Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And God Gets the Glory

Read: Galatians 3: 1-3


“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants you to do.” - Phil 2:13 (TLB)

So often we strive to accomplish that which only the Holy Spirit is capable of achieving in our lives. We do not expect God to entirely deliver us from our fears, doubts, insecurities and carnal appetites. We struggle to overcome the sins that so easily trip us up.

Despite our efforts, we still fall into sin. We try to control these acts of the flesh in vain by quoting scripture, praying vigilantly and watching constantly over our feelings and attitudes. If we do succeed, however, then God gets no glory! We accomplished this change through our own effort; and chances are, it may not last very long.

After about 10 years of trying to please God with my good behavior, I realized that my attempts to gain favor with God resulted from my desire to earn God’s love. I struggled with despair each time I fell short of my goals. I feared that God could not love me with all of my imperfections.

Then I heard a pastor preach from Galatians 3: 1-3. I was shocked to hear him say that we would never be good enough. That if we could perfect ourselves, we would not need Jesus! That if we could save ourselves, His death was unnecessary! He made it clear that this is Paul’s point in both Galatians and Ephesians.

Now, when God points out a particular fault to me, I give it back to Him. I ask Him to do His complete work in my life. Then, I look up Bible verses about the opposite of that behavior and I write them down on recipe cards. I carry them around with me and reread them at every available moment. Eventually, I start to see Godly behavior and the fruit of the Spirit manifesting upon occasions when my human nature used to take control.

I realize now that even my best behavior falls short of God’s mark of perfection. I deserve no less than the fires of hell for even my best behavior. In his mercy, however, and even while I am still a sinner, God gave His life to pay the penalty of my sin. He also gives me His righteousness in exchange for my carnal nature.
 
Prayer:
Lord God, I wanted to achieve perfection to make You love me. I forgot that when You look at me, You see Jesus; and therefore, You are already well pleased. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
If trying to improve ourselves never gave us spiritual life before Salvation, why do we think that trying to perfect ourselves now will make us stronger Christians?


Monday, November 28, 2011

Freedom from Fear

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in men. It is better to take refuge in Him than in the mightiest king!” PS 118:8-9  (TLB)

One day I realized that I continually lose my peace and joy when I worry. Therefore, I started to write each concern on a small piece of paper and put it in a heart-shaped box. Then, when I start to fret again, I remember not to fear, because I already put the matter into the ‘heart of God.’

God promises to see us through times of distress in His perfect timing. Nothing this world throws our way will harm us irrevocably. Even if it takes our life, we take our next breath in the glories of Heaven! It is better to trust the Lord than to put our confidence in ourselves or anyone else. When we courageously survive a history of overcoming our struggles one day at a time, we have so much to share with others who are experiencing similar trails. We also gain faith to face the next adversity life throws our way, and we lose our fear of the future.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I pray for Your wisdom and strength to accomplish all You give me to do, because relying on You is better than depending on the most powerful person in the world. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
The Lord promises that He is on our side and that His help is just a prayer away.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Perfect Covering

Read: 1 Corinthians 11: 10-16

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between His shoulders." Deuteronomy 33: 12

A covering is a very handy item to possess. A hat keeps the sun from scorching our head or the rain from drenching our hair. For the Believer, the Lord is our covering. He gives us safety and security as we follow His precepts. He carries us upon His shoulders and we can rest secure in Him. The Psalmist said that God covers us with His feathers. He protects us from harm, conceals us from Satan’s detection and shields us from the circumstances of life.

In years past, hats signified dignity, reverence and submission. In today’s society, we do not give much credence to either physical or spiritual coverings. In our rebellious living we lose so much by removing ourselves from under God’s perfect covering. God is the covering for the man, and He made man the covering for the woman.

The Godly husband shields his wife's soul from the stress and pressures of life. His prayers conceal her spirit from Satan’s fiery darts. His provision cares for her physical needs by ensuring that she has a refuge for her body as well as her spirit and soul. With this type of man for a covering, it is easy for the wife to submit to his authority.

Prayer ~
Lord God, Your daily vigilance over us is an example of a Godly husband’s covering for his bride. Keep us ever mindful that living according to Your precepts is always better than following after the world’s philosophy.

