Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Feasting on God's Word


I have spent the last few months gardening in containers, which are spaced throughout my tiny outside flower garden. Some plants did better than the others. My tomatoes flourished and are still producing juicy, rich tomatoes. The peppers did well and are still sparsely bearing fruit. However, the okra, squash, green beans, celery and onions all failed to generate any usable fruit.

This reminds me of Jesus’ parable concerning the four types of soil: some seed fell upon the path, others among the thorns, many within the rocks and then just a few on the good soil. If the ground is hard, thorny or rocky, there is no room for the roots. It is only in a garden of prepared soil that a plant can take hold and grow to full maturity.

Similarly, our spiritual food is found in the rich depths of the Word of God. The only way to withstand the winds of adversity or the scorching trials and temptation we encounter in this life is to have our roots sunk deeply into a spiritually fertile environment. Jesus said that we will know His disciples by their fruit.

If His disciples are to produce fruit, they need good, rich, tilled, spiritually fertilized soil. As we receive God’s Word with conviction and repentance, we are ready to receive the proper nourishment. We feast on God’s Word, reading it every day to prepare the soil, so that we will bloom where God plants us.

Many of today’s churches are barren wastelands with nothing spiritually nutritious to offer the Believer. They focus on providing glitz and glitter to attract people, and then they supply only spiritual junk food, rather than wholesome nourishment. However, God is still raising up an army of teachers with every generation - those people who faithfully sow the seeds of the truth of God’s Word.

Father God, remind us to feast on Your Word throughout the day. We eat three physical meals a day, and we need at least that many spiritual meals in order to have a healthy spirit and an intimate relationship with You. Provide us with teachers who seek You in prayer before they share Your Word. Lead us to a caring and loving fellowship of Believers. Even in these end times, please keep a remnant of spiritual teachers, preaching Your truth on which we can feast, Biblical principles, which enable us to bear much fruit.

Thought for the Day:
A lifetime commitment to feast on God’s Word gives us the spiritual strength to minister for Him in every area in which He calls us.
– Ephesians 2:10


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

There is No Condemnation

Satan loves to use condemnation to defeat God’s Saints. His condemnation causes us to sink into the quicksand of shame with no visible way out. We see our faults and are burdened by our failings. Satan plants lies in our soul during each perceived failing; and we readily believe them, because of our feelings of hopelessness.
God, on the other hand, does not condemn us, He convicts us. Conviction reveals our guilt with a desire for repentance. Repentance means to turn away from sin and move toward holiness. Even if we never commit some gross sin of immorality or murder, we are still sinners (Romans 3:23). No amount of good works or self-effort can free us from the penalty of our sins.
Trusting in Jesus is our only means of salvation (John 14:6). His Holy Spirit breathes God’s breath of life into us and our spirit is no longer dead in sin. We completely surrendered our goals, dreams and aspiration in life to God’s will for us (Ephesians 2:10). We serve God with authentic devotion each moment of the day. We no longer desire a life of worldly pursuits and willful sin.
God’s Spirit converts our sinful nature to the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We realize that God’s presence is within us and the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us. We are truly saved from hell and going to heaven (2 Corinthians 13:5-6; Lamentations 3:40-42). God removes our condemnation by washing us as clean as snow, and giving us a new heart and spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:25-27). 
Father God, thank You for washing us clean, and giving us righteous desires and Your Spirit to direct us (Colossians 2:13-15). Thank You also that Jesus nailed our sins to the cross and blotted out the charges proved against us. Remind us not to live for You in our human effort. Help us to allow Christ to richly dwell in us as Your Body, so that whatever we do in word or deeds, it is all done for Your glory and honor (Colossians 3:16-18).
Thought for the Day:
God took away Satan's power over our life and openly displayed to the whole world the triumph of Christ over Him; so that there is no longer any condemnation for those who love God and who are called to serve Him in His purpose for our life. – Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:15

Monday, December 29, 2014

Trusting in the Almighty

The Lord preserves our life and inspires our devotion to Him (Psalm 97:10). He is our God and saves everyone who trusts in Him (Psalm 86:2). Our eyes are on the Lord, and we take refuge in Him. He will never leave our soul – our mind, will and emotions – destitute (Psalm 141:8). He is our constant help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Even if the earth erupts in multiple tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanoes, which level the mountains, surge the roaring waves from the sea and level the earth with quakes, we have no need to be afraid (Psalm 46:2-3). We simply cry out to Him, who is our provision for as long as we live on this earth (Psalm 142:5).

