Monday, April 30, 2012

Family and Friends

Read: Ephesians 3: 4-6

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” – Romans 8:17

Although in another portion of scripture, Paul calls himself a bondservant to Jesus Christ and a slave to righteousness, he also reveals this significant truth, which identifies us as children, heirs and friends with our Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:13). As Born Again Christians, we are not only regenerated disciples of Christ. We are not merely His servants. We are someone whom He considers as His friends and family. We are adopted into God’s family and co-equal heirs with Jesus to inherit everything that our Heavenly Father owns.

This thought warms my soul and fills me with joy, peace and abundant love for both my Heavenly Father and my brother, Jesus. Jesus who is both the Lion of Judah and the sacrificial lamb, the sin of the world and the righteous judge, the consuming fire and the light of the world, the root of Jesse and the King of the Jews, is ultimately, Emanuel, God with us. He dwells in our spirit and changes us from the inside out.

We do not have to earn His love or acceptance by good deeds or righteous acts. We simply need to surrender our will to His and walk in obedience to His calling for our life. He gives us His Holy Spirit as our comforter and guide (John 15:26) and He promises never to leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8). As His friends, we do what He leads us to do.

He no longer calls us servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, He has calls us His friends, because everything that Jesus learned from our Father He has made known to us. We did not choose Him, but He chose us and appointed us to go forth in the world and bear fruit for His Kingdom (John 15: 13-16a).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my very best friend and I thank You for Your finished work on Calvary’s Cross that allows me to walk in Your love and acceptance as Your sister and friend. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who dwells within me, and that the fullness of the godhead is in me as well (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).

Thought for the Day:
Jesus is our loving Friend and Brother who is always here for you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The God of Balance

Read: Isaiah 55:5-9

“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope.” -Romans 15:13

Some of my friends and family are afraid to rely on God for their needs, because they see Him as an angry Being ready to pounce on our smallest mistake. I understand how they feel, because I used to view God as a wrathful ruler, extracting a great price from His followers. I imagined him like the perceived Wizard of Oz…with smoke and fire and angry words and faces. What I did not understand at that time is that God’s people fear Him, not because of His fury, but because of His love.

During my first year of college, God revealed to me that He is not a punisher, but a provider for those who trust in Him. He is not wrathful, but graceful. He is not hateful, but loving. He does not extort, but gives liberally to all who will ask of Him. God constantly reaches out to those who do not know Him. And when we take the chance and trust Him with our life, we feel His divine forgiveness pouring over our soul like a waterfall (Psalm 130:4). We can readily forgive the harm others inflict upon us, because we have been forgiven much as well (Luke 12:48). 

Another reason people do not trust in God as their Savior is because of Satanic lies that they believe. They worship the creature rather than the creator (Romans 1:25). They follow humanistic reasoning and worldly perceptions rather than asking God for true wisdom from above (James 3:17). They allow science and history revisionists to overrule the principles they learned at their mother’s knee. They reject the Gospel and cling to fables instead of to the Truth (2 Timothy 4:4; John 14:6).

Unbelievers say that we are misinformed, brainwashed, deceived, unenlightened, narrow minded, misled and bigoted. They cling to the flotsam and jetsam of their shipwrecked lives, not realizing that they are inches away from sinking into eternal damnation. All it takes for them to be saved is for them to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to allow Him to lead them by His Spirit into all truth (John 16:13).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, shower those who do not know You with Your loving kindness. Cause them to desire the fullness of a life found in You. Give them a vision of Your mercy and grace. Open the eyes of their understanding and trouble their dreams until they reach out and allow You to enfold them in Your sacred heart.

Thought for the Day:
God is not constantly watching out for you to sin, but He is always watching out for you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

He Restores My Soul

Read: Psalm 23

“He restores my soul.” – Psalm 23:3

In the Psalms, David often writes about the state of his soul. He eloquently expresses exactly how we feel much of the time. He refers to his soul as a young child (Psalm 131:2). He talks about his soul plunging into distress (Psalm 32; 51). He encourages and exhorts his soul (Psalm 103:1). Then, in Psalm 23 he pictures Jesus as our Good Shepherd, who leads His sheep to “green pastures,” “quiet waters” and “paths of righteousness”, and He restores our soul. What is the meaning of the verb “restores”, which is used over 1,000 times in the Old Testament?

I like to think of it as a “refreshing” from the Lord. I picture myself sprinkled by the mist of a waterfall on a hot summer day, or wading in a brook, or walking into an air-conditioned room after working out in the yard or drinking a cool glass of herbal iced tea. “Refreshing”…I just love that word. God refreshes our soul ~ our mind, our will and our emotions. 

To “restore” also has the implication of fixing something that is broken. It means to take something that is old and in need of repair and renewing, refurbishing, renovating, modernizing, mending or recovering it. When God moves into a soul, He dismantles it and builds it up with all new materials. He provides us with a spiritual makeover from the inside out.

The dictionary also describes the word “restore” as bringing something back to or putting it back into its former or original state. It refers to converting, reviving or transforming our soul from a fleshly, carnal entity to a spirit-filled state of existence.  When the Holy Spirit moves into our soul, He brings us back to the place of holy innocence that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.