Thought for the Day ~
Love covers a multitude of sin. - 1 Peter 4:8

Saturday, November 26, 2011

If We Faint Not

Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

Sharing the gospel of Christ with an unbeliever and watching the light dawn in their face is extremely satisfying. God’s truth transforms them as we witness real change in their life. This happens so infrequently, however, that over time we tend to get discouraged and frustrated. We take our eyes off of Jesus and look instead at the lack of our results as we minister for the Lord.

Noah preached for 120 years and only his wife, sons and daughters-in-law believed his message. The entire known world at that time scoffed at his faith and message. Yet, he did not give up. Noah served God with His life of obedience and God saved all of those who trusted in Him. Noah faithfully preached as he built the ark and watched as God sent animals two by two, just as He said He would.

Noah and his family even trusted God as they entered the ark. Their friends, neighbors and even some of their family refused to join them. Then, God shut the door and they were locked outside when the rains came. I know that Noah must have grieved over losing these precious people in his life. He had a whole year in the Ark to mourn over their demise.

God brings the harvest in His perfect timing. There is no need for us to struggle or strain, because the battle is the God's (2 Chronicles 20:15) and He is the Lord of the Harvest (Matthew 9:38). We plow, we sow and we trust that our seed will eventually bear fruit. We may win one person who will eventually win a multitude, just because we took a moment to share a testimony of what God did in our life. When we arrive in Heaven, a host of Believers will welcome us, some of whom we never met before that day.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I look forward to standing in Your presence and seeing the full impact of my service to You. Therefore, use me now to share a smile, a hug, an understanding word, a listening ear and the word of my testimony in Your precious name.

Thought for the Day:
Always point people toward the One who loves them more than His own life.

Friday, November 25, 2011

An Antiquated Book

Read: 2 Timothy 3: 16-17

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." ~ Psalm 119:105

I have no idea how I could survive in this insecure world without the solid footing provided to me by God's Word. The Bible contains a complete library bound into one book. Although multiple authors penned it years ago and years apart, the message is relevant throughout the ages. From Genesis to Revelation, we sit entranced as we read of the amazing adventures of human beings just like us.

The Word also tells us that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to provide us with Eternal Life. The Bible is important for us today because it shares relevant wisdom to give us the skill to live successful lives. It is a road map through the uncharted world in which we live, giving us hope in troubled times.

God did not create us and then abandon us on this earth. He gave us His Word to instruct us in how to live in the present at the same time that it encourages us to look to a future in His loving presence. God does not leave us in the dark. His prophecies give us clues about His plans and ignite our hope about His imminent return.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Word that offers us hope, enlightenment, instruction and encouragement. Thank You for fulfilling many of its prophecies already and for allowing us to live in this age where Your prophecies are fulfilled almost on a daily basis.

Thought for the Day:
A Bible that is falling apart belongs to an owner that is getting it together.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Word Fitly Spoken

Read: 1 John 4:1-6

Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.” - Phil 4:8 (TLB)

At the risk of sounding like a schizophrenic, if you ever held a conversation with your “Inner Self”, you know we possess at least two separate identities within our soul! Many Psychologists call this alter ego the “Inner Child.” The Bible uses the word “psuche,” or soul, in many verses with a variety of meanings.


The “Inner Child” is often rebellious, binges, curses, gets us into trouble and sabotages many things that we try to accomplish with our life. This part of our soul – our mind, will and emotions - needs sanctification. For instance, God taught me to express the feelings in my soul with logical words rather than to curse irrationally at the person hurting me.

I persuaded my Inner Child not to use profanity, but instead to express how the behavior made me feel. As an alternative I say, “That behavior really hurt my feelings and I want to strike back at you in anger right now.” This opens the door for dialogue between the offender and me, and allows us to solve issues. It also helps to clarify the intent behind the behavior and I often realize that I took it the wrong way.

I have to constantly remind my “Inner Child” to use my words to express how I feel rather than to verbally attack the offending party. I also remind her to take any hurt feelings to the Lord and to forgive the offender and to bless them whether they ever change or not.

Prayer ~ Lord, help me to use my words to kindly tell the truth, even when it hurts.

