t quite identify what causes your feelings of bondage. You need God's wisdom to identity and conquer what you alone have no power to address. “If any of you lacks wisdom,” James writes, “you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5, NIV). If you ask God for His wisdom He bestows it abundantly without restraint. With His wisdom you can identify, address, and conquer that very thing where you have placed your trust—the thing that has held you in bondage. With His wisdom and power you can pull down any stronghold which has claimed your trust more than God has claimed your faith.


With God’s wisdom and power you can also discern what is needed to bring down strongholds that have claimed the trust of others. With His wisdom you can have strength and Spirit-led forbearance to go against the powerful who have been deceived. BUT how can you powerfully address another person’s stronghold until you have addressed your own?  Before you find what needs to be addressed in someone else’s life, cast out what is in your own. Seek God's wisdom and admit your stronghold—that wall which keeps you from His fullness. When you have His wisdom and have wisely studied that wall's strength, you will find the weakness in its structure which, when addressed, will pull down the whole wall. Allow the Holy Spirit to have control and guide you, and the wall no longer is impenetrable. That stronghold no longer has a greater strength than your God who strengthens you. His wisdom has found the crack in its structure, and it will fall. When your wall is down you have experienced His power that brings down strongholds. You understand freedom in a way you never thought possible. You walk in His power and His wisdom and have insight to help others address their own walls and discover freedom. The Kingdom of God is found in your heart. This is where your journey of faith begins and where it ends—in Him.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Friday, January 27, 2017

My Refuge and My Banner



“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go” (Isaiah 91:9-11, NLT).

God is my refuge and sanctuary—a place of safety where I receive strength and restoration. He is my shelter from all that comes against me and attempts to destroy my faith. I call on His great name, Jehovah Nissi, my Almighty God who protects and empowers me in the heat of battle.

“Jehovah” in conjunction with “Nissi” is mentioned only once in the Old Testament, and that is in Exodus 17. “Nissi” is derived from the word “nes”, which means “banner” in Hebrew. In Exodus 17:15, Moses, following his defeat of the Amalekites, erects an altar to “Jehovah Nissi”. The word “nes” can be demonstrated with the example of a flag mounted on a pole as a focal point in battle. In Old Testament history (and throughout history) opponents in war flew their own flag on their front lines. This focal point reminded soldiers of their purpose. When they focused their mind to win, they received encouragement that their efforts would not be in vain. This is what God “Jehovah Nissi” is to us. When I surrender my life and worship Him in spirit and in truth, He is my focal point, my “banner”, on which I can focus my mind and all my thoughts, strength, hope, and belief. Isaiah wrote of God as this “banner”. “You guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You” (Isaiah 26:3, AMP).

In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) the word “nissi” is translated as “refuge”. When I focus all that I am―all that I believe―all that I live―all of my being on His unfailing standard, character, promise, and purpose, then He is my refuge in whatever comes before me. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust” (Psalm 91:1-2, AMP). He is my “banner”—the focus in my life which imparts strength and purpose. He is my refuge and my fortress in the heat of battle. He is the power to stand against all evil. When I put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), no weapon succeeds against me.


“So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]” (Isaiah 26:4, AMP). When He is my focus I commit myself to Him and allow Him to direct my life. I confidently trust in His constant and unchanging character. I find His place of healing and restoration, and I receive strength. Psalm 91:11 promises that no plague will come near my home. When He is my center—my home, I am surrendered for His purpose. I am surrounded by His angels. No evil can come against me when I am focused in spirt, soul, and body on my Savior, Jehovah Nissi.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

And Then Comes Joy



“You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy” (1 Peter 1:8, NLT).

I love my Savior, Jesus Christ even though I have never seen Him face to face. I know He is with me in each moment of pain, and I feel His encouragement and peace when my heart is broken. He lives in my heart and that makes my life safe from all that comes against me. I may not see Him with my eyes, yet I trust Him with my whole being. I seek His wisdom, and He graciously imparts His Word and its message to me. He is my peace and my joy when life happens—He is my rock. He is my life.

This verse in 1 Peter imparts the truth that if I love Jesus Christ with all my being and if I trust Him even though I can't see Him, then I rejoice with a glorious and inexpressible joy. For years I loved and trusted Him with all my being, but this promise of joy eluded me. At one time it was beyond what my mind and heart could conceive.