The soul is the deepest part of our psyche. It is the essence of who we are as a person. The soul expresses our human personality. It controls our thoughts, emotions and our will. When we submit our soul to the unction of the Holy Spirit, we accomplish all that God ordains for us to do each day. His Spirit iluminates His Word to bring healing to our soul. He even uncovers and heals childhood wounds, which we tried to forget, but which influence us every day of our lives from our subconscious mind. He also rids our soul of any turbulent thoughts fueled by negative emotions such as: worry, guilt, regret, anger, sadness, unrest, frustration, and fear. He restores our thoughts to equanimity and order.

Our spirit is a separate entity from our soul. Until we are born again by the Spirit of God, our spirit is dead. We have a body and soul, but not a spirit. Once we invite Jesus Christ to move in, He breathes His breath of life into our spirit and we are saved from the bondage of sin and set free to live a victorious life. Our spirit is the innermost portion of our triune being. It is where the Holy Spirit dwells within us. It is the command center from which we gain our daily marching orders, our comfort, our truth, our wisdom, and all the attributes of the His fruit (Galatians 5: 22). The Holy Spirit works from our spirit to restore the balance in our soul.

Prayer: 
Lord God, you restore our soul to a refreshing equilibrium under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the administrations of our Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14). You assuage our fears, vanquish our woes, restore our peace, and guide us every moment of our life. We are never alone. You never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Thought for the Day:
God shines His light into the corners of our soul, exposing carnality and sin, which wraps us in bondage and holds us hostage until He sets us free. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Battleground of the Mind

Read: 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13

Have you ever felt like you were going crazy? Nothing makes sense in your life. You have a war going on in your mind...like there is a whole crowd of people up there arguing! I have a simple explanation, and an even simpler solution for you.

Paul said it….“WE TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST."

Our soul contains our mind, will and emotions. In the Bible the soul is often referred to as the “heart.” This does not refer to our blood pumping organ, but our inner self ~ the soul. Paul learned that even though we are in a spiritual war, we don't have to use carnal weapons. God gave us divinely powered weapons to demolish all of Satan’s strongholds. We do this by taking every thought captive and having the mind of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5).

The imagination is where Satan likes to play. He perverts the truth and comes up with all sorts of lies to tell us, which unbelievably we accept as truth! Satan puts a thought there, and then we say, "Yeah!  That's right!" We dwell on it and believe his lies. Soon, we believe them as truth, and he sits back and laughs at us. He's got us right where he wants us.

The first negative thought in your mind is from Satan. It is his tempation to see if he can get your attention. Then, he tries to keep your attention by expounding on that first negative thought. If you agree with that thought, or if you entertain that thought and add other thoughts to it, then he’s got you right where he wants you.

But if you recognize that the first negative thought ~ the blasphemous, sexual, carnal, unholy, angry, bitter, resentful or belittling thought ~ is from Satan, then you can quote or read scripture to him, just like Jesus did on the mount after His 40 days of prayer and fasting.

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit lives in our Born Again spirit and He helps us to battle what the Bible calls...the old nature, the carnal nature, the flesh and the devil. It is a lifetime process. Our daily commission in found in Colossians 3:1: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” As we seek God and His kingdom, we will not walk in the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

As you know, “What we believe, determines how we act.” When we believe Satan's lies, we exhibit negative attitudes. We get "stinkin' thinkin'." Satan knows that if he captivates your mind, then he can control your actions also.

Our safeguard, therefore, is to follow the advice we already read in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: to bring our thoughts into obedience to Jesus and to put on the mind of Christ.

The Word of God tells us not to conform to the world, but to think about:
1. Whatever is true
2. Whatever is noble
3. Whatever is right
4. Whatever is pure
5. Whatever is lovely
6. Whatever is admirable
7. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy
8. Whatever you have learned or received...or heard from...or seen in Paul ( and other Godly men and women ) put it into practice (Philippians 4:8).

Throw out all those thoughts that do not measure up to this list! You will know you have finished the task when the peace of God again rules in your heart. Look at Philippians 4:7..."And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Being led by the Holy Spirit helps us to know the will of God and to have the peace of God. No more lunacy warring in your mind!  Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the carnal mind is enmity against God, because it is not subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7). If we are still carnal, then envy, strife, and divisions are common among us. Help us not to follow after the carnal thoughts, which fight against Your Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:3). Help us to walk by Your Spirit and to be led by Your Spirit moment by moment throughout the day.

Thought for the Day:
“Either you must learn to take your thoughts captive – or Satan will take you captive with your thoughts!” -  Kay Arthur

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spiritual Anorexia

Read: James 1: 22-27
 
“Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21


As a Pastor’s wife I often get discouraged when I see my husband pouring over the Bible for hours each week to prepare three sermons; and yet, very few people ever come to listen to them, and fewer still ever respond to the Word that he preaches.