Thought for the Day ~  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Prov 25:11 NKJV

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Greater Love

Read: Isaiah 41:17-20

For God has said, ‘I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.’”  - Heb 13:5 (TLB)

I read the other day that when the Bible speaks of love, it means a love that endures long and continually. This made me realize that God always thinks the best of us, wants the best for us and rejoices when good things happen to us. He is patient with us and defends us when others come against us. He believes in us and wants us to trust Him in all things, because He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Then I realized that God not only loves, but He IS love. Since God lives in us, His love does too. This powerful love gives us a loving character, helps us not to demand our own way, teaches us to give and to forgive, helps us to show His love instead of our own prejudices and teaches us not to speak negatively to or about anyone else.

Prayer:
Lord, rid me of my prejudices so that I can love everyone without hesitation. But also, Lord, help me to remember that I am a person too, and that I need to love myself as well. Amen.

Thought For The Day:
When Jesus stretched open His arms and died for us all, God gave us an example of how true love performs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Peaceful Eye of the Storm

Read: 2 Corinthians 1: 2-7

Jesus said, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Mankind tries relentlessly to create a utopia in which to dwell. We surround ourselves with fashions, comforts and toys meant to bring joy to our soul. However, the daily news entails multiple accounts of damaging deeds playing out in the lives of many of those around us. Evil eventually even knocks at our own door.

Like is full of trouble and toil. Although joyous events occur, devastation soon follows. Our choices or the choices, which others imposed upon us, often bring us grief and despair. Tears fill our eyes and flow down our cheeks, often unbidden; yet, impossible to quell. We live in a world, which ignores God’s love.

Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). In the midst of our difficulties, God makes a way for us to enjoy peace that passes all human reasoning. In spite of the whirlwind of chaos around us, we know that Christ is with us, giving us the strength to withstand the cruelty of life and allowing us to enjoy His tranquility and comfort in the peaceful eye of the storm.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my heart breaks with news of tragedy in every corner of the earth, even right here in my own hometown. I pray for Your soon return, so that You can right the wrongs, which cause all of this suffering.

Thought for the Day:
We capture from the seeds of suffering, all the resources we need to inspire us to create new life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Unreserved Forgiveness

Read: Hebrews 12:14-15  

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

When someone hurts me, I want to strike back. I often struggle to forgive the offense, until I remember that forgiving does not have to include forgetting. The memory of the painful affront may linger in my heart, but I can still make a conscious decision to absolve the offender, just as God readily forgives my sins against Him. Whether the assault is a major event such as rape or physical violence, or if it consists of less abusive, habitual impositions such as lies and betrayal, we can still forgive.

Even though we should erect boundaries to keep ourselves safe from continued abusers, forgiveness means to pray for those who hurt us and to show them kindness (Matthew 5:44). We can only do this through God's love for them, which dwells in us. It is only by sincerely wishing them the best, that our healing is complete.

Prayer:
Lord, make me a vessel of Your peace; when I am reviled, help me to bless; when I am wounded, help me to forgive the offender.

Thought for the Day:
Bitterness is a boomerang that harms no one but me. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

With All Your Heart

Read: Ephesians 3: 14-19

“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:13

I noticed 
that seeking the Lord is a lost art in today’s society. Most people search for God half-heartedly. They only give Him a few moments between events in their busy schedule. The only ones who truly connect with Him, however, are those who seek Him with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength.

God wants us to experience Him in a spiritual way, which far exceeds any superficial, intellectual knowledge. He wants to fill us through our entire body, soul and spirit with all of His fullness, until we experience the richest measure of His presence and are flooded by His Spirit. 

It is only when we love the Lord with every ounce of our being that we can reach this level of Divine infilling. With this unreserved devotion come His blessings, the inheritance of eternal life, and true joy, peace, and contentment on this earth.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, restore us to fellowship with Your heart. Let us enter into Your presence each and every day, as we give You full access to our spirit, soul and body.

Thought for the Day:
God desires a personal relationship with each of us, and He is only a prayer away.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Convenience or Commitment?

Read: Psalm 119:2-8

“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” – Jeremiah 24:7

So many people love to hear the direct teaching of the Word of God; and yet, decide they do not want to follow its principles. They flock to church on Sunday morning by the thousands; yet give God nothing more than lip service on Sunday night or the rest of the week. They love to sit in the presence of God’s truth, but not to walk in it on a daily basis.

People in Biblical days had this same attitude. The people in Isaiah’s day drew near to God and honored Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from the Lord (Isaiah 29:13). Governor Felix listened to Paul, and was almost convinced; but at the last minute he decided it wasn’t convenient for him to commit to Christ (Acts 24:24-25). Herod liked to listen to John the Baptist’s uncompromising message of repentance; and yet he failed to act on what he heard. Pilate met Jesus face-to-face and knew He spoke the truth; yet he turned Jesus over to the Jews anyway.

