Monthly Archives: September 2014

Holy Living

Romans 12:1
“Therefore, I urge {beg, implore, exhort}you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship.”

We have been set free and made new! We are a new creation and CANNOT continue to walk with one foot on God’s path and the other being allowed to tiptoe along worldly desires. These simply have no place in the life of a worshipper of the One True God!

Today, we are being urged (challenged) to trust God more; to talk with Him more and seek His presence more diligently; to not get pulled away by the lies of the world! We are being challenged to love Him with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). As we face this day with its multitude of struggles, let’s live a life worthy of the calling we have received and forevermore answer the challenge!

Dying To Self

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin …” Romans 6:6 (NIV)

Sometimes the young girl we once were, the one who wanted to be noticed, the one who sought after a boy’s attention or longed for her parents’ approval, is not completely gone.

Maybe there’s a side of me still wanting acceptance and attention. This possibility makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to be an insecure woman.

I want to be a woman who reflects love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I want to have selfless attributes of a heart that reflects Christ in me, the fruit of His Spirit on display. A lasting grace that isn’t about getting attention, but about serving and loving others more than I love myself.

I want that kind of beauty for me, and for all my friends.

But to gain it, I have to give something up. I’m going to have to die first.

Die to the me who is all about me.

Die to self.

Because, when I die to me, another woman can emerge. A woman whose character is found in the love she gives, the joy she lives and the peace when she forgives.

A woman who doesn’t make her life about gaining attention, but giving it.

Today’s key verse reminds me that Jesus’ work on the cross makes it possible for me to become this kind of woman: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).

Christ died so I don’t have to struggle with the sin of self-centeredness, the pull to make life about me. Christ’s new life in me means I no longer have to be a slave to needing attention. I can confidently put the spotlight on Him and others.

And here is the intriguing twist: A woman who possesses this type of beauty, who chooses others above herself is hard to find, yet she is easy to spot.

Jesus, I want to be beautiful the way You define beautiful. A woman whose life reflects Your life inside of me. Help me to die to myself so that You might daily live strong in me.

The Fourth Man in the Flames

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”Daniel 3:24–25

Not many of us, perhaps, will face tests as great as Shadrach, Meshach, or Abed-Nego faced on the day when the king threw them into a fiery furnace. Even so, tests will come. Temptations will come. And many of those moments of great testing will come when you are alone, with no one looking.

We’re foolish if we think we can stand up to temptation—the lure of the world, our own flesh, and the Devil—in our own strength and wisdom. We need help from on high.

The key to the courage and serenity of these three teenagers in the midst of those flames was their Companion! Nebuchadnezzar said it best: “The form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

I don’t know that Nebuchadnezzar necessarily realized that this fourth person in the flames was Jesus Christ. I don’t know what he thought. All he knew was that he tossed three men in a blazing furnace, and they were walking around in the fire like it was a Sunday stroll in the park. And Someone else was walking with them.

Just that quickly, the king didn’t want to mess with these guys anymore. He had great respect (not necessarily belief at that point, yet respect) for the God they represented.

Are you in a fiery trial right now? Are you in the hot waters of temptation? Know this: You aren’t alone in life. Jesus is there with you each step of the way. Jesus said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV). And again, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Take your stand for the Lord in things great and small, and even though you may feel the heat, your Companion will never leave your side.

The Plan Came First

Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV).

Beginnings are very important. In fact, the place of origin has much to do with the quality of the journey as well as the final destination. My journey – like yours – began in the heart and mind of God.

Before I took even one breath, God wanted, loved and planned me. That same truth applies to you, friend. You are no accident! You and I were created in response to the love of God and according to His plans. God did not “accidentally” create us and then step back in alarm and say, “Oops! I created her. Now what am I going to do with her?” The plan came first.

There have been many times in my life when I doubted my worth and value. I filled every waking moment with activity – good things – thinking that if I did enough good things, I would be good enough. It didn’t work.

I can never be good enough to earn the love and favor of God. The good news is that I don’t have to be! My worth and value rest in the fact that I am chosen by God to be His very own child. I am loved, wanted, and planned by God Himself. Wow! God Himself supervised our formation. We were created – not to be a puppet – but for an intimate relationship with God.