Over thirty years ago I discovered in a book by Catherine Marshall that there was something more I needed in my life. She wrote of a joy that could be mine through choosing Him as Lord of all of me. In choosing to live a sanctified life and seeking His wisdom I was obediently preparing my life for this promise of joy. God asked me if I hungered enough for the glory He had for me. He said if I was hungry enough He would fill me with all of Himself.  But I must surrender and choose Him above all else—to be my center—to be my deliverer—to be my healer—to be my strength—to be my purpose. Desperately starved for His joy one evening in Vicksburg, Mississippi I chose Him to be Lord of every part of my life. I invited the Holy Spirit to become in me all that I was incapable of being—to fill me to overflowing with His grace. At first I felt fear because I knew I was asking an all-powerful God to live in me in a way I had never experienced, and I knew it called for surrender of every part of myself. But fear couldn’t stand in the face of faith. I began to praise Him. He washed me in His love, and His presence encircled me. He captured me completely as His own. Filled with a joy I couldn’t express with mere words, I rejoiced in Him. He brought strength I so desperately needed to walk in His Spirit above the pain that life inflicts. I was free from the power of the past to claim my mind—free from what had stood between me and His overwhelming love. He delivered me from myself. His promise that night was joy. I chose Him and I chose joy.

There is a joy that is so deep and so complete that it can’t be explained. There are no words. There is just Him. Everyday I still choose Him, and I still choose joy.

 (Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Forgive


“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.

You not only forgive others, but also forgive yourself. If you extend forgiveness to others you can also receive forgiveness 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). If you have repented He has forgiven you completely, and whatever separated you from His love is destroyed. The condemning guilt you feel is the enemy trying to hold you in debt. And your debt is forgiven. It is gone.

How can you forgive yourself? There are no pat answers. What I share now 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. Forgiveness is surrender. It is letting go of any right to judge. 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.

Lay it down. Today is a beginning.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Your Heart Choice



What is a heart choice? It is whatever your attitude happens to be about a circumstance, another person, yourself, God, or anything in your life. It is whatever motivates your action. It is whether you approach each day with dread or with anticipation. John Wesley believed that sin resides in the attitude of the heart. It is your heart choice—your motivation or your attitude—which speaks of life or of death. Heart choices speak of who is really in charge of your life—of who is in control.

            Just before his death Moses spoke to the Israelites and instructed them to choose prosperity and life instead of destruction and death. They were poised on the brink of the Promised Land. “Love the Lord your God! Walk in His ways,” Moses pleaded. “Keep His command” (Deuteronomy 30:15)!  Moses spoke from his own failure to obey God. He would not see that land flowing with milk and honey. 

The Lord sets before His children the same command today.  Our promised land waits. In fact we can smell its fragrance and its promise, but it is just beyond our reach. “Choose life,” the Lord pleads, “the land is waiting for you to enter and possess it!” The ability to choose life rests within your heart.

“What I command you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach,” Moses instructed. “The Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it!  Choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)!   The Word of God is alive and active. It is meant to reside within our hearts so that we might obey its instruction. Is it real in your heart?  Do you know it?

 “If your heart turns away and you are not obedient, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not receive what I have promised you” (Deuteronomy 30:18)!  The Lord wishes His children to keep their hearts and minds upon Him.  He yearns for us to reach our promised land!  Often we don’t consider the fact that the motivations and attitudes of our heart keep us from what God has promised us.

“Now choose life,” Moses pleads, “so that you and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life” (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a).  Don't ever forget that if the Lord is your life, He has promised you great and wonderful things (Jeremiah 33:3). Many times our attitude keeps us from His promise. We not only miss the promise but also His amazing peace (Philippians 4:6-7). “Believe in me instead of what you have always thought yourself to be!” the Lord proclaims. “Trade the positive for the negative and see blessing! You will have surrendered your life for mine. You will have given up curse for my blessing, death for my abundant life!
(Copyright 2017 Lyynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, January 23, 2017

Attitude



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

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

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

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

Choose to handle life's problems and circumstances with a positive attitude. Determine to think and react positively to what happens. Be empowered by the Holy Spirit to act upon what you have determined will be true about your life. When you make this selfless journey—when you accept responsibility for your life—when you realize that without Him you cannot realize the heart change that brings attitude change—then you have chosen to seek the attitude of Christ. He gives you a crown of beauty for ashes and joy instead of a despairing attitude. When you humbly surrender your life for His purpose, He imparts a double portion of His spiritual blessing. Out of the ashes of death to self, arises a joy that can never be shaken.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Friday, January 20, 2017

Delight in Him



“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4, NLT).