God listens to our prayers and pays attention to our requests. He faithfully answers us with His righteous choices (Psalm 143:1). He allows those who trust in Him to experience His unfailing love with each new morning.  As we lift up our thoughts, choices and feelings to Him, He reveals His direction for our day (Psalm 143:8).

God’s hand deals out blessings and trials as we need them for our perfection. He allows defeat to mold us into His divine nature. He uses adversity to prove His faithfulness and to increase our faith in Him. Our weakness proves our need for His strength. Our independence melts in the furnace of affliction and we depend on Him more each day.

Father God, help us to listen to Your Spirit so that we may decrease as You increase in our life (John 3:30). Give us a hunger for Your life-giving Word of Truth, which nourishes and satisfies the longing of our soul (Psalm 107:9). Replace our hardened heart with one of flesh that is pliable under the nurturing of Your Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 11:19).

Thought for the Day:
We will not harden our heart to the Truth of God’s Word, but respond to every phrase, and trust in the Almighty as we follow the direction of His voice. – John 10:27; Hebrews 3:15

Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Due Season


There is a common plight among preachers today, as well as with those who profess Christ, but did not sincerely repent. They fall away from the calling, which God has on their life (Ephesians 2:10). Even authentic Christians grow weary in the ministry, especially in these last days of apostasy, with hearts that turn cold towards the Gospel.

We can draw courage, however, from the fact that if we do not faint, we will reap God’s reward (Galatians 6:9). Sharing the gospel of Christ with an unbeliever, and watching the light dawn in their face, is the most fulfilling experience this side of heaven. God’s truth transforms them as we witness a 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 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.

God gives the Harvest of souls in His perfect timing. There is no need for us to struggle or strain, because the battle is the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). He is the Lord of the Harvest (Matthew 9:38). We plow, we sow and we trust that the seeds, which we broadcast, will eventually bear fruit. Through faithful service, we will reap in due season, if we do not give up.

Father God, when we arrive in Heaven, a host of Believers will welcome us, some of whom we never met before that day. They are there with us because of something You used us to say or do, which changed their life or the life of someone they know. 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:
We may win one person to Christ, who will eventually win a multitude, just because we took a moment to share a testimony of what God did in our life.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

No Reputation

People often filter what we say through the lenses of their own experiences and come to a faulty conclusion. This gives us two options: to try to correct their perception or to ignore their remarks. I usually endeavor to clarify what I said, but if they still misunderstand, then I just change the subject. I learned to do this because of Jesus’ example. He did not attempt to maintain His reputation.

When He was reviled and misunderstood, He did not berate in return (1 Peter 2:23-24). His life was the epitome of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance, and ours can be too (Ephesians 4:32). Whether the offense is a major event, such as physical abuse, or if it consists of habitual, smaller impositions such as lies and betrayal, we can still forgive the offenders (Matthew 5:44).

When we consider the life of Christ and what He endured on this earth, it helps us not to grow weary of the way we are overlooked, discounted, abused, ridiculed and exploited (Hebrews 12:3). When we bless those who curse us and pray for those who hurt or use us (Luke 6:28), God continually blesses us and gives us so many reasons to rejoice (Psalm 109:28).

We do not act as a doormat, but we do turn the other cheek. We do not submit to abuse, but we do forgive the abuser. We can care for and nurture our needs and still love others through the love of God in us. It is only by sincerely wishing others the best, that our healing is complete. The only person in our life, which we need to impress, is God; and He loves us enough to die for us.

Father God, make us vessels of Your peace. When we are condemned, help us to bless; when we are wounded, help us to share Your healing love with the offender. Remind us that You did not defend your reputation and there is no reason for us to do so either. Your opinion of us is the only one that really matters. Keep us focused on eternity and help us to realize that this world will soon end.