I praise You because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old” (Psalm 139:14-16, NCV).

When you begin to understand and live out the eternal truth that you are loved, planned, wanted, and chosen by God, His perfect plan and highest purpose will naturally unfold before you. Don’t settle for anything less!

Father, I want to know You and find Your plan for my life. I choose to see myself through Your eyes of love, forgiveness and grace. I want to be the woman You created me to be. Thank You for loving me. Help me walk each day in the knowledge that I am Your chosen child.

Turning Tests into Testimonies

“It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” (Luke 21:13)

The process of dealing with unmerited suffering: don’t spend too much time trying to understand the reason for suffering – focus rather on how you can deal with it. Notice, Jesus spent very little time trying to explain human suffering, much less explain it away. Had He undertaken to explain it, then His gospel would have become a philosophy – in which case it would not have been a gospel. A philosophy undertakes to explain everything, and then leaves everything as it was. Jesus undertook to explain little, but He changed everything He touched. He did not come to bring a philosophy, but a fact.

What was that fact? The fact was His own method of meeting suffering and transforming it into something higher. Out of this fact, we put together our philosophy – a system of principles and procedures by which we live out our life in this world. Notice that fact comes first, and then the philosophy about the fact. The good news is not merely “good news”; it is the fact of sin and suffering being met and overcome, and a way of life blazed out through them.

The other step is this: remind yourself that in God’s universe, He allows only what He can use. In the passage before us today, Jesus gives the nine sources from which suffering comes upon us: false Christs, wars and conflicts in society, calamities in nature, and so on. Then He says this: “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” In other words, you are not to escape trouble, nor merely bear it as the will of God – you are to use it.

Blessed Lord Jesus, You who used Your suffering to beautify everything You did, teach me the art of turning every test into a testimony and every tragedy into a triumph. For Your own dear Name’s sake. Amen

Be on the Alert

Ref. Text – 1 Peter 5:8-9

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

The Lord wants you to be alert — to recognize that you have a spiritual enemy who would love to weaken your faith and destroy your spiritual vitality. He may do it through attracting you with worldly things, or distracting you with hobbies or activities, or shaming you with ridicule, or any other of his tactics.

Don’t let your spiritual guard down. If things are going well, then deepen your relationship with God, look for ways to speak about Him to people around you, make your life count. If things are going badly, your enemy will be trying to take advantage of that and make you discontent or resentful toward God. “Resist him”, and keep trusting God. Praise God’s goodness in the middle of your battle. You will come through that experience a seasoned spiritual soldier with a much more mature faith.

Time to Do a Little Faith Stretching

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

There are countless stories in the Bible of God calling people out of their comfort zones. And with each one, the stretching brought blessings they’d never imagined.

Abraham trusted God for the child he was promised, despite his and his wife’s advanced age. His faith-stretching ended with a little baby in his arms named Isaac.

Jesus’ disciples feared for their lives when a violent storm threatened to sink their boat. But Peter’s faith to step out of the boat at Jesus’ invitation resulted in Peter’s human feet miraculously walking on water.

Jesus told a crippled man, with muscles weak, to get up and walk. The man stretched his faith as he stretched out his legs and walked for the very first time.

And on it goes. A blind man who had faith to believe Jesus could heal, saw Jesus’ face with those very eyes. Joshua might have felt ridiculous circling the walls of Jericho seven times, but eventually the walls came crumbling down. Joseph spent more than 10 years in a dark dungeon, but it was his unwavering faith which eventually landed him on the throne.

God calls us all to do some faith stretching now and then. Whether we are called to leave our comfort zones to obey and act, or to rest and trust God during a difficult season of life, He always rewards great faith with wonderful blessings, just as today’s key verse promises.

Maybe stepping outside of your comfort zone to obey God seems like too much of a stretch right now. Keep in mind that although it may seem impossible, God will never stretch us beyond what we are capable of in His strength — not ours. And when we are willing to be stretched, blessings begin to flow.

Lord, help me fully trust You with my life and develop a faith that is willing to stretch for Your sake, and mine. Show me how You can use my life for Your good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.