Is it hard for you to delight in the Lord—to experience His joy? “Delight in the Lord,” the psalmist declared, “and He will give you your heart’s desire!” Do you realize that God delights in you (Psalm 149:4)?  Perhaps you feel abandoned. Others might abandon you, but God never forsakes you. If you are someone who believes God doesn’t listen or answer your cry for help, then you need to absorb the truth that He delights in you. He takes joy in you. He delights in you because you are His creation, and He died for you. That is the greatest love. That kind of love does not abandon. But we sometimes abandon that love by our thoughts and actions. Often we judge His love for us through the eyes of our own sin or through the pain of our own circumstance.

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

You can’t experience the delight of the Lord if some event or problem is so powerful that it keeps you from experiencing God's love and peace. Your overwhelming problem or issue can bring feelings of anger and bitterness toward God for allowing something to happen and then anger toward yourself for being angry at God. Confess to God that you are sorry for your anger toward him, and forgive yourself for your anger. Life happens. Events happen. Problems come. Trials are inevitable. People will hurt you. The Lord who gave His life for you hasn’t abandoned you. His power is greater in your life than that of any event or person. Don’t ever allow unforgiveness—whether toward God or toward someone else or toward yourself—to harden your heart. Humble yourself, and forgive! Forgive! Forgive!

“The Lord delights in his people,” the psalmist wrote. “He crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4, NLT). Humbly lay your life at His feet. Draw close to Him in prayer and purpose. When you humble yourself before the Lord and give up anything in your life that blocks His presence, you invite His power. When you allow the trials of life to spiritually grow you into His beautiful creation, you invite His victory. Instead of defeating you, those trials inspire you to trust Him more. “Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT). God’s power is best understood in humility. When He completely owns your heart, pride has no power. In letting go you have given Him permission to empower your life. The desires of your heart are no longer your own. They are His. And you have found delight in Him.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Change Me


“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NIV).


I am His creation. I am on a journey reaching to be more like Him. If I continually reach to be “perfect” like Him, I discover an obedience 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 presence 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. His hand presses into the clay of my mere existence and fires me in the kiln of life until l am a fine vessel, perfected for His purpose. He perfects me just as my heavenly father is perfect—one moment at a time—one heartbeat at a time.
 (Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Let Go



“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2a, NLT).

What does it mean to be changed, Lord?  I want to change, but so often I am not willing to surrender control. Sometimes I don’t even know what binds me because I have denied the Holy Spirit complete access to my life. I am in bondage unable to reach for freedom. I know the result of that bondage. Anger. Hurt. Pain. Bitterness. What does it really mean to lay all of myself down?  To let go of all of myself?  To want only you—your peace—your joy?  I long to allow you, Holy Spirit, to change my attitude—my outlook—the way I think.  I yearn to give you access to my deepest feeling, emotion, and those deep places I have held back from you. What I try to hide can never be hidden. What I try to change in my life in my own way and on my own strength can never be changed. You transform me—when I allow it. I choose to change the way that I think about anything that I face—to see each problem or person as a challenge to refine my life and not as one to defeat it. You raise me up to walk above life’s circumstances—when I allow it. You call me out into the depths of the unknown to experience greater faith. You call me out so that I rely totally on you because I have no strength of my own. You stretch me beyond myself. It may seem my breaking point, but it proves to be what triggers greater faith. You wait for that moment when I have released all that you know needs to be released. You wait for that moment when my own way and my own strength proves not to be enough. You wait with your perfect love for what I have feared in so many ways—giving up all rights to myself.

