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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Without Expectation of Return



“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35, NLT).
           
“I love you,” I hear Him whisper in the early morning and realize that there is more. “I love you even when you act as if you don't love me. I love you even when you have cheapened my grace with selfishness and pride. I love you even though you cannot forgive. I love you in your sin. I died for that sin which separates you from my love. I died so you might be set free. I gave my life so that you would understand that my love is not just about you. My love is for everyone. I gave everything for you to know my love and to share it freely.”

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” Paul writes. “Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10, NIV). I can’t keep the love of Jesus just to myself. He didn’t just die for me. His love is all about others. His life is the greatest example of giving my life away. He gave everything for me. My love should also be completely about others. My love should honor His sacrifice, and the needs, hurts, and pain of others. His love is not about what I might want or think I need. If I honor His sacrifice and love for me, I give without expecting anything in return.

Jesus Christ was the son of God, but He did not insist on any rights. He gave up all His rights on Calvary. He put Himself before me. As Bill Snow once said, “Jesus had a non-survivalist attitude.” “Rights are where survivors go,” William Young writes, “so they don't have to work out relationships.” Life is about living out relationships, and Jesus revealed how to love others no matter how they respond in return. Christ's love is all about extending undeserved grace. He did not deserve to die for me and extend me undeserved grace, but He did. He chose to not exercise any “rights”. He chose to sacrifice His life. If I choose to honor the gift of His life by giving my own away I will discover precious truths. In giving myself away I will receive the joy His abundance. In dying to self I will learn to live victoriously and completely in Him.

Do I believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive? Do I put another person first?  Are my desires second? Do I give to another person without expecting anything in return? Does my attitude depend on how another person responds to me? Or is my attitude that of Christ? Even though He had all the power to save Himself He chose to become a sacrifice for me. One day I will stand before the Lord who gave everything for me. In that one moment the love I gave on earth will face the love of God in its revealing clarity. In that moment I will know if it was enough.

Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Monday, February 27, 2017

I Am His Responsibility



“Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever” (Psalm 37:18, NLT).

Christ paid the ultimate price for my sin. I cannot fathom His pain and His agony. I cannot fathom His loneliness and separation from His father when He who had no sin took mine. He gave all of himself so that I might be free from sin and death. I am not my own. I have been bought with the greatest price. I belong to Him. In Him I am stand innocent. I am His to love—His to guide—His to fill with grace—His to use. It might be hard to grasp that there is the deepest love that would die for me, but when I grasp it I know that all I have been is gone, and I am new.

I have always been taught that because He bought me with His life that I must serve Him—obey Him—live for Him. This is true but what I may fail to realize is that I am His responsibility. It is His responsibility to supply my every need. It is His responsibility to carry me through the hard times. When He died for me God made me personal. When I belong to Him He owns my heart and my life. My responsibility is to surrender self and allow Him to live through me. As He died for me I die daily so that He lives in me. It His responsibility to empower my surrendered life.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit,” David cried.  “You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:17, NLT). I come to Him and lay my broken spirit down. I am accepted. I am known. I am filled. I am free. He is my forever inheritance.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Stretched

When you feel stretched to the max, you really aren't. It just feels that way because it hurts. But where it hurts is where God is pruning you for greater growth and for His purpose. Your faith is not really tested until what you face pushes you past the last test of faith. You are tested and refined for the greatest abundance.... so that abundant life flows with no hesitation. "For you, O God, tested us. You refined us like silver....but you brought us to a place of abundance" (Psalm 66:10, 12).

Friday, February 24, 2017

Live Me


"The world has heard about me," He whispers. "What it needs is to know me. Do you speak about me, and then are surprised when your words have little impact? They are only words about me. They are not my words living in you. For others to know me you must live the difference I have wrought in your life. The world needs to see me in your life. It doesn't need to just hear about my power but it needs to experience it through you. It doesn't need to just hear about my peace but it needs to see it alive in your life. It needs to see your inner calm and faith no matter what your circumstances. It doesn't need to just hear about my joy, but it needs to see joy spring up from depths trust in my faithfulness to you. It doesn't need to just hear of my love and forgiveness, but it needs to experience my love through you. If you will live a surrendered and obedient life the world will see me in you. They may accept or reject me, but they will have experienced my power in you—my peace and joy in you—my forgiveness and love through you. It is never your place to save. It is only your place to live what I have done in your life. Be my vessel, and I will do the work. Live me."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Least is the Greatest