We live in a world full of religious freedom, with daily access to Bible teachings in churches, on the radio and even on television; yet, we still fail to act on what we hear. Our worship bounces off the ceiling of our churches because we do not have clean hands and pure hearts (Psalm 24:4).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, place in us the desire to long for Your presence and to walk in obedience to Your Word each moment of every day.

Thought for the Day:
God is not our servant to do our bidding at our covenience, but our Master whom we follow in committed service.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hope Deferred

Read: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there’s life and joy.” - Proverbs 13:12 (TLB)

Depression often accompanies a time of disappointment or discouragement. We watch our hope dwindle away and our heart sinks into the quagmire of despair. A lost job, a failed relationship, a wayward teen, a child lost to tragedy or war, frustration with our government, the world’s environmental deterioration, the failing economy, disillusionment in the church’s leadership and so many other life events contribute to our mood. I know there is hope in Jesus, but sometimes I just cannot sense God’s direction for my life. I struggle to make a connection, yet He remains aloof.

At times like this, God knows there are worst gales of adversity ahead. He utilizes His silence to draw me closer. Like the tree planted by the water, I sink my roots deeper into Him. I follow the Psalmist’s example by encouraging my soul (Psalm 42:5). Only under the shadow of His wings do I find true and lasting peace. My only secure hope is in God. I praise Him, for He alone is the source of my comfort and joy.

PRAYER:
Lord, help us to remember that happy are they who have the God of eternity as their provider, and who keep their hope in You. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
I put my hopes and dreams in the Lord’s hands. I know they are safe there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God's Encouragement and Direction

Read: 1 Kings 19:5-12
“Be still, and know that I am God.” - Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

God showed great understanding and mercy by sending an angel to comfort Elijah when he ran from Jezebel’s wrath. In his moment of deepest despair, Elijah found comfort in the angel’s presence and strength from the angels provision of food, which was already prepared for him to eat. This helped Elijah on his following journey of forty days through the desert to the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments.


Elijah witnessed a great miracle by God, yet he still fell prey to feelings of depression and abandonment. He actually believed he was not able to make a difference in the lives of God’s people. God met him on this mountain, however. Not in the way that Elijah imagined, but in a still, small voice.

I sometimes feel helpless in my daily walk with the Lord. However, I need to realize that in order for Him to use me, my self-sufficiency must decrease, so that He can increase in my life. When I lay aside my busy schedule and go to the solitary place to seek Him, He always encourages me and gives me clear direction. As I sit in His presence, He robes me with His strength to carry out whatever ministry He lays before me. This is when I can shine for His glory.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to live as an instrument of Your love in the world around me. Strengthen me each day to do Your will, and remind me that You use only vessels fashioned by Your hand.

Thought for the Day:
Set aside daily, quiet, undisturbed time, in which to enter into the presence of God in order to worship Him and to listen for His guidance.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fly Away and Rest

Read: Lamentation 5:15-17

“So I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” Ps 55:6 (NKJV)

Some commercials promise to zip the harried housewife away from life’s stresses, through products like enchanting bath crystals. The actress always whizzes through her chores after a calming bath. I admit I often crave for a magic carpet to fly me away to a place of rest too! Of course, I realize that my chores always await my return. In reality, escaping is only a momentary relief!

When I lose my joy, the dance goes right out of my step and then I entertain the sin of murmuring as my soul gives in to frustration, depression, and sometimes, even resentment. Outer clutter causes inner clutter, which results in these negative emotions overwhelming me!

Starting each day with the Lord always gives me His joy as my strength. Then, by eliminating and preventing outer clutter, I can keep organized. This helps me to dwell in peace instead of dissatisfaction. My day is never successful, however, unless I listen to the Spirit and wait on His direction as I do each task. He always has a quicker or more creative way to do a simple chore. I get done so much faster by doing it His way.

One day He prompted me to have a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. To facilitate this, I purchased wooden storage units of all sizes and arranged them in every available space in the house. He also led me to purchase stackable kitchen utensils, which make storing and using them and their lids more efficient. One of the most time saving ideas came when He encouraged me to store duplicates of all necessary cleaning supplies in each room. This allows me to whisk away any mess in a few seconds.