Oh, Lord. I can’t strengthen. I can’t change. I can’t fix. All I can be is yours. I let go. I breathe your promise. I breathe your peace. It is in the release of all of myself that I melt into your presence. I am clay just waiting to be molded. I cry out for your hand upon my life. I yearn to be made new in the spirit of my mind. I am ready, Lord, for those deep places which I have always held back to now belong totally to you. You own them. You own me. I have nothing to prove. I have no point to make. I rest in your grace that is sufficient. You hold me in your perfect peace because my mind continually thinks upon you. I am never alone in each thing that I give you. You are with me to strengthen and encourage. You take into yourself my heart and mind, and you come, Holy Spirit. I know your Spirit living in me. You give what I can never give myself—the greatest peace for which there is no explanation—the greatest joy which no words describe. You give me all of you when I let go.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Priceless



 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—I will pray—I will praise no matter what happens. 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 yearn to have a sacrificial attitude that manifests itself in obedience, 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 transforming power.

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. I sacrifice “fight” against circumstances that are beyond my control. By gracefully accepting the pruning of the Vinedresser's hand upon my life, I accept the lesson found in His discipleship. Learning God's lesson becomes my passion.

          The price He paid deserves my surrender, but I can never humanly count its cost. Too much mental analysis of the cost and I may retreat from the depth of inward commitment that surrender requires. Too little mental consideration of the cost and my surrender may not last. My surrender is my spirit to His. 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. In allowing God be in charge 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 that I discover the grace of His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

  What an incredible gift! God who created me gives me the freedom of choice—to love Him or not love Him. I choose Him and yield the last claim to what I want. 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.


Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, January 16, 2017

Don’t Settle—Walk on Water



“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, NIV).

Settling is not what God desires for us. If we settle for less we miss His best. This year can be a great year of growth in faith if we step out of the certainty of the place where we have settled—if we risk something new that pushes us to believe in what we can’t see. How many times have we heard that we need to move forward in Jesus Christ, and let go of the comfortable place where we have settled? We need to get out of the safety of the boat, and launch out into the depths of the unknown with Him. “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalm 42:7, NIV). The depth of the Holy Spirit calls to the depth of man and bids him, “Come. Step out of the boat, and launch out into the deep with me!” Do I long for the waves and breakers of His Spirit to sweep over me carrying me to new heights? Am I tired of just observing the power the wind of His Spirit brings to another life— tired of being one who observes instead of one who partakes? If I completely long for these unknown depths of complete surrender, I let go of all that has defined who I am. I risk believing in what He has chosen for my life. I plant and invest myself in the unknown to which He has called me.

How many of us allow our failures, pains, attitudes, and even sins that were crucified with Christ to hold us back? Christ calls us to let go of all that has defined who we have been. I must let go of what I consider the certain security of the boat. There is no security in the boat I have constructed for my life—only false hopes and dreams that offer nothing in the end. That boat is subject to the waves and storms of life. That boat can sink. But I discover when I let go of my self-constructed identity, and step out into the depths of the unknown in Christ, I am at last standing strong upon faith in Him, and not sinking into the depths of my own doubt. When I step out of that boat into what is uncertain, I am no longer the person who could not quite get things together, or a person who has been crushed by circumstance. I am no longer someone who lets feelings of rejection define who I am. I am no longer a failure or ruled by fear.  I am no longer one who needs the world to approve of me. I have found my worth in Christ. In Jesus Christ I am a new person.

In Matthew 14 Jesus addresses Peter’s fear when faced with the uncertainty of the unknown. “Jesus spoke to Peter, ‘Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.’ Peter replied, ‘Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.’ And Jesus said, ‘Come.’ Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, ‘Lord, rescue me!’ Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, ‘You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?’” (Matthew 14:27-31, CEB).  Fear holds us in our own self-constructed boat. But Jesus calls us to walk on water—to step out into the unknown with all our being focused on Him. We must not be afraid to move forward into the unknown depths of the Holy Spirit. There is freedom from all that has defined us when we leave all our doubts behind and step out in faith. When we surrender and take that first step on water—keeping our eyes upon Him, He empowers us to take another step and then another and another.  And the impossible becomes the possible—failure becomes success and defeat yields to victory.

Are you ready for the depths He has just for you? Don’t just stand on the sidelines and wonder why you aren’t moved by the wind of His Spirit. Plant yourself in Him. Be surrendered to His power and purpose. Each day step out of your boat and discover His newness of life that fosters greater faith. If you sow what little faith you have in Him, you will reap greater faith as a result. Settling will fail you. The new in Christ will never fail. Christ calls you to step out of the boat and walk on water. Launch into the depths of what has been your uncertainty. You will find it the most certain thing you have ever done. 
Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Thought

Joy is something you allow God to bring forth in your life. It is your attitude that no matter what you live through He is in control. It is your belief that nothing happens to you which isn't the concern of His heart. Sadness and defeat become joy and victory in His presence and purpose. Look to Him each day of your life. Allow Him to change and strengthen you. Allow Him control of anything to which you have clung. You never have had the answer. He has always been the answer. But you can't discover that answer if you don't surrender all of who you are for all of who He is. He is God Almighty. The Great I Am. There is no power that can stand against the beauty He can bring forth in your life.... when you say yes and let go.