A Christian begins his new life filled with love for his Savior. His hearts burns with passion over what God has done later to experience that his inability to surrender control chokes out His relationship with the Lord. The inability to surrender to God's will and purpose stems from self and pride. You can’t have life in Jesus Christ without surrender. Your life belongs to Him. Your surrender was bought with the greatest price. What He calls you to do and share with others does not belong to you. Your calling—your ministry—your work is His. Surrender it with humility. Christ is your best example of a surrendered life. He lived the greatest humility.

 “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, became human! 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). God became human for our sake. Living a selfless obedient life he died a selfless obedient death. He regarded himself as being no greater than anyone else, and gave His life for you and me. He had a servant's heart. We are called to have a servant’s heart and to serve with His humility of heart.

True humility is a powerful tool when it is lived without being realized. 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). Love with His love. Forgive with His forgiveness. Don’t demand your own way. Become less, Paul writes, so that He can be more.

Each day is an opportunity to surrender to Him. Each opportunity to live His selfless love is ministry. Your life—your work—what you share or do all belongs to Him. It is only by His mercy and grace that you have found new life. Don’t ever forget that His power in your life is His gift that cost Him His life. And His power is only at its greatest when all of self is completely surrendered to Him. The least is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Change



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


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


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


See, I am doing a new thing!” the Lord proclaims. “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:19-21, NIV). Whatever new thing lies ahead in your lifewhatever change, He has made a way to provide exactly what is needed for your journey. He offers all the resources that you need. You are His child, and He will not forsake you or leave you. Praise Him and accept His spiritual peace. It is His perfect gift for your life–to know that in whatever change occurs, He has a plan and purpose for your life. 
 (Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Inn My Own Heart


“I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them” (Psalm 37:35-36, NLT)!

To flourish is to be successful—to prosper. One definition says it means to thrive and grow like a plant. I thrive spiritually in whatever has claimed my heart—whether it is God or the world. If the Lord has claimed my heart my native soil is the nourishment I draw from Him and His Word. He is my light and sustenance. If the world has claimed my heart my native soil is the love of self above all others. I thrive in the darkness and put down roots in my own selfishness and sin.

How many times have I looked upon the ruthlessness of others and wish they would disappear—only for nothing to change?  How many times has frustration and anger at their wickedness overshadowed my ability to see my own pettiness? Have I been so focused on the wickedness of others that I have missed what has resided within my own heart?  When I truly allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the motives of my own heart I may discover that bitterness and unforgiveness are hidden within its chambers. The anger or frustration I feel when I see others flourishing in wickedness perhaps needs to be aimed at my own heart—bringing me to a point of repentance.

Yes, I have seen the wicked and ruthless flourishing in this world.  Yes, it breaks my heart. But what breaks my heart more is my own selfishness and inability to recognize when I have allowed the wickedness and ruthlessness of others to change who I am—when I have allowed their behavior to bring me to a place of bitterness and even unforgiveness. When that happens I have not prayed for them. I have not loved them enough to bring them before His throne. When that happens I have not allowed the Holy Spirit to reveal the motives of my own heart and change my own attitude—to one of grace that shares His love without hesitation.

I see a promise in this verse in Psalm. “But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them I could not find them” (Psalm 37:36, NLT). Why are the wicked suddenly gone? Yes, perhaps God has removed them. But perhaps God has also changed my own heart—to see with His eyes—to hear with His ears—to understand with His understanding—to love with His heart.  When I have allowed Him to change the attitude of my own heart then I will see the unrealized desperation of those who have rejected His love. I will see their unrealized heart’s cry to be released from their own bondage of selfishness and sin. What is real within me then has the opportunity to become real within them. I go in love. I share in love. I see through the eyes of His grace that gave all for me. And perhaps with allowing Him to use me I can be a part of a greater amazing revelation. One day when I search for the ruthless I will not find them. His light will have come. And it will have begun in my own heart.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Known Beyond Myself



“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalms 139:1-6, NIV).

