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Friday, March 31, 2017

Plant Deeply

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

Years ago on a ledge above my kitchen sink was a begonia my cousin gave me. It was first planted by my great aunt in the early 1900s. Through many years, as each older plant died, cuttings sprouted new growth. When each new growth struggled for life, its root system sank deeply into rich soil seeking nourishment and finding fulfillment in its unfailing strength.  Such are the days of our lives. Battles rage and then a time of peace comes. We build and then tear apart. We search and then give up. The old dies and gives way to the new. “There is a time for everything, and there is a season for every activity under heaven,” Solomon imparted (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Every event in your life has a purpose. It builds your character and has the potential to spur greater spiritual maturity.

At the end of his life and sadly depressed from his fall from God’s grace, Solomon wrote of his failures. “Learn from the seasons of your life!” Solomon imparted throughout Ecclesiastes. “Don’t waste your years. God blessed me with wisdom and I threw his gift away!” If we allow life to blow us in all directions and never plant ourselves in His truth, we will not reap the greater faith, strength, and power He wishes to impart. The time to act—to plant—is now,” Solomon would advise, “because there is no perfect season” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). When we deeply plant our lives in God and sink our roots into His promises, we learn lessons that will carry us safely through each season of life.

Just as my great aunt’s begonia was lovingly nourished through many years of beneficial care, His nourishment is essential for us to blossom spiritually. I wish I could say that I still have that begonia. But I don’t. I didn’t take care of it correctly. I didn’t pour into its life what was needed to survive. Now that I am older I look back upon the seasons of my life and ask if I wasted my years. Did I plant myself deeply enough in His Word? Did I pray enough? Did I persevere enough? Did I share my faith enough? Did I praise Him enough? You, who are young, don’t allow the seasons to pass without putting down roots in Him—without persevering for His best. Never hesitate to plant yourself in whatever season of life claims you now. One day the years will claim you too, and perhaps, unlike Solomon, you will be able to look back upon your own life and know you invested wisely.

Copyright 2016 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Counting the Cost Spiritually

“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 worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-8a, 10-12, 13b-14, NIV). 

This is a powerful statement from Paul! He longed to be sold out to Jesus. He didn't care what that sacrifice cost, because His Savior had paid the greatest price. He never once forgot that living his faith was all about Christ. Paul knew the cost of absolute surrender.

We begin our Christian life called out of love for our Savior. Our hearts initially burn with joyful amazement at the magnitude of what God has started only to find along the way that our inability to surrender control to the Lord chokes out His Spirit. There are some things we should never forget. Never forget that we have no purpose without Him. Never forget the costly price He paid for our sins. Never forget so pride will not be an issue. Pride exists without our surrender. We are called to have a servant’s heart, and we are certainly no higher or better than those we serve. If a person feels the need to speak of his humility, then pride is really an issue. True humility is a powerful tool. It reveals that spiritual power in a believer’s life has been placed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul found it in absolute surrender. We can find it too.

Paul knew that the cost of living the Christian life should only be counted spiritually. There is a great danger in humanly counting the cost of commitment. Analyzing too much about what you believe is personally required can cause you to retreat from the depth of inward commitment necessary. Too little commitment and your desire to live for Jesus fades away. However, there is power in spiritually counting the cost. When the price of commitment is spiritually counted and the cost is absolute surrender to Jesus Christ, then biblical paradoxes take on new spiritual depth. Servitude brings greatness. Weakness brings strength. To live is to die, and to die is to live. Paul experienced these in his life. They are also what we receive when we are sold out to Christ.

Your life in Christ requires surrender. God doesn’t want you “burned out and used up” because of His call upon your life. He wishes you fresh, alive, and able to pour His life through you. Give whatever is necessary spiritually. You will receive the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, and what is so important, you will inspire commitment in others. Live what Paul wrote. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” There is no greater life. There is no greater passion. There is no greater reward.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

You Are My Instrument

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

“Because you belong to me,” the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart, “I know you intimately. You are my instrument, and I long to make powerful music in your life. I long to play the music of my love through you. Your music is not my music. Your music rises from self, but my music rises from the love of my sacrifice. It is complete, and never fails. It is honest, and never fabricates. It is pure and never clouded with earthy judgment. I make harmony of which you make such discord. My music played in your life sounds hope in the ears of those you alone have no power to impact for me.