He spends as many as 10 hours preparing each sermon. He starts by praying about which series or Biblical book to preach from. Then, he prays over each individual message as he prepares it. He studies the text, researches his subject, reads other sermons concerning the same text or topic, finds illustrations and humor to make it colorful and then he polishes it for days. When he stands in the pulpit, he already internalized his message and he preaches the words with all of his heart. Yet, it seems to go in one ear and right out the other of most of the people in the congregation.

Many preachers are in this same lonely position in the Body of Christ. They faithfully preach the message God gives them. They joyfully delight in the Word of the Lord. They walk faithfully before their God (Jeremiah 15:15-16). They love the Lord and dedicate their every waking moment only to Him. They strive to serve as God’s spokesmen and to speak only the Words He gives them (Jeremiah 15:19). They weave this passion into every sermon they preach, hoping to inspire others to share in their enthusiasm. Yet, the love of many is waxing cold (Matthew 24:12). No wonder the rate of salvations in evangelical churches diminishes ever year.

God’s prophets throughout the ages experienced this same indifference and apathy. Jeremiah was one man who lived with a passion for proclaiming the Word of the Lord. Yet, the people of Israel continually failed to repent and to follow God. After many years of this cold-hearted rejection, the Israelites heard this proclamation from God: "Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!" (Jeremiah 15:1).

As I was praying about this dilemma, I realized that many people in our churches today have spiritual anorexia. We take in the sacred meal provided for us in every church service, and then we purge everything we consumed as we walk out of the building. We fall back into our old habits and sinful ways, consuming carnal junk food during the week and starving our spirit until the next Sunday morning church service. I researched this idea and there are several authors who give detailed information about this topic.

Sometimes, we skip Sunday worship and stay home to sleep in, half-heartedly watching TV preachers to assuage our conscience. We hide our light under a basket full of dirty laundry and do not give repentance a second thought. We spend so much time in trivial pursuits that we rarely pick up our Bible to read at home. This behavior damages our divine health and even threatens our future spiritual life. Some of us do not even have a personal, life-changing relationship with the Savior of our soul. 

I want to challenge everyone who reads these words to make a commitment today to live as a doer of the Word and not a hearer only (James 1:22). God only blesses those who both hear His Words and walk in them (Luke 11: 28).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I pray for an increased spiritual hunger in the hearts of church people all over the world, but especially in America where hearts have grown cold. Give us a focused hunger, which is satisfied only by our obedience to Your Word. Use us to infect today’s society with a passion for more of You.

Thought for the Day:
Commit to live as a spiritually, well-nourished Child of God and share what you learn as you passionately consume His Word.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Great Debate

Read: Exodus 14:15-31 


"Was it not You who dried up the sea, The waters of the great deep; Who made the depths of the sea a road, so that the redeemed might cross over?" - Isaiah 51:10

The great futile debate today is whether God dried up the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross over on dry ground, or if He drowned the Egyptian army in ankle deep water! Either way, it is still a miracle. Either way, God proves once again that He is God. The Bible if full of what some people claim are unbelievable stories of how God cared for, protected, loved, judged and disciplined His people. These stories entertain children for hours; and they give the Christian hope that God is the same, yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

We can trust in this miracle-working Savior, who proves Himself strong for His people. His mercy is new every morning and His love and compassion never fail (Lamentations 3:22; 1 Corinthians 13:8). He speaks and the oceans obey Him (Mark 4:39), the earth trembles in His presence (Psalm 114:7), and the king's heart is in His hand and He directs it like a river wherever He pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

God had a plan before the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34) and each day draws us closer to its culmination. We rejoice with exceeding great joy as we see political, physical and spiritual signs in world events that fulfill His prophetic promises and bring us ever closer to His physical reappearing (1 Corinthians 1:7).

If you are not yet a blood bought, forgiven child of the King, Jesus Christ, repent and believe today.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, because of Your saving work on the cross, we are now citizens of heaven (Philippians 3: 20). Not only do we eagerly wait for our adoption day, but we also groan inwardly for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23) and for the revelation of the new heaven and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13).

Thought for the Day:
All creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. – Romans 8:19

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Victim to Victor


Read: Romans 8: 31-39

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.- Romans 8:34

Did you grow up and/or are you living in an abusive situation? Are you living in a perpetual downhill spiral that never seems to end? It is very easy to model our current life on the basis of our history and to choose to believe that our past and present is our “reality”. To be stuck in this victimized thinking, however, will continue to create negative energy in our soul and it will perpetuate the idea that we cannot help but to be victimized by life and others.

There is a huge need in most people today to be liberated in our beliefs, thinking, words and actions by the Word of God. Do you know how fortunate we truly are? God gave us the wonderful ability to make decisions. In reality we are never truly stuck. We can decide to create a new life and move forward no matter what our “reality” looks like. It may seem that we are powerless, but the truth is: we are actually more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

Even when you have a supportive family and friends, at some level you know that you are the only person who can get you out of the negative spiral in which you are living. This fact can feel terrifying. After all, aren’t you so grieved and broken already that the thought of getting strong and motivated and making balanced and authoritative decisions feels about as feasible as climbing Mount Everest without any equipment?