Everyone discovers their own housekeeping rhythm as they explore different methods. I used to try to squeeze all of the major chores into every day in an attempt to keep my house immaculate. The Spirit reminded me that a casually spotless house was much easier to live in. Now I like to do one major chore a day, and then touch up all over to keep things looking clean and uncluttered.

PRAYER:
Lord, give me Your wisdom as I perform my daily chores, so that I have more time to serve You in areas where You need me the most. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Enhance your peace within by controlling the clutter without.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why Do We Serve

Read: Philippians 2:15-19

"We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. We were not looking for praises from men, not from you or anyone else." - 1 Thessalonians 2:4,6

Working in the ministry can prove very frustrating and discouraging if we take our focus off the One we serve and put it on people instead. God calls every Believer to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; so in some sense of the word, we are all ministers. If our goal is to glorify Him in all we say and do, then our ministry into people’s lives will not discourage us. God does not hold us accountable for the results, just for our obedience to His calling on our life
(2 Chronicles 20:15).

My husband is fond of saying, “If you shake my tree, you are going to get my apples!” He is always incredulous when someone comes to us for counsel and then walks away and ignores the Biblical advice he shared with them. His consolation comes from the thought that his words may someday still bear fruit in that person’s life.

So even if you feel unqualified to preach, teach or counsel, you can still share either a testimony of God’s provision in your life, an understanding hug, an offer to pray or even a smile. These simple gestures can change a life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as I work in Your mission field, use me to help You to change the lives of those You bring my way. When I enter eternity, I look forward to actually seeing the effective impact of my service for Your Kingdom. 

Thought for the Day:
Our service to Christ is fueled by the desire to serve and the motivation of obedience.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Immortality NOW

Read: Romans 6:4-5

"Whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." - John 5:24

Humans constantly search for the fountain of youth to achieve immortality. They explore in vain for a way to live forever. When we are "born again," we actually cross from eternal death into eternal life. It happens the instant we believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again to give us a new life in Him. At that very moment, we take our first step out of this mortal world and into the immortal Kingdom of God. We can have immortality NOW. 

Then we experience life as Christ prepared it for us. We are free from the power of sin and the lusts and expectations of this world. Our old nature is crucified with Christ, and He lives His life through us (Galatians 2:20). We live each new day in glorious freedom as the body of Christ. Once our mortal body expires, the angels are there to immediately whisk us off to the presence of God, where we will spend eternity worshipping and serving Him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make our lives a living witness of the power of Your gospel.  Keep us ever mindful that Your Spirit resides in our hearts to empower us to live Godly lives now and throughout eternity.

Thought for the Day:
Exhibit the power of Christ’s gospel through a life, which is victorious  in achievement as well as surrendered to His will.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our Destiny Hangs in the Balance

Read: James 3:10-12

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." - 1 John 2:15

Living Godly lives requires that we focus on living holy lives. However, in today's society with all of the glitter and glitz, it is so easy to get sidetracked. We start out by dabbling in sin, but we end up as sin’s slave. Holiness and sin cannot dwell together in the same person. There is only One Way to obtain freedom from this addiction to the world. That is through the leadership of the Holy Spirit within us. He will permeate and perfect us until we live for God alone, in the abundance of His righteousness, peace and joy.

Sometimes, the weeds of this world threaten to choke the very life from us. There is hope, however. The Master Gardener promised that in the end, He would separate the chaff from the wheat and burn the counterfeit in the eternal flames of hell. The difference between the chaff and the wheat is found in those who are not only convicted of sin, but who are also actually converted from sin and who live transformed lives. 

Prayer:
Lord, never allow any love for the world to dilute our love for You. Keep us unspotted from the world and overpower us by Your love.

Thought for the Day:
As we conform to the image of Christ, our spiritual identity will insure our eternal destiny.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

God's Vindication

Read: Psalm 26:1-3

“Vindicate me in your righteousness, O LORD my God; do not let them gloat over me.” - Psalm 35:24 (NIV)

Sometimes people come into our life that never truly understand who we are. They may know us for years; yet they never really know us. They misjudge us according to their own prejudices. They relegate us to a certain level in their thinking beyond which we can never pass. The sad fact is that they are no larger in their own eyes than we are; therefore, they believe that they must belittle us in order to feel bigger and better. Giving God's love back to such people is the best way to deal with them.