To realize that I am so greatly and so deeply known by you, Lord, goes beyond my limited human understanding! I open up my heart to you, and my soul yearns for you to continually search me. I thirst for you with an unquenchable thirst that you alone quench. You are the living God! I cannot move without you knowing it. Every step that I plan may be formed in my mind, but your Spirit directs my steps. My thoughts may not be as high as your thoughts, but you impart the wonder of yours to my heart. You know when I am at ease and when I am distraught. You know when I have the faith to move mountains, and when I need rest to be revived. You are familiar with every part of me. Before I even speak, you know what I am going to say. Because you know my heart you know if it is pained or if it rejoices. You understand me, your child, because you became one with me in your suffering. In your death you brought me forgiveness and grace. In your resurrection you brought new life. You have placed your hand upon my life. Such knowledge is beyond my understanding—too incredible. Oh, Lord, you know me better than I know myself.

Why would I ever live without hope? I have the promise of hope in you, Lord. Because you know me and created me, I am yours and you are mine. I pray right now before a word is ever spoken that my words are directed by you, Holy Spirit. I long to have a joyful heart that speaks life. You discipline me, Lord, and guide me in your direction. You chastise me when I fail, and you encourage me when I succeed. You have placed your hand upon my life, and I am always aware of your steady and unrelenting pressure. Your love and your call upon my life are too much at times to even fathom. Just to know you loved me enough to lay down your life for me—it is too incredible. Then to know you raised me to love with your heart and purpose—it is joy beyond my ability to comprehend. I give you my limited life today, because that is all I have—a limited life unfulfilled without you—a limited life needing to know that I am known beyond myself. Take my limited life, and complete me with your purpose. Take me, and never let me claim myself again.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

He Looks at the Heart



“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.' But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (I Samuel 16:6-7, NIV).

In this Scripture God has sent Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem with the instruction that He has chosen one of Jesse's sons to be the new king. Samuel looks on the outer appearance of Eliab, and immediately believes him to be God's chosen. But God lets Samuel know that no matter how Eliab might appear he is not the one. God looks upon the heart. God has chosen David, a simple shepherd boy, to be His anointed.

How many times have we looked look on someone's outer appearance, whether in looks or clothing or size or manner, and judged who they are?  Have we done as Samuel and expected God to choose someone for a purpose only to discover that our choice was not God's choice?  Have we believed we know what is going on in someone's life only for God to show us that we know nothing at all? We really do not know the depth of that person's heart. Man perceives with what his physical eyes see—what His ears hear—what his human mind determines. But God wants us to look on others with the openness of His heart and His Spirit. He wants us to see past what we perceive as fault and recognize the potential that God knows is there.

God saw promise in a shepherd boy. He saw David's heart, and knew His great potential. Not only does God see the potential in other people and does not want us to judge them; God also sees potential in us. We recognize what God sees in us when we seek what He sees in others. It is then that God's instruction “to not judge or you will also be judged” is closer to being understood. In the same way we judge others, we shall also be judged (Matthew 7:1-2).

God always sees the potential in our hearts. He wants us to see the potential in other hearts with His eyes, and not judge whether or not that potential is being accomplished. Just because He may allow us to see His potential that does not give us a right to judge it. How we measure someone else’s spirituality will also be applied to us. So what about me? Where am I? He looks into my heart, and that is where I need to always look and allow His grace to transform my life. I can only lay down my own fault. Never judging frees me to love with His heart. God has chosen me to fulfill His potential. With my surrender to His purpose His power will be realized—only as long as I remember that I am nothing more than a shepherd boy.
 (Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Flourish in Your Valley



I remember the moment many years ago when I heard a minister instruct a congregation that “God is not in your valley. He is just in your victory”. God is not only in my victory! He is also most definitely in my valley! If the Lord had not been with me in each valley I would have never survived to live in victory. The valley is our opportunity and to grow spiritually stronger through the grace of Jesus Christ. The valley reveals how much of His strength we have and whether we shall fail or make it. We do not know of what we are made until we are tested. It is in the valley where we discover who we really are and who He really is. It is in the valley that spiritual maturity has the potential to flourish.