Thought for the Day
If we do not repay evil or insult in kind, but give love in return, we will inherit God’s blessings. – 1 Peter 3:9

Friday, December 26, 2014

Receiving God's Love


I grew up and then married into homes with conditional love. As a child, I wished on the first star every night that I would be good, so my parents would love me. As a young bride, I tried to do everything my husband wanted, so I would earn his appreciation and love. As a baby Christian, I made continual lists of every commandment, which I discovered in God’s Word, so that I could earn God’s love.

I strove for half my life to win approval from those I loved. It was ten years after I came to Christ that I finally realized that God’s love is not only a free and unconditional gift, but that it also lasts forever (1 John 3:1). We trust in God’s love for Salvation, and we can trust in His love for every area of our life (Psalm 86:14; Galatians 3:1-3).

We do not need to spend time or energy on trying to earn God’s love (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). Even when we were dead in sin, God’s great mercy and love reached out and saved us (Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 John 4:9-11). Nothing in heaven or earth can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39). We are crucified with Christ and He loves us too, and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20).

We cannot be good enough, holy enough or spiritual enough to deserve God’s love (Hebrews 4:9-12). It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). If the Christian walk depended on us, then we would have no need for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. As we allow the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit to fill our soul and spirit to the point of saturation, we bask in the Sonshine of His love.

Father God, as baby Christians, we continue to experience negative thoughts and attitudes, but we want to have Your mind within us. Remind us to set our boundaries to protect us from the negative people in our lives that tear us down (1 Corinthians 11:1). Please bring us to a place of inner healing and help us to walk in complete serenity through faith in Your goodness (Jobs 34:19). You live in us, rejoice over us with joy, quiet us by Your love and exult over us with singing (Zephaniah 2:17). You diminish all of our fears and insecurities, because You care about us (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Since God in us is love, we can love and forgive our self and love one another. – 1 John 4:7-8



Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Greatest Gift of All



When we judge our self according to the scale, which the world uses to measure popularity and success, we may come up lacking. Life seems unfair, because other people have greater advantages than we do when we consider the temporal blessing they may receive. Yet, no matter how many possession we acquire, they never satisfy us.

Spiritually, the children of God have the richest of all blessings. We have Christ in us, who is both our hope and our greatest gift (Colossians 1:27). God is the hope of all people, from the ends of the earth and to the farthest seas (Psalm 65:6). He gives us more than this world could ever offer us (Psalm77:11-15). He gives us Himself (Psalm 89:1-2, 5-8).

We may fear giving up control of our life to God, because He may require things from us, which would further tarnish our earthly popularity and reputation. However, if we actually gain our personal identity and status for success from Christ in us, rather from our personal talents and achievements, we realize that our real worth is based on the love of Christ (John 3:16-17; Romans 8:35-39).

God’s greatest gift to us is His sacrifice of His own Son (Revelation 13:8). Jesus paid the price of our redemption and freed us from a worthless life of sin, giving us His free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23; Psalm 2:4). Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High God will rest in Him. He is our refuge and our strength in whom we can always trust (Psalm 91:1-2).

Father God, because we love You, You will deliver us. You protect us as we acknowledge You. You answer us when we call on You. You deliver us from trouble and honor us. You satisfy us with a long life of salvation (Psalm 91:14-16). We give You thanks for Your loving kindness, which endures forever. Your unfailing love produces wonderful blessings for us. You satisfy our thirsty soul and You fill our hungry soul with many good things (Psalm 107:1, 8-9).

Thought for the Day:
God gives us the greatest gifts of all; never forget His benefits and bless His holy name. – Psalm 103:1

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our Divine Identity


Human beings are born with a body and soul, which are alive, but our spirit is dead on arrival. Our spirit is buried under the layers of generational sin since the time of Adam and Eve (Ephesians 2:1-5). Our living soul – our mind, will and emotions – is fragile and often fails under the weight of life. Circumstances beat us down relentlessly.