A person’s opinion of us only matters if we allow it to do so. I refuse to give this much power to another human being. No one can rightly judge another man's servant, because before his own Master he stands or falls (Ro 14:4). What anyone thinks or feels about me does not carry any weight of importance. Only God's opinion of me matters, and He will vindicate me in the end (Ps 35: 24). He is the only One who can truly discern the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Who is this person who tries to condemn you? Christ Jesus, who died - and even more than that, who was also raised to live again - is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:34). He is our litigator, our lawyer and our advocate. With Him defending us, no one will ever falsely accuse us and get away with it. The light of eternity will reveal the truth.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, because we are His dear children. We are from God and have overcome, because You who dwell within us are greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 3:21; 4:4).

Thought for the Day:
If we are falsely accused, we stand in good company. They also crucified Jesus Christ, an innocent man.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Biblical Principle

Read: Matthew 7:13-14

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  - Matt 19:24 (NKJV)

It is so easy to go through a wide gate or to drive down a wide highway. We do not need God’s help on such a journey. When you consider a camel getting through the eye of a needle, however, this is an unattainable task except by the grace of our Almighty God.  Jesus speaks about many narrow places that are negotiated only by the abilities God provides.

In my life, the hardest task for me to accomplish was that of forgiving myself. I readily forgave those who harmed me, because I had Jesus’ example on the cross. I had no reference, however, for forgiving myself. Then I thought about the Prodigal Son who had to forgive himself for squandering his inheritance before he could ever accept the gifts so freely bestowed on him by his father. I realized that I also had to forgive myself before I could accept the gifts of mercy, grace and love from my Heavenly Father.

Prayer:
Lord, teach us that pride is at the root of unforgiveness and give us the grace to overcome this sin and to forgive not only others but ourselves as well.

Thought for the Day:
We have no ability to share God’s message of truth to the world, unless we have His truth permeating our heart. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Serenity Principle

Serenity Prayer: “Father, grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This prayer teaches us that we can hear God’s desire for every situation in our life and live life in the moment . In the Serenity Prayer we ask God to give us the wisdom to know what situations we can change, and which to leave in His hands. If you cannot change them, then praise God for them, in them, and through them - even for the negative things. By doing this, you end up walking in complete serenity and in the dynamic power of the Spirit of God.

If you can do something about it, do it. If you can't, then give it to God...No! I mean, really give it to God. Then you can deal with the emotions or circumstances or put them in God’s hands before you go on to the next moment ~ experiencing each moment fully and deliberately with thought, prayer and purpose. You end up going about your day in the peace of God that passes all understanding.

Ask God for the strength to deal with the issues that He reveals are your responsibility. Then turn the rest over to the Lord and ask God to help you to develop an attitude of acceptance about them. What is it in your life that is causing you a problem right now?  Can you do something about it? Then, do it! If not, then change your focus and give the problem to God. Would you like to have your life changed? The Holy Spirit is present to fill you with all the fullness of God, and to help you to walk one moment at a time. This is the key to walking in Serenity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Transformation

Read: John 16:20-22

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.” Isa 61:3 (TLB)

This morning, I thought about many things that bring joy into my life: butterflies in my garden, a humorous story, scenic beauty, receiving a desire of my heart, a tender and meaningful interaction, life-long friendships and miraculous moments. I used to find it hard to feel joyful, because God created me with a melancholy personality. However, over my lifetime, God’s Holy Spirit replaced the negative, pessimistic aspects of my personality with the fruit of His Spirit.

He replaced hatred with love, discontentment with peace, irritation with patience, criticism with gentleness, backbiting with goodness, worry with faith, pride with meekness and depression with true joy as His Spirit guided me moment by moment throughout the day.

What do the words of the fruit of the Spirit mean? Love is affection for others; Joy is exuberance about life; Peace is abiding serenity; Patience is a willingness to stick with the task; Gentleness is compassion from the heart; Goodness is kindness that pervades our entire being; Meekness is humility in service; Self-Control is living a life guided by the Spirit of God; Faith is trusting that God knows what He’s doing.