In the midst of a trial we become weary and anxious when we don’t know what is next. “Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul wrote, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6:7, NIV). We are to pray with thanksgiving in our heart—choosing and then allowing God to be in control. No matter what our human mind perceives or analyzes we are to believe in His promise and omnipotent ability to handle what we are incapable of handling on our own. We are not to worry about anything because we are instructed to petition the Lord who not only created every molecule in this world, but also controls each one. Is He not also able to handle any problem? Thanking the Lord for His provision reveals trust in His promise and faith in His character. Thanking God brings His peace. The promise is clear. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

“You have made this too simple,” perhaps you insist. “It is not that simple.” But His direction is simple. God did not make His promise difficult. We make the valley difficult by not applying His direction in the midst of the struggle. We miss the peace of God because we try to humanly analyze each struggle instead of leaning on God to lift us above the trial or to carry us through it. Your mind can only be guarded from fear of the unknown when you praise and thank God for His faithfulness—when your thoughts dwell upon His infinite grace instead of worrying and creating potential scenarios. God knows what His accomplishing scene will be. Trust Him for it, and spiritually “analyze” His loving promise instead of humanly expanding your problem.

Be willing to endure the earthly trial for the spiritual lesson God wishes to impart. He may lift the trial or He may let it remain, but it is His decision. Seek the Lord each day and discover your burden is much lighter when you focus on the Lord instead of what is going on in your life. You will discover His supernatural peace when you give your trial to Him through prayerful petition. It is a peace that nothing in this world can offer (John 14:27), and it can only be found through the struggles of life. It is a gift from the Savior to lighten your load (Matthew 11:30).

The night before His crucifixion Jesus reminded His disciples of all the things He had instructed them “so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). Christ has overcome every problem that exists. You don't just “survive” in the valley. You “flourish” because Christ has poured living water into what might have otherwise been a desert. You have allowed Him to turn your valley into His victory.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Sunday Morning Thought


When you are devastated by someone's action you have a choice what to do with the hurt and pain that arises. If you allow that hurt to define who you are that pain immobilizes you. You find yourself in bondage to your bitterness and hate. It directs your life and consumes your waking and sleeping moments. Jesus wants you free of its control. The Holy Spirit invites you to forgive so that you might be free from its bondage. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 3:17). God does not want you in bondage to your emotional pain. You have the freedom and the power to forgive. When you choose to forgive you surrender what you believe you have a right to own. His power will enable your choice and transform your heart. “I will give you a new heart,” the Lord promises, “and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT).

Friday, February 10, 2017

I Am Yours



“I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16, NLT).

When I walk a way that I have never known—one that is unfamiliar but one you have chosen for me, Lord—I sometimes hold back. Something new is down that path. I know it is something that my human mind cannot grasp. I have been blinded to your purpose—to your heart by my own understanding. I have not leaned upon you until there is nothing left of my own desire. I have not sought your depths because of fear of losing who I am.  Everything within pushes me to step out in faith and follow you into the unknown. I hesitate because I must let go of all that has been my security. I have been secure in my own strength—in what I have perceived is my purpose. You call me to let go of the last piece of self, and reach for your hand. The moment I let go of me is the moment that I am swept into your presence. It is the moment your light shines into the darkness, and reveals your glory. You are more real to me than my next breath. I am known. I am loved. I am protected. The things that have seemed to be insurmountable are nothing. I see you—not them. I hear you—not the voices of those who speak “be rational”. They do not understand this joy—this peace—this revelation of why I live and what is before me. This pearl is for me. You will do for me as you have declared—others may not understand. You know the way that I take—you know my path. My heart is yours. I never walk alone—I am never forsaken. You have called me into the depths, and I am no longer my own. I am yours. 

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Are You a Buffer--an Intercessor?



“O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.  Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.”

The Lord has placed prayer warriors to stand guard and pray for your needs—to pray for your protection—to pray for God’s will to be completed in your life. Day and night they are called to pray and to take no rest until He has brought forth the promise and purpose He has designed. These prayer warriors are instructed to remind God again and again that you are waiting for what He has promised—for what He has purposed. They are instructed to continually pray for your life to become a praise to God's glory.

Don’t be discouraged. God has called His watchmen—His intercessors—to intercede for you. They do not pray for their own will to be manifested in your life. They do not pray for what they feel, but for what the Holy Spirit has them pray. They stand in the gap—for your protection against that which would try to destroy or discourage you. They pray because they believe in the Savior who has called them, and that He will complete His greatest worth through you.

