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.

The Benefits of the Word of God – Part 5

The Word brings the purposes of God to pass (Isaiah 55:10-11). Don’t be afraid to use the Word and speak it out loud. God’s spoken Word is powerful – use it. When going through difficulties, claiming a promise or ministering to someone speak forth His Word. He promises it will not return to Him void or empty. It will accomplish His purpose. As rain watering seed sown in the ground, it may take a season to come to fruition but it will. When the Word is spoken it is released into the spiritual realm or into a persons life and continues working until it fulfills His plan and purpose.

The Word is a cleansing agent (Ephesians 5:25-27; John 15:3). The Word has a cleansing effect in our lives. Have you ever done something wrong? You confessed it as sin and knew God had forgiven you (1 John 1:9) but still felt guilty and dirty? It’s during those times we need to get into the Word and it will cleanse us. The Word is both a mirror showing us our sin (James 1:23-24) and a washing machine to cleanse us from impurities.

The Word gives comfort and hope (Romans 15:4; Hebrews 6:17-20). Many can testify to being down, discouraged and feeling hopeless, opening the Word or hearing a message and as a result being filled with hope, comfort and encouragement. During times of despair we usually don’t feel like reading the Word but this is exactly when we really need to. When you’re feeling down and hopeless get into the Word and let God minister hope and encouragement to you.

The Word gives guidance and direction to life (Psalms 119:105). The Psalmist said, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). It gives direction and guidance to our lives.

The Word shines light on our path so we will know the direction we need to go. It doesn’t necessarily show us where to go and what to do way out into the future. Notice it says His Word shines light on our path. Light shines on our path only so far out in front of us. As we continue walking forward it continues to shine out in front of us as we walk ahead. We must continue to walk in the light we have before receiving any additional light (Matthew 25:29).

The Word of God brings joy (Jeremiah 15:16). Jeremiah says God’s Word was the joy and rejoicing of his heart. Why? Because he is called by His name. I wonder about those who claim to be called by His name and yet have no desire for His Word.

God’s Word should be the joy and rejoicing of our heart. Jeremiah apparently did more than a casual reading of the Word in that he said he “ate it.” In other words, he devoured it. Let’s devour the Word of God — absorb it into our very being. When we do, we will find it fills us with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

The Benefits of the Word of God – Part 4

The Word defeats the powers of darkness (Matthew 4:3-11; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The Word of God is the main offensive weapon for believers. If we want to have victory over the enemy we will do so through the Word. Make no mistake about it, we are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus said that Satan desired to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). His desire is nothing less toward us. Jesus used the Word to defeat Satan and so must we. The Word equips us and makes us strong for the battle (1 John 2:14). We must use the Word if we are to have victory over the enemy. Knowing it isn’t enough. A sword must be drawn and used or it benefits us nothing.

The Word brings success in life (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:2-3; James 1:25). God told Joshua the Word was not to depart from his mouth and he was to observe to do according to all that is written therein (Joshua 1:8). The principles in the Word works. God promises that if we will continue in the Word and put it into practice we will be blessed in all that we do (James 1:25). Lets make the Word of God our meditation day and night (Psalms 1:2-3).

The Word equips us to be competent counselors (Romans 15:14; 2 Timothy 3:16). True biblical counseling is listening to a persons problems or struggles and applying God’s Word to them. Moses said concerning the children of Israel, “when they have a dispute; I judge between a man and his neighbour and make known the statutes of God and His laws” (Exodus 18:16). This is exactly how we are to counsel.

When I got saved I started studying and memorizing the Word. I won several bible quiz and competition because I spent time studying the word. What I think does a person little good but what God says is of infinite value. It’s the Word that has the power to change lives.

The Benefits of the Word of God – Part 3

The Word brings purpose to life (John 17:17-18). Jesus prayed, in His high priestly prayer, that God would sanctify us through His Word. He went on to say, “As you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:17-18). Jesus came into the world with purpose. Even so, as we get into His Word we will begin to find purpose in Him.

Sanctification is not only setting us apart from sin but it is also setting us apart unto His divine purpose. If you want to know His purpose for your life, get into the Word of God until He reveals it to you. It may not come all at once but one step at a time. In this way, we are able to show ourselves faithful and we are not overwhelmed by the revelation of His will (Purpose) all at once.

The Word brings spiritual growth (Romans 10:17 and 1 Peter 2:2). We simply cannot grow spiritually apart from the Word. If we do not eat we not only do not grow but we’ll eventually die. We grow from the Word in two ways:

Spiritual maturity. Peter said that we must desire the milk of the Word in order to grow in respect to our salvation but we can’t stop with milk. We only grow so far on milk. We must begin to eat solid food as well if we are to grow unto maturity (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 and Hebrews 5:12-14).

The Word increases faith. Most people would love to have more faith. Even the disciples desired this (Luke 17:5). One of the major ways for us to grow our faith is through time in the Word or time with the Word in us. Paul said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word” (Romans 10:17). It is interesting that it says hearing. Our faith will never grow sufficiently through personal study alone. The context refers to the proclaimed Word (Romans 10:13-17). If we are to grow our faith we must spend adequate time in the Word personally and hearing it proclaimed –at church!

The Word increases fruitfulness (Psalms 1:2-3). How many of us desire to be spiritually fruitful? The Psalmist gives us a picture of a tree planted near a river with its roots going deep into the ground and drinking of it’s water. The result was fruitfulness. As we immerse ourselves in the Word and are filled with His Spirit fruitfulness is the natural result. This is the purpose for which Jesus chose us for Himself (John 15:16).