When we are shattered by hurt and loss, anything new, self-confronting and empowering seems light years away from our capabilities to achieve. However, the Good News is that when we are weak, God in us is strong for us. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Even if we are terrified and have to crawl along, or curl up in a corner somewhere and grieve for a while, Christ is waiting to help us to find the victory.

When we finally understand that God has a plan for our life, we realize that we really do want to hold onto and honor the life He has given us. Through His power, we can let down the walls within us that keep our shattered soul from being healed and set free.

Christ gives us the victory to know that our life CAN change for the better. This is how we overcome depression and defeat. This fact keeps us from getting sidetracked and drawn down by the upheavals and chaos of our circumstances and the people in our lives.

Humility is incredibly empowering and transformational. Humility admits that we cannot, but God can. The humility to admit that we are powerless leads us to surrender to God. Our most important function in our road to recovery is to submit to God as He develops His character and fruit within us.

It isn’t until we are forced to our knees that we finally understand God’s purpose in all the pain we experienced throughout our lifetime. As we release the pain of the past and survive, we start to realize that we truly will thrive through Christ in us. Then, He gives us the potential to experience the aspects of our life that our heart truly desires.

The key is to create a solid sense of Who We Are in Christ (see former post on this blog). Then regardless of what is occurring in our outer world we have these truths filling our personal concept of who we are. Jesus is our inner security, anchor, direction and purpose in life. Godly principles do not react to anything – they remain constant and consistent. Life evens out and things flow more smoothly. This strongly formed core of values is consistent in the face of outside influences. Life may be changeable, but Biblical values and principles are timeless and unchangeable.

This inner security comes from knowing our true identity in Christ and having healthy self-worth based on the fact that you are a child of God. With this fact firmly planted in our mind, we know that we have the ability to emotionally, and if necessary, to physically detach from situations outside of our self that we have no control over. This gives us a firm mental, emotional and spiritual foundation within our self.

Since Christ lives within us, Godly values and principles become our ultimate reality. All of our experiences are viewed through this lens, and our world completely changes. Even our vision of life, circumstances and ourselves begin to take on a new shape and are viewed from an eternal rather than an earthly perspective. We no longer react to life, but we act according to the direction of His Spirit within us.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus help us to submit our past, present and future to You, one moment at a time. Help us to view life from Your perspective and to love the things You love and to turn away from the things You despise. Help us to make Jesus the center of our focus and to walk in Your joy and peace throughout our life.

Thought for the Day:
But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinthians 15:57


Monday, April 23, 2012

Endless and Eternal

Read: John 14:16-21

“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” - 2 Corinthians 6:16

As my sister-in-Christ walked on the beach, she fairly fainted with excitement over her upcoming trip to her best friend’s home. In the next moment, the Lord stated a clear fact to her, “You are more excited to spend time with her than you are to spend time with Me.” This thought reminded her of Mark 12:30, "Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

Amazingly, the God and King of the universe desires companionship with us. So much so, that He sent His Son to die for us, and His Spirit to dwell within us. He created a communication between us that is endless and eternal. He requests that we access this fellowship with Him on a continual basis (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He desires our companionship throughout the day. He wants to lead us, guide us, bless us and bestow His wisdom upon us in each decision we make. He has a perfect plan for our life, and He wants to lead us in the way that we should go (Jeremiah 42:3). 

How much time do we spend fellowshipping with Our Father? How much attention do we give to the monumental fact that the Holy Spirit of God lives inside of us? Our busy schedules usually prevent this from happening.

Therefore, now is the moment to prioritize our time and to exclude all of our useless endeavors (1 John 1:6). Then, we can demote to its proper place in our life whatever crowds out or competes with our affection for God. Once we begin to walk in the Spirit, we will no longer reap the destruction of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We never need to live in powerlessness, fruitlessness and spiritual defeat ever again.

We also do not ever need to wonder if there is any validity to our Christian walk. What greater promise could Christ offer to the Christian than the assurance that we can walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and experience an abundant and fruitful life of purpose, meaning and adventure.

Jesus encourages us to cast our cares upon Him, since He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We learn that God is trustworthy as we walk with Him through life (1 John 5:14,15). If we will allow Him to do so, the Lord Himself solves our problems, teaches us through our trials, and carries our heavy burdens for us.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we desire to walk in Your presence each moment of our day and to live our lives as a praise to You. Fill us with your peace, joy and contentment. Draw us ever closer to Your heart.

Thought for the Day:
Blessings are not earned, but awarded.




Sunday, April 22, 2012

His Power Within Us

Read: Ephesians 1:18-21

"To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me."  - Colossians 1:29

For years I "labored" and "struggled" with my work for the Lord. But, just like Paul, I finally learned that it is only through His energy, which so powerfully works in me, that I can do all things (Philippians 4:13). On that day, I stopped relying on my own strength and abilities, and started learning to follow the leading of Christ’s Spirit minute by minute throughout the day.

The lovely thing about the word Paul uses in this verse for "energy" is that it refers to the power, which is as potent as dynamite. "That power is like the working (energy) of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the Heavenly realms now (Ephesians 1:19)." Through His death,
He made us members of His body, which gave us His fullness. His power fills everything in every way and it actively works in all Believers (Ephesians 1:23).