Are you a good watchman? Be a faithful watchman and pray for those whom God brings to your heart and mind. You are their buffer—their interceder—their intercessor—before the Lord. You are their buffer of protection against which would destroy. Never give up reminding God for their need and for what He has purposed. Give God no rest until they become a praise to God's faithfulness and glory in the earth.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From Denial to Victory



“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32, NLT).

It is the night of the Last Supper. It is just a little while until Jesus shall be arrested, accused, found guilty, and crucified. He knows His time has almost arrived. The evening is emotionally charged. The disciples have just argued among themselves who will be the greatest in His kingdom, and Jesus has explained that those who think themselves the greatest shall be the least. Satan has asked to sift the disciples like wheat—to see where their real allegiance lies. Now Jesus specifically addresses Peter because He knows what Peter’s temptation will be. In His carefully chosen words Jesus reveals, by saying “when you have repented,” that He knows Peter will ultimately deny Him.

Jesus did not say that He pleaded in prayer for Peter to be delivered from temptation. Even though Jesus knew that Peter would fail Him at a coal fire He still prayed for Peter's faith not to fail. Jesus knew that in Peter's failure he would one day experience a strength of faith born of complete repentance. Jesus knew what His Father expected of His own life—to unselfishly give Himself for mankind. Just as Jesus knew what His own choice would be in the Garden of Gethsemane He also knew the choice to deny Him that Peter would make. Jesus’ choice at Calvary would offer new life, and Peter’s choice would hide from its promise. In both choices God reveals the ultimate power found in redemption—the strength and healing found in forgiveness. In Jesus’s sacrifice the power of love would wipe out the sin of the world. In Peter’s failure the power of Jesus’ love would ultimately set him free. Jesus’ words spoken by another coal fire—asking “do you love me, Peter”—would bring healing and forgiveness to his repentant heart. Jesus instruction to “feed my sheep” would inspire Peter to “strengthen his brothers” and rise from denial to victory.

The Holy Spirit knows just where the enemy will strike hard trying to tempt you. Thinking that you will never fail Him, you declare, “Lord, I will never deny you,” and then find when you fail you are traumatized by the choice you have made. Jesus also pleads in prayer for you. Just like Peter you are so overwhelmed by your own denial that you cannot move past it. You yearn so badly to be forgiven, but what you have done just seems to be too terrible. Jesus does not want you imprisoned by your failure. Just as you made a choice when you failed Him He knows that now you can also make a choice to repent. Just as He told Peter when he had repented and returned to Him that He would strengthen his brothers—He also instructs you. He asks you again and again if you also love Him. When you say “yes” He lovingly takes you to your own coal fire of failure where you are immersed in His forgiveness.  

Jesus continually prays for you to have faith that will not fail. He prays for you not to falter in your walk, but when you do He prays for you to have the faith to return in repentance to Him.  Then He prays for you to have the faith to accept His grace that forgives, and realize that where you have fallen He will now use you for His purpose. He can take your failure and bring about His glory but not just for your sake. He strengthens you so you can be used by Him to strengthen others in the faith. “Do you love me?” He asks, and when you answer “yes” He whispers “feed my sheep.”

What is Jesus praying for you? Only you and Jesus know. In the sifting process of the harsh circumstances and temptations of life choose Him and experience the power of repentance. He already knows your weakness, and now He pleads in prayer for you to be strengthened. Never be defined by your failure, but always by His prayer. Rise from denial to victory and share the life that has been so unselfishly and freely given to you.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Just As He Loves Me



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

These powerful words hit me this morning and cause me to examine the love that I believe have for others. If I love God then His love will naturally flow from my life. If I cannot love those who are in my life—no matter how they act or treat me—then I cannot love God. “I am giving you a new commandment,” Jesus said. “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34, NLT).

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

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

If I cannot forgive with His love, then how can I be forgiven? “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love,” Jesus said (Luke 7:47). Jesus showed me the greatest love. He gave His life to forgive me. His love has fully forgiven me, and I choose to love with His love. I choose to forgive any who have hurt me. I choose His love above any feeling or emotional turmoil. I choose to allow His love to transform my heart and mind. In surrender of my will to His will, I will freely share His forgiveness with the depth of purpose and heart with which He has loved me. I will love as I have been loved.
(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Contentment



No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content” (Ecclesiastes 1:8, NLT).