Our dead spirit and our unhealthy soul affect our body as well. Without Christ as our Savior we are crippled in life. We search relentlessly to find the missing piece, which will make us whole. What we lack is the vital power of God. No one is intrinsically good except God (Mark 10:18). Therefore, we need Christ to move into our life.

Once we come to Christ we are totally complete in Him (Colossians 2:9-10). Jesus is our only way, truth and life (John 14:6). We have no meaningful existence without Him (2 Corinthians 13:5). He lives through us, making good choices, which last for eternity (Colossians 3:3). He anoints us with His Holy Spirit and power (Acts 10:38).

We live, move and have our existence only in Jesus (Act 17:28). Christ actually does the work of God through us (Romans 12:15; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:27). Our true identity as Authentic Christians comes from Christ living in us and expressing God’s character through us (Hebrews 13:20; Galatians 5:22-23).

We are all united with Christ in His Body. He uses us as individual members, each with unique gifts and talents. We work in ministries both to a corporate, church Body and to the dying world around us. God equips us to walk in His will through Christ in us. We live to fulfill His eternal purpose with our life (Matthew 11:29; Ephesians 2:10).

Father God, You give us Your eternal life, which no one can take from us (John 10:28). We are unified with You, and we are beneficiaries of Your divine will (1 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4). We have constant fellowship with You, Your Son and Your Spirit (1 John 1:3, 9; Phil 2:1). Thank You for seating us in heavenly places in Your Son (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 2:6). We give You all the praise, honor and glory.

Thought for the Day:
Any identity not centered in Christ is merely temporary and fleeting.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Overcoming Sin


The more often we surrender our thoughts, choice and feelings to temptations from the flesh, the devil and the world, the stronger the temptation is the next time it comes. When we shut out the warning from our conscience and God’s Spirit, we arrive at the place where we can no longer hear from God at all (Hebrews 10:35-38).

Our sin separates us from Him and diminishes our resistance to sin. We lose our peace and joy. We no longer experience God’s pleasure in us. We feel the conviction of God’s Spirit and struggle with our decisions and their consequences. The Holy Spirit within us is always ready to empower us to break the cycle of sin so that we can walk in God’s righteousness (Philippians 2:13).

When we stop expecting our self to overcome sin, and focus on the fact that Jesus already won the victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57), we have stronger will power to resist the temptation in the first place. Jesus walked in sinless perfection, and He abides in every authentic, Born Again Believer.

He helps us to remember the promises of God and to trust Him to provide us with everything we need to live a successful and fulfilled life (1 John 2:17). We no longer feel the need to protect our self, because God works miracles from the seed of every trial. We lose all desire to defend our self, because God’s opinion of us is the only one which matters. We live in freedom from sin through God’s Spirit in us.

Father God, give us Your eyes to judge between right and wrong, so that we never lose the joy of our salvation or the comfort of abiding in Your presence. May we always see sin for the degradation it brings and desire less of the comforts of the flesh and more of the ecstasy of the spirit, which comes from walking in your presence.

Thought for the Day:
May we never become so accustomed to sin that we consider it normal behavior.



Monday, December 22, 2014

Not My Will, but Yours


Life often requires a balancing act. We find ourselves thrown off center by confusion or a catastrophe, which comes when we least expect it. Our normal peaceful life spins out of control. Each compartment of our life, which we meticulously created to provide us with security and a safe haven, suddenly tilts to one side.

We feel disoriented, insecure and fearful. Reacting with negative emotions can create even more problems. We panic and make poor decisions. We hectically, yet unsuccessfully, try to manage the disruptive people and events in our life in an attempt to make us feel safe again, but this never helps. In fact, it usually increases our anxiety, when these people react to the frustration we create in their lives.

Part of the problem occurs when we acquire more possessions than we need. Our life slowly sinks under a burden of stress created by trying to pay for this accumulation. Another factor comes if we lean toward making sinful decisions, because we end up reaping what we sow. A third aspect transpires when we tip under the weight of the demands, which others place on us.

So, let’s simplify our life. We can sell unnecessary possessions and discipline our spending habits, make wiser choices in the future and maintain a life of purity and serenity. We can also simplify time and energy, which other people demand from us, by doing on that which God’s Spirit directs us to do for them. Peace comes when we trust God to order our lives (James 1:2-4).