Prayer:
Lord, rebirth in me a new heart and regenerate Your spirit within me. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
God is in the transforming business.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Attaining or Obtaining

Read: Matthew 11:28-30

"For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his." - Hebrews 4:10 (KJV)

We achieve a goal either by attaining it through hard work or by obtaining possession of it through no effort of our own. For years I strove to keep every jot and tittle of all of God's commandments to the letter of the law (Matthew 5:18). I wanted to please God and pay Him back for His sacrifice on the cross. I tried to attain Salvation by my own efforts.

Most religions require their followers to attain paradise through an uphill struggle throughout life. Christianity is just the opposite, however. I heard it said, “Christianity is the only religion where God came down to man.” We are actually encouraged to cease from all of our striving as God did from His on the seventh day, and to enter into His rest and to obtain His righteousness as a free gift.

So, what are we waiting for? Stop striving and obtain the gifts God has for you by following His lead each moment of the day.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach us the fine line between attaining and obtaining. Let us trust in Your wisdom and grace for a lifetime of achieving the results You lead us to accomplish.

Thought for the Day:
The Holy Spirit transforms the lives He inhabits.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Choose the Best Gift

Read: Matthew 5: 3-12

“But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”  - 1 Corinthians 12:31 (NKJV)

Solomon had a choice to receive anything his heart desired from the Lord. He could have amassed riches and fame, but instead he made a simple request – for God to give him wisdom to judge righteously (1 Kings 3:9). He is a good example to me in requesting my daily provision from the Lord. Solomon knew God’s principle of sewing and reaping. He sought God’s Kingdom and reaped an abundance of everything he ever needed.

I want to draw closer to God daily, to glorify Him in word and deed and to keep His will as the center of my focus. I have faith to believe that if I truly seek first His Kingdom, He will add everything I need to my life (Matthew 6:33). He will bless me abundantly and increase my talents, understanding and serenity, because I am His child and a co-equal heir with my brother Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord, I want You to reveal to me Your more excellent way. Teach me to do Your will and to gratefully accept Your provision in my life and to walk in Your ways, so that I can receive your blessings.


Thought for the Day:
God hears the prayers of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dedicated Devotion

Read: 1 Corinthians 3:12-13

“For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'” – Acts 17:28 (NAS)

In today's disposable society, it is easy to toss God out or to push Him aside when our life gets too full. Satan is hard at work trying to distract our time away from God. The tyranny of busyness consumes us and lassos us away from our covenant to worship God with our whole life.

Once we make time, however, the benefit of worship is that we draw closer to His presence and develop a more intimate and loving relationship with Him, which enables us to live and move and have our being permeated with His power.

God desires for us to totally commit our life to Him. This involves all of our heart, all of the days of our lives. In order to accomplish this, we first have to sort through the excesses in our lives and rearrange our schedule. We start by eliminating the less important temporal activities made of wood, hay and straw in order to make more time to focus on eternal matters that are made of gold, silver and precious stones.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help us to establish the discipline of praying without ceasing, having an attitude of prayer with every thought, word and deed each moment of our day, so that we walk in the center of Your will.

Thought for the Day:
God sprinkles our days with epiphanies, eases our load, encourages our triumphs and lights our path.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Follow the Leader

Read: Lamentations 3:38-40

"And if you ask yourself, “Why has this happened to me?”— it is because of your many sins...” – Jeremiah 13:22

As a teenager, I adjusted my behavior to fit in with my peer group and I followed their lead. Little did I know, we were all on the path to pain and ruin. People without Christ in their life find it impossible not to sin. Human nature is bent on taking the path with the minimum amount of effort along with the maximum capacity for pleasure.

Only Jesus creates true change in a person by exposing and eliminating our desire to sin. He warned us not to allow even a little sin to enter our life, because like yeast, it multiplies (Galatians 5:9). God hates sin; not only because He is holy, but also because He knows that when we compromise our values we put ourselves in a vulnerable position, which often causes us anguish and misfortune.

God made provision for us through the cross of Calvary. When we ask Jesus to forgive our sins, He freely exchanges them for His righteousness. From that point on, we live our life following His lead as He showers us with blessings. He also commissions us to tell others about the love of Christ and to point them to our Savior.  

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may I always be a light to my family, friends, relatives and neighbors, showing them the way to Eternal Life. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
We can help to eliminate wickedness in the world, by sharing Christ with one person at a time.


Friday, November 4, 2011

A Personal Rapture

Read: 2 Corinthians 2: 2-4

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:17

We all know that just prior to the Great Tribulation on earth, Jesus Christ will return in the clouds to “rapture” His Saints. He will escort us to Heaven where we will receive rewards for our spiritual works on earth and then participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb as the Bride of Christ.