Self can be a dangerous thing. There is always something better or bigger. Our eyes see that there is more to be had.  Our ears hear others speak of their possessions or achievements. We strive to reach what is never enough, and become defeated because we are never satisfied. “I know what it is to be in need,” Paul wrote, “and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12, NIV).

Paul's contentment came from a surrendered heart. He had learned to surrender the things that his eyes saw and his ears heard. He had learned to surrender self and self’s never ending wish list. He didn’t need to be recognized by others for sacrificing himself for the sake of Christ. He knew where he stood in his relationship with Jesus. There was nothing to prove or show. He also trusted God in whatever circumstance he found himself. Of course he didn't want to be in prison, and he certainly didn't want to be dependent on others to provide for his needs. But, no matter what he faced, he was content. His eyes were not on what He was around him, but upon His Savior. God gave him peace, and a purpose to fulfill. Fulfilling His purpose only strengthened Paul's peace no matter what happened in his life. His incarceration could not stop him from trusting God to meet all his needs. His chains could not keep him from his purpose to write of God's great goodness. He had learned the secret of being content in every circumstance.


Our peace and contentment comes from a deep abiding trust in God. When our circumstances are good, we might “feel” good, and “feel” that everything is fine. Then life throws us a curve ball, and we can’t find contentment and peace. We look at our circumstance, and don’t focus on God’s promise to take care of us. Struggling against that circumstance doesn't help. Railing at God doesn't help. In fact this makes our discontent and unrest worse. But there is a peace that passes our human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). God waits for surrender of our control. He waits for our trust. When we give Him all that rages and take refuge in Him, He lifts us from a place of self-centered worry and concern to His place of peace. We will know peace and contentment when we trust God. 


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” Jesus said. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27, NIV). I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). His peace is not dependent upon what the world or circumstances offer. We may have trouble in this life, but we do not need to fear. He has overcome whatever we face. When we seek Him and surrender all our desires for what He offers, we discover His peace no matter what life presents. We can boldly face whatever is to come with His peace and His purpose. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” Paul wrote (Philippians 4:19, NLT). Just as Paul, we can rise to our calling. All things are possible when we have His strength and His peace. 

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Honoring Daddy and Mama



“Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12a, NIV).

Four years ago today Mama left this earth for heaven. So much has happened in these last four years. Daddy married a sweet lady named Jeanie who used to sit with Mama in church while he sang in the choir. They had a beautiful year together, and then he suffered a stroke. Now he is at Autumn Cove in a room across the hall from where Mama spent her last years. I visit Daddy every day, but today will be difficult. He doesn’t remember it has been four years since Mama passed. I’m so thankful he can’t remember the grief. He lives in his own little world and from time to time allows us to be a part of it. The stories he imparts—the trips he takes in his mindthe adventures of his day are as real to him as my day is to me. Yesterday morning after he finished his cocoa my sister had sent him, he gave me a tender little smile that just melted my heart. I knew I was appreciated and loved. I unexpectedly remembered being swung up in his arms as a little girlhis blue eyes twinkling and laughing as he caught me on the way down. Daddy suddenly touched my arm drawing me out of my memory. He smiled at me again, and then looked passed me without seeing me. He was far away on another adventure or solving a problem beyond my comprehension. I do not know how I will find him today. I never know how he will be when I open his door. Today is harder because of Mama. But I know when I open his door he will be waiting for mejust as Mama also once waited. My sister and brother will be here soon to spend precious time with Daddyjust as they came through the years to spend precious time with Mama. Honoring our parents has never been difficult. We were greatly loved and were taught to do no less. Perhaps we will realize something. It isn’t the amount of time given that is important. It is the love in the few we offer. A few moments of our time are a lifetime to Daddyjust as they once were for Mama. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Do We Listen?



We know the story, because if we honestly admit it, it is our own. God instructs us, and we find a reason not to listen. If God is the love of our life, then obedience is not an option, and it does not just happen. It is born of deep commitment to Him. It certainly calls for personal sacrifice. When it is born of sacrifice, obedience speaks willingness to submit to God’s desires instead of our own. Often obedience contradicts the desires of the heart.