Friday, January 13, 2017

COME HOME





I've never left you.

I'm the faint stirring—

That whisper against your cheek

Waking you and lingering.

I’m a prayer from long ago

A remembrance of closer times

When my heart beat as your own.

I wait in your darkest moment

And in your deepest despair

Heart longing and arms reaching

Aching to be near you once more—

Speaking softly

Yearning for you to hear

Child, I love you.

Come home.


Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Made to Soar



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

No one likes to face pain. When you live through suffering, your natural instinct is to bury the pain as deep as you can. But that is not God’s plan. What may be your natural instinct is not His. He never wastes your hurt or what you face, and He does not want you to just bury it. He longs to use the pain you experience—the things that you regret—the highs and the lows—the fears and the failures—the very things from which you want to hide—for His glory. Your pain is more than just being about you. He wants you to experience the incredible freedom that comes with the presence of His Spirit so that your healing will make a difference in the life of someone else.

Sometimes you want to hide and get away from what you face. You build a wall to protect yourself from the hurt, but building a wall doesn't protect you. It imprisons your heart. It imprisons your spirit. It imprisons healing of your own wounds and hinders God’s freedom to use you. That wall turns your heart into a heart of stone because, in closing yourself off, you have shut out His presence. But when you allow that wall of false protection to tumble down, He turns your pain into victory—not just for your benefit but so others have access to your life.

“I'll give you a new heart,” He promises, “and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). When your heart yields completely to Him it becomes one of tender spiritual flesh. It is a heart that is malleable, vulnerable, and not afraid of the pain that often accompanies healing. It is heart that is ready to face the hurt of the past or the present head-on, and allow Him freedom to do whatever is necessary. Willing to deal with whatever must be faced that heart trusts that if God has exposed the pain He is more than capable of handling all that has caused it.

What do you wish for your life?  Do you wish for your life to be real, vulnerable, and willing? Do you which to experience healing of your mind—your body—your spirit so that He can use you to bring healing to someone else?  The wall keeping your pain tightly in place keeps you from experiencing the freedom of His Spirit. Relinquish your wall. Open yourself to His purpose. Allow Him to heal, move, and use you as He desires. Pain you may experience in life is not meant to bury you. It is meant to make you soar.

Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Freedom to Forgive!



The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Matthew 18:23-28, 30, 34-35

            Not everyone deals with unforgiveness that defines their every waking moment, but some people are consumed with it. They can't offer forgiveness to others because they haven't allowed the grace of Jesus to transform their minds and soften their stony hearts. “When we fail to accept and receive God's grace and forgiveness,” David Seamands writes, “we also fail to give unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people.” When we can't forgive, we don't have healthy relationships. We end up in emotional conflicts that tear our lives apart. When we can't receive and give God's grace our lives end up in a vicious cycle of unforgiveness. It is so sad that the servant in the parable did not realize that his debt was completely canceled, and in his misunderstanding thought he still had to collect money in order to pay it off.

            What if that servant in the parable had heard his master correctly?  What if the knowledge of his new debt-free state had penetrated his mind and heart?  Joy would have seized his heart. Peace would have settled fear in his mind. The exorbitant amount owed to the master could have never been repaid any way. If only that servant had received the message that the master had wiped his slate clean! Jesus, our Master, wipes our slates clean. A miracle happens when the grace of Jesus seeps into the depths of our very being. The vicious cycle of unforgiveness ends. The unaccepted become the accepting. The unforgiven become the forgiving. The ungraced become gracious to others.  Emotional conflicts that result from hardened hearts are healed. The Holy Spirit flows reviving and healing when we don't live with the heart of a debt-collector. If the servant had received his master's forgiveness, he would have also forgiven the servant who owed him money. He would have received the grace of the master, and easily passed it on.