With this in mind, I contemplated the recent passing of several of our church members. I realized that the soul and spirit of Saints who pass through the veil of death, experience their own personal, instant “catching up” to the throne of God.

I thought about verses such as Luke 16:22 where the beggar died and was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. Also, 2 Corinthians 5:8, reminds us that we are confident and willing to be absent from the body, because we know that we shall dwell forever in the presence of the Lord.

The Lord considers the death of His Saints as a precious time (Psalm 116:15). Luke 20: 36 assures us that we shall never die again and that we will be like the angels and live as sons of God. God is our guide even in death (Psalm 48:14) and He raises us up in new life after death, where we shall dwell with Him forever and ever. This encourages me to know that even in death, the righteous have a refuge in the Lord.

Thought for the Day:
"A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth." - Ecclesiastes 7:1

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, draw to Your heart the family members and friends of those who pass through the veil of death.  Fill their hearts with Your love so fully that they will feel no other emotion. Allow Your peace that passes all understanding to wash over them as a waterfall as they find their refuge under the shadow of Your wings. Help them to realize that their strength and comfort is in Your joy. Give them clarity of thinking as You lead them beside the still waters and restore their souls. In Jesus' name and for Your glory. Amen. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Money Matters

Read: Leviticus 27:29-33

"But Melchizedek, who was not a descendant of Levi, collected a tenth from Abraham. And Melchizedek placed a blessing upon Abraham, the one who had already received the promises of God." - Hebrews 7:6 (NLT)

Dalia's husband is an alcoholic and he lost his job. He went to several rehabs, but could not shake his addiction. Finally, he left his family and moved back up north to live with his mother. Dalia had so much dumped on her at once - a mortgage, two daughters to support, and a mountain of debt that needed paying - that she fell on her knees. Then guess what she did? She started tithing, which her husband would never allow her to do.

Within weeks, God opened a door for her to keep her home, which she thought was lost, and to pay all of her bills except for a tiny bit needed for daily living. In response to her continued prayer and trust in the Lord, God moved on her ex-husband's heart to start sending her part of his retirement fund, which he currently collected each month from his former job.

Prayer:
Lord, help us always to remember that You are faithful, especially when we live in obedience to Your Word.

Thought for the Day:
In the Lord's hands, a widow's mite goes a long way.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Busy Bee

Read: James 1: 2-4


“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” ~ James 1: 3

While weeding in my butterfly garden, I watched an industrious bee flitting from flower to flower. During this process, the pollen weighed the bee down as it gathered more and more of the gold dust on its body. I suddenly realized that in our daily life we gather the cares of the world, which weigh us down too.

There is a positive side to this story. The bee cross-pollinates as it flies from flower to flower, and the nectar is used to make honey. Rather than allowing our cares to weigh us down and give us a negative attitude, we can patiently change our focus and look at them as ordained opportunities from the Lord. They give us the opportunity to carry the Good News from one life experience to another. In every encounter we can share the love, peace and joy of the Lord with everyone we meet. This way we are a blessing wherever we go, just like the busy little bee.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the trials of our faith, which are worth more than the finest gold, and which produce in us character that will not perish when we go through the fire of testing.

Thought for the Day:
Character tested by trials results in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

God Bends Down to Listen

Read: 2 Chronicles 6:39-42

“I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” - Psalm 116:1-2, (NLT)

What an awesome God we serve! He actually bends down to hear our requests clearly, so He can answer them in a timely manner. Of course, sometime His answer is “No” or “Wait,” but these responses are also for our good. At times, He even uses wisdom and discipline to keep us on a safe path because of some potential, unforeseen harm that threatens us (Psalm 27:11).

I want to walk worthy of God’s calling and to bring Him joy by bearing His spiritual fruit in my service to others. I am determined to increase in my knowledge of who He is and what He wants from me (Colossians 1:10-14) by daily Bible reading and prayer. I draw my strength from Him as I endeavor to joyfully do His will each day.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for delivering me from Satan’s hold and allowing me to partake in the inheritance of Your Kingdom with Jesus Christ. Please help me to naturally reflect the gratitude I feel toward You in my words and deeds.

Thought for the Day:
God sees the big picture and sometimes graciously refuses to grant all of our requests.