Lord Jesus, as we walk the tightrope of life, help us to focus on the equilibrium You provide for us within each moment that we live, rather than focusing on the spinning details of our negative circumstances (Hebrews 12:2). Life wavers like the ocean, with a continuous ebb and flow, but You give us the words of the prayer, which never fails: "Father, not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42-43)

Thought for the Day:
When we trust God more and strive less, serenity seeps into every area of our life, no matter how the circumstances play out around us.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Opposites Attract

God made men and women with differences. We compliment each other's weaknesses with our individual strengths. We serve in different functions in our union, which enhances our productivity. Men and women actually have the same basic needs, but we want them provided for in different ways. Sadly, these differences often drive a wedge between two people.

When a woman thinks of romance, she envisions sweet gestures, thoughtful gifts and romantic words. They want focused attention and help around the house. When a man thinks of romance, he pictures a trip together to the sporting goods store, or the fishing hole or the hockey game. Many men believe that "bringing home the bacon" is enough work for one person and they resent family expectations.

Women want their man to look nice; but whether he is in jeans or a fine suit, it does not really matter. Most men like their women to look like a supermodel. They do not want their wife walking around with uncombed hair and no make-up, or in a tattered t-shirt and jeans. Men appreciate it when women make an effort to look and smell their best.

There are exceptions, but women usually find it easier to express their feelings and to communicate what they need and want. Many men find it hard to communicate. It is easier for them to show their love than to say it. Some even bottle up their feelings and an avalanche of accumulated resentment finally buries their love. The couple ends up frustrated and growing apart.

As virtual strangers, the only hope we have is for both genders to honestly communicate with each other and to volunteer how we feel and what we need rather than to keep our partner guessing. We can ask our mate to stop doing something that offends us, to start doing something we are failing to receive or to change the way we both do things and to serve one another as Christ serves the church (Galatians 5:13).

Father God, You are preparing us as the Bride of Christ. We are learning Jesus' character and how to communicate with Him on an intimate basis. Our love for Him grows with each passing day and we honestly share with Him what we think and how we feel. Help us to do this same thing with one another. This will improve our relationship and prevent many divorces. Remind us to pray, praise and worship together.

Thought for the Day:
One way to create a mutually edifying relationship is to learn how to communicate your feelings and needs effectively.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Strength Which Never Fails

The Lord is our strength and protector; our heart truly trusts in him, because He is always available to assist us at the first sign of trouble. Our heart soars with delight, and we cannot help but to shower Him with our praise and thanksgiving. The Lord provides power for His people. He is our fortress and our salvation (Psalm 28:7-8).

Our soul is often exhausted with grief; yet in His love, the Lord fortifies us with His Holy Word (Psalm 119:28). He gives strength to the weary and amplifies the ability of the frail (Isaiah 40:29). He is our might and He fills our heart with songs. He provides our constant salvation (Psalm 118:14).

We will never fail in carrying out what God calls us to do, because He gives us His strength (Philippians 4:13; Ephesians 2:10). Though we are weak in our own human strength, we are strong in His anointing, power and might (Ephesians 6:10). His grace is always sufficient to perfect His power in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

We rise up on the wings of eagles and soar high above the aspects of this earth, which attempt to debilitate and discourage us. Even as young people, life exhausts us and we stumble and fall. However, if we hope in the Lord's provision, He renews our strength and we can accomplish all that He calls us to do without growing weary (Isaiah 40:29-31; Galatians 6:9).

Father God, You are gracious to us all day long. We desire nothing from this life except a closer walk with You. You give us renewed energy with each new dawn and You deliver us from everything that distresses us (Isaiah 33:2). In this cruel and wicked world, we pray that You will continue to strengthen us with the power of Your Spirit in our soul - our thoughts, feelings and choices - as well as in our Born Again spirit (Ephesians 3:16).

Thought for the Day:
The Lord gives us the ability to traverse the hard and treacherous places in life through His strength within us. - Habakkuk 3:19