This exact same power that raised Christ from the dead is working in us all right now (Ephesians 1:20). The tragedy is that we seldom use this extraordinary gift. We wander aimlessly in life, pushed about by various circumstances, and guided by human philosophy rather than the Word of God. We tire easily and we get discouraged, depressed and bitter. We exist with a carnal perspective on life and we rarely achieve any gift of eternal value to offer back to God. How can we remedy this situation?

As we utilize His power within us, He gives us clear direction, and He helps us to focus on His will and to accomplish all that He planned for us. At times, God actually puts to flight every enemy that comes against us. For the most part, however, God uses this power to strengthen us, to help us to continue trusting Him in our daily walk and to support us as we accomplish His will for our lives.

God's path for our lives varies from day to day and is difficult at times, unless we rely on Him to always provides us with both the will and the power to accomplish all that He calls on us to do (Philippians 2:13). Remember that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). We find great fulfillment in life only as we fall more intimately in love with Jesus and keep Him as the center of our focus.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which You have called us, and the riches of our glorious inheritance as saints, as well as Your incomparably great power in us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19). We thank you for equiping us with all that we need to accomplish Your will in and through our lives. May You produce in us, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to You, and may we give You all the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.
- Hebrew 13:21

Thought for the Day:
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. - Romans 11:36

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why do the Wicked Prosper?

Read: Psalms 73:1-28

"For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (Psalm 73:3).

I can see why you would wonder why the ungodly get to sin all they want and it seems like God does not hold them accountable! Matthew 5: 45 tells us that God makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. It seems like they are allowed to have no consequences, while we often bear the burden of the consequences of their decisions. I can understand that you are exhausted, bitter and angry. David felt the same way when he was envious of the foolish and when he saw the prosperity of the wicked.

David eventually settled this issue in his own heart, though. In Psalm 73, David advises that we do not need to worry about the wicked or to envy those who do wrong. He observed that they eventually fade away like the grass and the flowers of spring. He advises that we trust in the Lord and do well, because God will allow us to live safely in the land and to prosper in the end. David realized that when he took delight in the Lord, God gave him the desires of his heart.

His advised to us is to commit everything we do to the Lord and to trust Him, because He will help us. He will make our innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of our cause will shine like the noonday sun. David cautions us to be still in the presence of the Lord, and to wait patiently for Him to act. In the process we no longer need to worry about evil people prospering, or to fret about their wicked schemes. We no longer need to be angry, if we trust in the Lord.

The wicked plot against the godly, they curse us and defy us; but the Lord just laughs, for He sees their day of judgment coming. The wicked draw their swords and string their bows to kill the poor and the oppressed, to slaughter those who do right. However, their swords will stab them in their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. Sometimes, we see wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when we look again, they will be gone. A wonderful future awaits those who love and live for God, but the rebellious will be destroyed; they have no future. Even though the wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to harm us; the Lord will not let the wicked succeed.

Luke 16 tells us that a rich man received what was good during his lifetime. On the other hand, the humble man who ate crumbs from his table received evils in his life. As a consequence, therefore, the humble man is consoled in heaven, but the proud man suffers pain in hell. Joseph testified to his brothers that the evil they had done to him had been turned into good by the hand of their Father in Heaven (Genesis 45:7).In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet expresses his concern about what seemed to be the indifference of a just God over the horrible wickedness rampant in Judah, which was causing those who were righteous to suffer.

Many things which seem unjust and unfair to us now, with our limited vision and understanding, will become clear if we will be patient, suspend judgment for a while, and have faith in our Heavenly Father. We need to realize that when our vision is blurred, patience and time are essential elements in restoring our proper perceptions (Malachi 3:13-18).

Job cries out in chapter 24 about this very same issue. He wonders why he, a righteous man, is so persecuted, when those around him who are sinners are spared. I believe that the book of Job was written so that we would have a better understanding of the problem of suffering. We will have times of suffering in this world, and we will not fully understand why; but God will restore all things to us on this earth in His perfect timing, just like He did for Job.

It is so much better to be godly and to have a little, than to be evil and rich. We can make God’s laws our focus, so we will never slip from His path. Eventually, the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord will care for the godly. Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent, and we will receive an inheritance that lasts forever. We will not be disgraced in hard times; even in famine we will have more than enough. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of our lives. Though we stumble, we will never fall, for the Lord holds us up by the hand. God takes care of His own.

Jesus gives us peace unlike anything the world has to offer. So do not allow your heart to be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27). The wicked do prosper sometimes, but only for a short while; and whatever suffering the righteous may endure is only temporary. In the end, it will be the other way around. The wicked will suffer damnation for their behavior, while the righteous ones, who endure earthly trials well, will be blessed with peace and crowned with glory in heaven where it really matters the most.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the wicked have no advantage over the righteous when they are dying. They may gain enjoyment and their souls may seem happy in this life; but in dying, if not before, they will pay the consequences of their sins. Help us not to get discouraged about the current affairs in our life. Help us to look forward to everlasting life, with many rewards for our faithful service to You.

Thought for the Day:
David pronounces, “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the Godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

What Are You Seeking?