There are many excuses that are used for not following the Lord’s instruction.
“It is too hard for me to do that! I can’t give it up, Lord!”   
            “Lord, I don’t have time to study the Word and pray.”
            “Lord, what would others think of me?”
            “What if I fail you, Lord?”
            “I’m afraid!”
            “I can’t see how my doing this will help, Lord.”
            “I don’t feel the need to do that, Lord.”

The excuses mount until God’s voice echoes like distant thunder. With our backs firmly turned, and our hearts grown cold, we declare, “I refuse to do that, Lord.” God’s calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29). We are accountable for it. Refusing God is a dangerous game to play. If we don’t respond to His nudging through Scripture or through circumstance or through the voice of another we leave ourselves open to His scourging. The Holy Spirit will get our attention.

The Bible is filled with examples of those who refused to listen to God’s instruction. Some responded quickly, and others just refused. Yet others after responding were not completely obedient. King David, when confronted by Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba, repented. “Do not cast me from your presence,” he cried out to God, “or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). He understood the danger of being separated from God was the loss of God’s presence. His cry for forgiveness speaks of his loving respect for God and his commitment to God’s desires (Psalm 51).

Solomon refused to listen to the Lord, and allowed his weakness for the things of the world to destroy his relationship with Him. Near the end of his life, Solomon looked back on wasted years and declared in Ecclesiastes, Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)! Solomon’s life is a sad account of how he blew the undeserved opportunities God had given him. Chuck Swindall declares that Solomon’s life was “one lived apart from God”.

Jonah ran from the Lord’s instruction to witness to the depraved city of Nineveh, and he ended up in the belly of a whale. It took a near death experience to bring Jonah to receive a repentant heart. Even following his experience and repentance Jonah argued with the Lord. His obedience was less than perfect.


The Lord cries out for us to have an obedient heart—one that listens to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit as David listened—one which, unlike Jonah, follows God’s will without argument. We certainly do not wish our lives referred to as Solomon’s—one lived apart from God—one that blows the opportunities that God extends. Without holiness we will not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We will not experience the joyful fulfillment of His purpose. Holiness rises from a changed heart which continually and unreservedly surrenders to God’s molding. Will we listen and respond with every fiber of our being, or will we refuse? It is our responsibility to obediently allow the Holy Spirit to refine and purify our hearts.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Walk on Water



“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ” (Joshua 1:9, NLT).

With the vision of God's Promised Land just within their grasp the Israelites couldn't muster enough faith to face the giants who lived there. For years they wandered in the desert knowing their promise was just within reach, but they also knew that they would have to overcome obstacles to receive it. It would not be handed to them on a silver platter. They lived in fear of what it would cost.

Does this sound like you? You see your vision and understand God's promise awaits your action, but you just can't make the commitment to reach for it because of the fear of what it will cost. It might cost money or time or work. But that is not the most important cost. It will cost your complete surrender and it will cost faith. That is the payment that is required. Do you want the promise, but don’t want to face the giant of your own fear of what may happen? Instead of reaching for His promise do you become settled and comfortable where you are? No one wants to face the possibility of failure. Your promised land is within reach, but it requires obedience, commitment, and faith in God. You will have to risk to receive.

God told His people then, and He tells us now, to be strong and courageous, to be obedient and committed. Know the Word. Fill your mind and heart with its promise and the strength that it brings to receive His promise. Do not be afraid, and never be discouraged. Reach out and make the commitment that is needed to receive His promise. Disillusionment and discouragement will retreat with commitment to Him. Fear will vanish with action. When you step out of the boat in faith, you will walk on water because He is your “paraclete”—the omnipotent God who comes along your side to keep you from drowning. He is your advocate and greatest supporter.

Are you sitting on the edge of your vision for your Promised Land? “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). Faith gives you the assurance that those giants are nothing when faced with the power of God. Faith is your confidence to move forward in His will for your life believing He brings about His promise. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, NIV).

What is your vision?  What has God promised you?  If you are wandering in a desert of dry bones it is time to speak life to what God has promised. “God will make this happen,” Paul wrote, “for he who calls you is faithful” (I Thessalonians 5:24, NLT). His Spirit bids you come. Step out of your boat, and move forward trusting God will supply all you need to overcome any obstacle. The depths of those waters won’t drown you. With your spirit, soul, and body yielded to His purpose you will walk on water.
(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

The Faith of Christ

       I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I liv...