“Through your life I have the power to reach those you have failed‒ones you have misjudged and ones of whom you have thought less. Your “self” judges, and because of that you have no power to make a difference. You have placed yourself in the way of what I am able to do. Yield your life to me, and allow me to bring harmony to its purpose. My music will flow, rich and free, through you into others. Don't allow the discordant failures of your life to hold you back. Because you desire all of me now, and because you know me as your Lord, your failures are now mine to take. They are no longer yours. It is my purpose to bear them, and to make all things new.

“Even during the darkest of days, David allowed His music to be my music. You, just like my servant, David, are also my instrument. Never allow hard circumstance to keep you from playing the music I have placed within your heart. Through your life, I will make music that speaks to the souls of men and bids them come to me. Never forget that you are mine, and that any attempt to make music without my help will always fail. Only I can play on the strings of your life. Only I can bring out the beautiful promises that sing my praise.

“'My heart, O God, is steadfast,' my servant, David, proclaimed. 'I will sing and make music. I will sing to the Lord all of my life. I will sing to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 57:7; 104:33, NIV). You are my instrument, my child, and I am the conductor of your life. All I desire is your surrender. Open your heart to my music, and allow me to play upon your heart strings. Sing to me always. Through you I will write my very best music, and bring forth a glorious symphony. Just allow me.”

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Freedom of Grace

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

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

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Repair Your Altar

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. ” (Isaiah 43:2, NLT). 

Through any distress and loss that you face, He is with you. The waters will not rise above the strength that only He can bring forth in your life. Oppression will only strengthen and refine you. When you advance through these rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. He will be your haven—your safe harbor. Whatever your sorrow or pain, it does not last forever. Whatever your heartbreak or despair, one day it will be over. You will not be burned up. You will be refined as gold.

His peace comes when you repair the altar that has been waiting far too long. It has been broken in stages as His call to fall upon your knees has been repeatedly ignored. Have you believed you had more pressing needs than spending time with Him? Have you placed Him and His call on the back burner so often that now He seems too far beyond your reach? His altar is a place of sacrifice—and it waits for you. It calls you. Oh, if only you had fallen upon His altar each day! It would not have taken a moment of crisis for you to realize its fragile state, and that peace could be so elusive. But here you are, and in this moment you realize what you have lost.

The altar waits for you. It has never grown tired of your delay. The promise of His love and peace is still just as real. Fall upon your knees in absolute surrender. The anguish you have felt will soon anticipate His promise of joy to come. Grasp His promise that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, NLT). And remember His strongest children are those who in the night of weeping—after leaving their pain upon His altar—confidently believe in the promise of joy in the morning. Come and repair what has been broken.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Praise

When my way seems too hard, it isn't. You are with me. When my load feels too heavy, it isn't. You carry it. When my heart feels like it is breaking, it isn't. You are molding me. When I feel overwhelmed, I'm really not. I'm at rest in you. You will keep me in perfect peace when I trust in you...when all of my thoughts are fixed upon you, Lord (Isaiah 26:3). One breath and one moment at a time you form fire fill me.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Peace in Your Control

When the wind is stripped from my sails, Lord, I can’t move. I’m lost without your direction. I’m weak without your power. I don’t see the next step you wish, or even have the gumption to seek it. I can’t carry another weight or another load. I have come to the end of myself. And this is the place where your miracle happens. When I let go of all I have tried to do, to be, to say, or to manage, I am ready for you to be in control. I long for your freedom. I seek your lesson. I seek your will. In my weakness I find your strength. When I stop my hectic pace and focus my thoughts and energy on you—when I listen to what you wish to impart I discover your power to sustain me. You carry me, Lord, powerfully and confidently into the heat of battle, but only when I allow you to bear the weight of command. When you are in control I trust that you are my God, and that you take care of each and every problem I face. I am refreshed. I have confidence and power to face my giants. My weakness has become your strength.