Read: Deuteronomy 4: 29-31

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. - John 5:30

When I first gave my life to Christ, I kept forgetting that God has a perfect will for our lives. I went off on one detour after another, accomplishing good, but failing to walk in His will. Then I learned from Jesus’ example, and I started asking God to guide my steps moment by moment throughout the day. As I followed the leading of His Spirit, I found myself bearing much more spiritual fruit and feeling a deeper sense of fulfillment than ever before in my life.
 
As the years progressed, though, even after I did what I thought God gave me instructions to do, it did not turn out very well. I started to doubt that I ever even heard God’s voice. Therefore, I hesitated the next few times I felt the Spirit nudge me in a certain direction.

I withdrew from ministering to those He brought my way: I walked right past a person that He directed me to speak to, I ignored some sinful behavior in a friend that I knew would harm her, I smiled at an off-colored joke so I would not offend the teller. Eventually, I even rolled over in bed one more time instead of getting up early to read my Bible.

Thankfully, God got my attention. I learned that my murky vision was similar to the deep darkness just before the dawn. God had wanted me to obey Him regardless of the circumstances, the consequences and the outcome. He showed me that He gave me these barren times of ministry in order to strip me of self-reliance and self-sufficiency and to teach me to stop using my human reasoning.

He just wanted me to draw closer to Him, to wait on Him and to obey His Spirit’s leading each and every time. I tentatively resumed my ministry to others. As I kept my eyes on Him and not on the state of affairs or the outcome of my actions, light appeared on the horizon. This new dawning helped me to clearly see God’s purpose behind His directions, even if the outcome was not what I expected. What I eventually learned was that my only responsibility is to obey Him, regardless of how or even “if” the other person ever responded. 

Prayer:
Lord, teach me to walk worthy of Your calling and to patiently wait on You. Do not let me fall into the trap of limiting my obedience to You, because I am depending upon results that I can see and measure. Help me to be willing to offend a friend or to look silly to someone I would rather impress, in the process of obeying Your Spirit one moment at a time throughout the day.

Thought for the Day:
God opens doors for us that we could never even imagine.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Passing the Examination

Read: Hebrews 4: 12-13

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith;" - 2 Corinthians 13:5a

Having to take an exam often strikes terror in our heart. The idea of failing and looking foolish, or of disappointing the people we want to impress, causes us a great deal of trepidation. However, a test is really a very positive tool. It points out the areas in our life where we are already excelling, at the same time that it illuminates areas where we need to improve.

Examining our thoughts, motives, plans, goals and activities increases our productivity and cuts out waste and excesses that hinder our efficiency in life. Most programs created to help people to overcome addictions encourage their participants to examine their life and to evaluate their core issues and beliefs. God encourages us to do this same thing in Corinthians.

The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of every man. It searches out our innermost thoughts and the reality of who we really are (Proverbs 20:27). This inventory gives us a true picture of our liabilities and our assets. Once we know them, we can then ask the Spirit of God to replace our faults with His fruit and to use our strengths for His Kingdom.

Sometimes, people decide that there are portions of their soul that are better off ignored. We have a past that we are not proud of, or that is full of abuse and misunderstanding. We do not want to face all of those issues again. We think that they are behind us, but we do not realize that they filter up from our subconscious mind and affect every decision we ever make, every attitude we ever adopt and every emotion we ever feel.

However, if we face even our darkest fears, attitudes and desires, we give God the opportunity to fill our empty soul with His character. Our lives are richer, fuller and more dynamic; and we can actually make a true difference in our world.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I want to open my heart while Your Spirit searches my innermost being. Wash me clean as I read Your Word and forgive me of my transgressions. Guide me with Your Spirit each and every new day and use me for your Kingdom.

Thought for the Day:
Clarity in our soul brings fullness to our spirit. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jesus Knows

Read: Psalm 69:13-20

"Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? -  John 12:27

Life is so hard sometimes, and so often full of pain and sorrow. We struggle with trouble and trials, which continually flood our life. Eventually, we have to tread water just to be able to breathe. Threatening to choke the very life from us, wave after wave of stress and betrayal wash over us. We wonder, sometimes, how we will ever muster the strength to tread water through another day. We are scorned, disgraced and shamed; surrounded by enemies. This breaks our heart and we feel helpless. We look for sympathy, but there is none; for comforters, but we find none. Well, I am here to tell you that Jesus knows exactly how you feel (Isaiah 53:3).

God took on human form and came to live as Jesus on the earth. As God, He knew His mission, and He set His face toward the cross. However, as a man, He experienced problems similar to ours. He suffered from step-sibling rivalry (John 1:11), the stresses of making a living (Matthew 6:3), the sorrow of rejection (Isaiah 53:3), the strain of false accusations (Luke 23:4-5), the pain of betrayal (John 13:2) and the adjustments of growing up in obscurity in an Israeli town occupied by a foreign nation (John 1:10).

In addition to all of this, however, He also suffered spiritual separation from the Father, which ripped a cry of anguish from His chest (Matthew 27:46). He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with the deepest grief, just like we are. Due to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, however, we will never experience this utter abandonment and rejection from our Father God.

