Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For He Has Called You Out of Darkness

For He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.

My friend’s brother and his wife had two wonderful children when they were young. They decided to adopt a child from another country. This child had lived in poor conditions in an orphanage without much love and care. The child had issues, both physical and emotional. But she thrived under their care. Her life changed when she was adopted by this couple. They went on to adopt half a dozen more children from other countries. They are my age and I can’t imagine doing this. Our children are grown and raised. But they are caring for and literally redeeming the lives of these children who didn’t have much chance where they were. The couple has literally taken these children out of their dark situations and brought them into a life of carefree childhoods and joyous love.
God wants you to know that He has called you out of darkness. But more than that. He has an exchange system for you. He hasn’t brought you out of your darkness to live in your own light. Things aren’t just better for you – you now live in His Wonderful Light! You are chosen by Him. He came on the scene of your life and called you out. He said, “She is mine. He is mine.” He cares for you and He has literally redeemed your soul. He wants you to know that He would choose you again and again. 
God also wants you to know that because you are chosen and because you live in His light, you have purpose to fulfill. This purpose is beyond your raising, above your troubles, beyond your sins. God looks at your life and He sees the real you. You may still be looking at the old you, but you are not bound by your mistakes nor the mistakes of others. His purpose includes destroying the works of the evil one that were pronounced over you. He has given you a new heart to fulfill His purpose. He knows everything about your present situation and yet He can use it all for His glory as well as your good. He is such a generous and benevolent Father that He will recreate your life in redemptive glory so that you can move on from the betrayal, the bitterness, the humiliation and the pain. You are being remade, you are new! In Christ’s family you are being brought out of every single dark situation and are learning to walk in the light of His joyous love.
Oh beloved, it’s time to run to the Open Grave and see that the stone has been rolled away. You are free in the family of God to enjoy your life. You have divine blessings in place for you. Reach for them. You have a divine destiny to fulfill, go for it. You may feel tethered to your past, but God says it is gone. Let go of the turmoil and reach for His hand. Your life is not the same and you never have to return to the orphanage of your former life. You have a new name – you are a servant of the Most High God, you are a child of Faith, you are a living breathing picture of God’s grace, mercy and favor.
Walk in God’s Truth today and walk away from the lies. You are free, you have purpose and you have favor and blessings. Let God take you where you cannot go on your own and find in Him real peace and great joy as you live in the light of the Truth – God loves you and He’s for you and that’s all that matters as your adoption is secure forever by the Faithful God.
I Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[a] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Psalm 57:2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.
Galatians 2:20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Romans 8:15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pray Without Ceasing

Our vacation turned out to be sick leave. Our plans turned out to be the complete opposite of what we had intended. Instead of spending a few days sight-seeing, we spent a few days finding out more about the intensive care unit, brain surgery and prayer.  I have no regrets on the change of plans because I believe God already knew what was going to happen and He knew that faced with the choice of being at my brother’s bedside or being somewhere else, there was no choice to make. I love my brother.  
He stood at the crossroads of the Cross and surveyed the choice. He could have called 10,000 angels to His defense. He could have looked at you and I and said, not worth it. And yet, in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed so urgently and so deeply that drops of blood beaded on His forehead.  When faced with the choice of going to the Cross or being somewhere else, there was no choice for Him to make. He loved you and He loved me. He has no regrets. He prayed in the Garden and He continues to pray in heaven for us. He never quits interceding.  He loves us.
God wants you to know today that Easter is for you. It is the greatest story ever told and it was written with you in mind. He loves you. He loved you before the foundation of the world and He continues to love you. He surveyed the Cross, took the beating, faced the humiliation, stepped into hell and faced it all for you.  God wants you to know that He loves you. (period, end of sentence) Because of this Great Love, He will be with you to guide you, protect you, redeem you, restore you, bless you and remain faithful to you forever and ever.  Every single time you have called out to Him He has been right at your side. You might not always feel His presence, but you can count on it.  He knows the pain you have experienced at the hands of another. He knows the humiliation you’ve felt when decisions were made that had nothing to do with love. He knows the sorrow you experience as prayers seemed to go unanswered.
God also wants you to know that because Easter is a day of resurrection, you too will experience resurrection. When you are at the end of your life, the resurrection will be in heaven with the Lord. But even now, while things look bleak and the grave of your hopes and dreams is all you can see, resurrection is coming! God is going to work all things out for your good. He is reviving your calling even as you are reading this. He is renewing your hopes, restoring your dreams and rearranging your circumstances so that your life will be a blessing to all who know you. Now is the time to pray more, read His Word and walk in faith. Three days Christ was in the grave and yet there was much going on we could not see. You may feel that you’ve been in the grave of sorrow, humiliation, regret and uselessness. But much is going on behind the scenes of your life. Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep looking for the stone to roll away from the Grave.
Oh beloved, never quit praying. God loves you and He is for you. It makes no difference what others are doing or who has walked away. You are in His hands and His plans for you are as sure as Easter morning. Rejoice in His truth and linger in prayer for at just the right time God will show His plans to you and you will live in the light of His Word!
I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Romans 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Psalm 116:2 Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! NLT
John 11:20 Jesus said to her, “I AM the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.
Ephesians 1:11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan. NLT