            When we completely allow the grace of Jesus to set us free, we are free to give His love away freely and easily with no reservations. We just love because He first loved us. However, those who refuse the forgiving grace of Jesus continue on debt-collecting like the unmerciful servant in the parable. Others “owe” them affection, love, security and affirmation, but since they feel indebted, guilty, resentful, insecure, and anxious–since they see themselves as being unforgiven and unacceptable, they become unforgiving and unaccepting.

            Has His grace totally transformed my heart to the place when I realize that I am debt-free, and that I can pass along that freedom to others? Is there someone I resent–someone I can't let off the hook? Am I willing to accept responsibility for my own life and not blame anyone else for who I am?  Or do I believe in my heart that someone caused my life to be the way that it is, and they “owe” me for what they have done to me? Do I really believe that if they had “paid” me I could have paid off what I owe?  Do I really believe that would have freed me from the debt I could never repay? What I “owe” has already been paid by the grace of Jesus Christ! I don't have to strive to pay off that which He has already paid in full.

            God offers us freedom from the debt of our sin through the sacrifice of His son. At the cross Jesus took our sins, failures, and hurts into himself so that we might be free of sin's guilt. “God took what was the worst injustice,” Seamands writes, “and turned it into the most sublime gift man has ever known: the gift of salvation.”  You can see an illustration of the complete forgiveness the cross offers in the life of Joseph who was treated so brutally and sold into slavery by his brothers. When his brothers were before Joseph needing help for their very survival, Joseph wasn't concerned about collecting a debt. He wasn't concerned about what they “owed” him.  He knew that they were going to find it hard to forgive themselves so he said, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:19-20, NLT).

            Jesus was brought to the position of the cross so He could save our lives! He has torn up our debt. We are meant to live debt-free! Where we love each other because we are loved!  Where we accept because we are accepted!  Where we grace each other because we are graced! Where, because we have freely received forgiveness, we freely give.
           Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

If You Love Him



“The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep'” (John 21:17, NIV).

Each one of us make mistakes. We fail each other unintentionally. We sometimes fail each other when trying to encourage or help each other. Caring for someone else is personal, and intimacy makes us vulnerable. It is during these times when we are vulnerable that we run the risk of being hurt. Loving and caring for someone is a risk, but it is also the greatest reward. It is in giving ourselves away that we discover more of Christ in our lives. Jesus showed this kind of sacrificial love when He gave His life for us. But sometimes in this giving ourselves away, we fail. Peter also failed. He failed Jesus the night before his death. He denied he even knew him. It was not Peter's intention to deny him. In fact, he had claimed earlier that he would never deny his Savior, but Jesus knew better. He knew Peter's human heart, and what would happen in the moment of crisis.

Have you ever failed a friend or someone who God has brought into your life?  What do you do when that happens? You ask forgiveness from the Lord and from that person, but often you can't forgive yourself for your failure. You heart is torn and broken, and you become paralyzed—unable to move forward, speak, or do anything for fear of another failure. Peter hid after denying Christ. He was unable to bear his failure. Just as Jesus did not want Peter to hide in his misery, He wants the same for you and me. He wants us free of the pain of failure so we will continue to reach out to others.

Consider Peter and his brokenness after denying His Savior three times the night before His crucifixion. It was Peter's failure to forgive himself that finally brought him to this moment where Jesus waited. Peter had hidden himself long enough. The time for healing and restoration had come. In John 21:15-18 Jesus restores Peter's brokenness from his failure by asking Peter three times if he loves Him. Three times Peter had denied Jesus, and now it is no accident that Jesus asks him three times if he loves Him. Peter faces the Master He has loved and failed. He says what is really in his heart, and with each word he reaches for forgiveness. “Lord, you know that I love you,” he says. Each time Peter answers Jesus' question of “do you love me”, Jesus says to Peter “feed my lambs—take care of my sheep—feed my sheep.” Jesus doesn't focus on Peter's failure because the failure is past. Peter has been forgiven. He instructs Peter to focus on “feeding the sheep” and not on his failure. Jesus lifts the broken man to restoration and healing.

Do you need Jesus to lift you from the bondage of failure that immobilizes you—that keeps you from living an abundant life in Him?  He waits for you. Your place of failure is not meant to be your place defeat.  He waits to make it your place of victory. Meet him there. He just asks if you love Him.

Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

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...