Prior to the crucifixion, Jesus drew aside to the garden of Gethsemane with a few of his trusted friends. He requested that they pray with Him, to keep watch with Him on His last day of freedom on this earth. Then, He went a few feet away from them and pleaded to God for another way to satisfy the penalty of our sin. Yet, even in the face of the horrendous crucifixion, He went forward with the Father's will, to bring God glory and to bring us Salvation.

With Christ in us, we too can follow God’s will for our life, ready to do whatever He requires of us; no matter what it costs, regardless of how much it hurts, and in spite of how long it takes. God gives us the presence of His Holy Spirit to sustain us throughout our lifetime. When we come to the place where God possesses all of our heart, we receive God’s abundant blessings, which bring far greater joy than the fulfillment of any of our selfish desires.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I give You my life. Let it unfold, not according to my will, plans, goals or desires, but according to Your will and purpose. Use me as You see fit, and change lives by Your Spirit dwelling within me.

Thought for the Day:
Only through complete surrender and submission to God’s perfect plan for our life can we ever find true fulfillment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Abiding Peace and Joy

Read: Luke 6: 27-31

Bear with each other (and yourself) and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (or yourself). Forgive everyone (and yourself) as the Lord forgave you.” - Colossians 3:13  

Bitterness rises from woundedness deep within our soul, and can be rooted years back into our past. Pride is one lie that guards the secrets of our past. We do not want to admit to ourselves, nor to anyone else, the things that others did to us. We block these memories from our conscious mind, and we build a wall of pride and sometimes anger all around them. We falsely believe that these strong, negative emotions will protect us from any past, present and future hurt.
 
What these negative emotions actually do, however, is to block our soul from receiving the fullness of the love that God has for us now. Until we forgive ourselves and others, Satan gains the advantage over us. If we refuse to forgive, we give Satan permission to control that part of our soul, and to inflict his demons on our body and spirit as well. He holds us captive and the fruit of the Holy Spirit cannot manifest in that area of our soul. (2 Corinthians 2: 10-11; Hebrews 12: 16)

We do not need anger and pride to protect us when we have the King of kings as our mighty stronghold and fortress. As we put our trust in Christ, we live in abiding peace and joy ~ not only in our spirit, but deep within our soul as well. If you do not have this peace, then ask God for it. Do not allow Satan to deceive you with his lies. (Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 30:15)

When we have the King of kings hovering over us and sheltering us under His wings, we can forgive past hurts, and put future hurts into proper perspective. We can look for the seed of a miracle in every negative circumstance, because God promises to work all things, even the bad things, out for our good. (Romans 8: 28)

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help us to forgive ourselves and others and to release them to you. We have no need to extract vengence on our own. Vengence is Yours, and You promise to repay each one according to his own works.

Thought for the Day:
The Bible never commands us to like someone. God only requires that we allow HIM to love the person through us.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Abundant Life

Read: Galatians 3: 1-3

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him…” - Philippians 3:10 (Amplified)

As a baby Christian, I misunderstood His new life in me. I thought, “Now that I’ve found God, I no longer need to seek Him. Now I just need to be good enough to deserve His love.” So, I got up from my knees, sighed in determination, pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and went to work for God.

After ten years of striving, I finally heard what God wanted me to know. Our situation today is much the same as what existed among the foolish Galatians Christians, prior to Paul writing his letter to them. Having been born again by trusting in the finished work of Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit within them, they had been seduced by Satan and the Judaizers - religious legalists who imposed rules and regulations on them to allegedly guarantee them spiritual maturity. Their definition of abundant life had withered to a desperate struggle in which they sought to keep trying to please God. These Christians lived in a constant struggle to please God by keeping the Law of Do's and Don'ts. Does that sound like anyone you know?

Paul hit the nail on the head in Chapter 3: 1-3..."1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"

That just about sums it up, doesn't it? We trust in Christ for Salvation, but then we try to perfect our selves by our works. Sanctification ~ the process of becoming holy and pleasing to God ~ is a LIFELONG process. There is no shortcut. We did not come to Christ by our works (Titus 3:4-6; Eph 2:8-10), it was a free gift from God. Therefore, we cannot sanctify our selves by our works either; it is also a free gift from God.

There is no striving in our walk with God. We do not need to spend time nor energy on trying to overcome the flesh or on trying to earn God’s love. The only striving that the Bible commands us to do is:
1.) to enter his narrow gate through Salvation
2.) to enter into His rest.


Look at Hebrews 4:9-12… “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest."

We cannot be good enough, holy enough or spiritual enough to deserve God’s love. We already have God's love, which does not depend on our behavior. If the Christian walk depended on us, then we would have no need for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He died because we can never be good enough to earn God’s love.

It’s tough to enter the rest of God. That’s why it takes effort and striving. Once we’re there, however, we can actually stop striving and rest. God gives us His unconditional love freely as a gift. We only have to open our hearts wide and receive His gift of love. When you realize the truth of this concept, you will sit in your quiet place and feel His love cascading over you like a waterfall.