Do you remember that thing I asked you to handle, Lord, and then tried to handle myself? The moment I attempt to control what is not mine to control, I lose the battle and also your peace.  You promise peace. You give rest. Resting in you brings the strength to trust you, and also gives me the power to let you have control. Lord, I want to allow you to take care of what I was never meant to handle alone. I give up my rights. I give up what I deem necessary. When I allow you to carry my load, my burden is light. I am thankful that I can trust you to handle my life, Lord, and that I am free to be your beloved child. Forgive me for straining against your will. Forgive me for taking into my own hands what you alone can direct. In quietness, rest, and trust I receive all of your strength to face all that comes. I trust in you with all my heart, and I will not depend on my own understanding. You show me the way to take. And when I walk in your path I know your peace.

(2 Corinthians 12:9, Matthew 11:30, Philippians 4:6-7, Isaiah 26:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Isaiah 30:15, Proverbs 3:5)

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Greater THan Your Failure

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV).

  Do you yearn to be in God’s perfect will? Do you believe that you continually surrender your will so that any decision you make falls into the realm of His purpose? You make a decision to forward in what you believe in His perfect will. Then—without warning—you face failure. That failure consumes your waking and sleeping moments. It eats at you until you question if you ever really understood His will.

You don’t “own” your failure. It belongs to Him. Everything you are belongs to Him so your failure also belongs to Him. You can’t keep that failure festering and hurting inside your heart until every sense of worth is destroyed. The “what ifs” that you ask will only bind you to that failure. Being consumed with that failure and what might have been only places your failure on a pedestal instead of placing it on His altar. Make that failure an offering so that you can learn from it and not dwell on it. He understands where your failure began and He alone can make it right. Because you love Him and your heart longs to follow His will, He will take your failure and reclaim you. He has taught you a lesson that can keep you from another failure—if you will move forward from your failure trusting He will guide you. Seek His will in every decision you make. Commit that decision to Him, and ask Him to make your plan His plan. He will establish the work of your hands—by teaching you a lesson that grows His purpose in your life or by empowering your decision with His anointing.

Rejoice in His promise of restoration! Praise Him that you don’t own His plan or any failure! His plan is greater than any failure that you might make. Step forward from doubt caused by failure, and move forward in faith in Him. Commit to Him whatever you do. Make your life and your plan an offering. He will make all right as He wishes. One decision at a time, obediently rendered, brings deep pruning and His greatest fulfillment.

(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rest in You

“From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge” (Psalm 61:2-3a, NLT).

My heart was overwhelmed today, Lord. It was stretched beyond what I thought I could bear. The emotional pressure and stress would have been too much if it had not been for you. I cried out to you, Lord, and your Spirit prayed for my healing from within the depths of my own broken heart. My spirit clung to yours. I could feel your Spirit rising within me; I could feel your heart beating from within my own—calming and imparting peace to my battered soul. You are my place of safe refuge from all that comes against me. You are the rock of protection to which I cling. You are constant; you are true, and you never change. You are the healer of my wounded heart. My world may crumble—my loss might be great, but you are my strong and mighty tower of strength. You are my safe harbor in a sea that threatens to claim my last breath. Take the grief of this day and make it part of your joy. I walk in your Spirit, and yearn to never leave. I breathe in your Spirit, Lord. I breathe in your hope and your promise. You are the heartbeat of my life. You constantly lead me into your presence again—and again—and again. You call to me until leaving your altar is something that no longer beckons—until all I desire is you carrying me through each moment. You have heard my heart’s cry from the ends of the earth, Lord, and from the bounty of heaven you have brought a peace of mind the world will never understand. You bring joy that cannot be described in mere words. You bring wholeness into my divided and torn life.  I am healed. No longer overwhelmed—no longer pressured with too much, I rest in you.

Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher

Allow His Love

Life is busy, overwhelming, and complicated. We often hurry through our days, missing the opportunities God sends us. However, God's unc...