Jesus completed the work of our perfection on the cross. Now we only need to allow Jesus to help us make a conscious effort to walk in obedience to His Will, regardless of the circumstances around us. Now, the focus of our purpose in life is to follow hard after God, to drink as a hart from the waterbrook, to come into an intimate relationship with the Lover of our soul.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, whom do I have in heaven, but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail; but God, You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26) You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11)

Thought for the Day:
I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life. - Psalm 63:2-3 (NIV)




Saturday, April 14, 2012

Living Water

Read: Acts 9:1-31

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'" - John 7:38

Have you ever noticed how restless and unsatisfied the human race is? The more laden with earthly treasures we are the more dissatisfied we get. We seek relevance and significance, but gain no wisdom or understanding. Searching for fulfillment, we flit from one activity to another, swooning over the latest fashion until the next one is introduced and drifting aimlessly from one relationship to another. Thirsting for more of life and hungry for adventure, but nothing ever gratifies us. Nothing ... ever ... does.

The office, the mall, the public library, retail stores and the city park are full of thirsty people who are drinking from fountains that will never satisfy. Billionaires die with shrunken bodies scarred by addictions, millionaires are jailed for petty theft, movie stars change partners almost as often as they change their wardrobe. We are all searching for the same thing…salvation from ourselves.

Through His sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross Christ provided a well in the midst of a dry and dusty land. Only the life giving water that Jesus Christ supplies can quench our thirst for satisfaction. Once you drink deeply from this well, you breathe a sigh of relief that expels all of the stress and anguish bottled up within your soul. The toll from the years of searching falls away in that instant and you are renewed from the inside out.

Although there is no way to convince anyone of their need to drink from His well of living water, we can still lead them to it. All we need to do is to open His Word and expose them to His truth, sharing with them how He eternally satisfied our thirst.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, Your river of life flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1). Help us to step out from behind our fears and excuses and share Your life giving water with everyone we meet. Help us to remember that their blood is required on our hands if we do not warn them of their impending doom (Ezekiel 3:18). Then, through their conversion, allow many others to see the radical change You bring into our lives.

Thought for the Day:
The adventure of new life in Christ begins when the self-defeating patterns of the old life are left behind and we drink from His well of living water.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Christian Landmarks

Read: Revelation 18: 4-5

"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28)

Have you ever noticed that you can tell exactly where the scene in a movie is taking place because of the landmarks the director includes in the opening shots? The Golden Gate Bridge, the Liberty Bell, Central Park, the Lincoln Memorial, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, the Gateway Arch, Washington Monument, the Alamo, Niagara Falls and Old Faithful, just to name a few.

Then we have a score of city skylines, such as the Seattle Space Needle, Chicago’s Skyscrapers, New York’s Empire State Building and the Las Vegas Casinos. We also have Biblical landmarks such as the Tower of Babel, Golgotha Hill, the Eight Gates of Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall, Mt. Sinai and the Sea of Galilee.

In the context of the Bible, landmarks show ownership. In Canaan Land, a landmark showed each of the tribes where their land was located, and where the land of the sons of the head of each tribe was situated, and to the grandsons and so on down the line of descendants.

In our day and time, of course, there is also a spiritual application to landmarks. God gave us landmarks that we are not to move. The Bible is one Christian landmark that proclaims that God’s Word belongs to the children of God. Within the Bible there are also landmarks of our faith that God does not want us to move. The virgin birth of Jesus, the resurrection of Christ from the tomb, the inerrancy of the Bible and the second coming of Christ to name a few. Holiness, faithfulness and walking in the Truth are also some of them.

In the modern church, however, many heritage landmarks of our faith are removed. The cross is taken down from the sanctuary. The preacher no longer stands and proclaims God’s Word; but instead he sits on a stool and tells stories. The Christmas tree replaces the Nativity set during the holiday season. Some Christians are even forsaking the assembling together with other Believers because it is their only day off from work or because they had a bad experience in a church and never want to go through that again (Hebrews 10:25).

Christians no longer tithe, they just give God whatever change they happen to have on Sunday. Christian women dress provocatively just as the women of the world do. People work on Sunday rather than gathering to worship with other Believers. New Bible translations leave out important portions of Biblical truth. Some churches preach that everyone will eventually be reconciled to God, even Lucifer; forsaking the landmark truth that the only way to get to heaven is by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians we are called to conduct our lives differently than the people in the world. We are called by the Lord to be separate and to come out from among them (2 Corinthians 6:17). Our actions, speech, values, attitude and character are different because we have the Holy Spirit residing and reigning in our spirit. There is also a landmark of being fishers of men, of giving people the opportunity to trust their life to Christ. When we win people to Christ, however, let’s not leave out any of the Lord’s landmarks when we disciple them.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the princes of Judah moved the landmarks and upon them You poured out Your wrath like water (Hosea 5:10). Help us to be mindful of the important landmarks that You placed in Your Word for us to keep and to honor. Help us to watch the path of our feet, so that all of our ways will be established in Your ways. (Proverbs 4:26).

Thought for the Day:
“Come out from the world and be separate,” says the Lord, “and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my children.” - 2 Corinthians 6:17