Monday, April 14, 2014

Forget Not All His Benefits

I’m so glad that my brother has good benefits in his retirement. Without it he would be facing huge hospital and physician bills. Brain surgery is no cheap trick – it’s monumental. While he is still recovering and it may take some time to be totally back to normal, he doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s thankful that he is a state employment retiree. He won’t quickly forget the benefits afforded to him for the many years he worked in the system.
God wants you to know that life in Christ is a trip from living under the gun to living under His benefits. No worries about the hereafter with Christianity – for Christ Himself has made a way to have future access to heaven’s gates and eternal life there. Christ paid the way for all of us – all we have to do is put our trust in Him and live our lives for Him. 
But God also wants you to know that you have an entire portfolio of benefits as a child of God. For the rest of your life you have a Guardian who watches over you – body soul and spirit. You will never again be totally alone. You will never have to face things on your own – for you have an Eternal Advocate as well. When the enemy of your soul stands to accuse you, as he is the accuser of the brethren, you know that Christ Himself stands between you and him always. So many benefits are yours as well. You have secure guidance – you never have to try to figure out what to do – you just have to pray for wisdom and it will be yours. God Himself promises to guide you, lead you, watch over you and keep you safe. Who else can do that for you? Who else would? Need a friend? Christ is the friend who will stick closer than a brother. Need protection, forgiveness, release, rest, redemption? You have it. Need freedom – from anything? You have that. Freedom from anxiety, depression, fear, worry, addictions, and more… We’re talking real freedom – not fleshly strength you build for yourself – but Godly freedom – straight from the throne room of grace. There are so many benefits that it takes a Book of Benefits to list them all and it takes a lifetime to read up on them and appropriate them for yourself.
Oh beloved, forget not all His benefits! He saves your soul from the penalty of sin! No other benefit is so wonderful. But He is the Champion of your faith – He teaches you everything you need to know as you read the Word, take it in and live it out. Don’t scrimp on reading your Benefits, for they are God breathed and will enter your spirit through the Holy Spirit who has been sent to be with you on earth. You are blessed beyond measure with all God’s wonderful redeeming merciful blessings. Don’t worry about your circumstances, don’t live in your fears, don’t walk in unforgiveness, envy, ingratitude or dismay. Everything you need, beloved, for life and godliness is yours by virtue of Christ Alone who is your benefits giver. It doesn’t matter what people say, what the enemy says or what your flesh wants to believe – it is all yours. The cross is the pen that Christ signed the papers with – signed, sealed and delivered to you. 
Rejoice in God’s Wonderful Benefits! Don’t forget a single one. Acquaint yourself with them all for you need them to live a life of freedom, purpose and love. God loves you and He’s for you and that’s all that really matters as you live life in the shadow of the Cross in Spirit and truth.
Psalm 103:2 Praise the Lord O My soul and forget none of His benefits.
2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes and in Him Amen to the glory of God through us. 
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

You Are a Miracle

You Are A Miracle

Our family feels that my brother is a walking, talking miracle. The headache that brought him to the hospital was so severe that none of us are sure he could have called 911 if he had been home alone. Instead he was here visiting with his son, who drove him to the hospital.  He got into a room yesterday and we came home to give him time and space to visit with his other son and family who had traveled to see him.
Needing some groceries I went to the store when we got home. As I went into an aisle I visited with a couple we’ve known for many years. As we were talking another couple came into the aisle and I introduced both couples. As I shared my brother’s story, I talked about a couple of personal things that happened as a result of my brother being in the hospital that are nothing short of a miracle in themselves. The five of us standing in the aisle at the grocery store all talked about what we’d been through, since one of the ladies is a survivor of a dread disease and one of the men was recuperating from an illness no one thought he would recover from.
As I looked at one and then another, I said, “You’re a miracle and you are too”. And then it hit me. I said, “We are all miracles!” We agreed and hugged and went about our way.
God wants you to know this morning that you are a miracle. The circumstances you find yourself in are not your definition.  The heartache you feel, the desperation you are encountering, the worries you have are not your outlining life’s story.  Your life is such a beautiful story of God’s grace. Every situation of your life, from the time you were born to this very moment, is all part of a miraculous story. God Himself ordained your birth and has watched over you all your life. His plans for you are wondrous and miraculous all wrapped up in one. Now is not the time to quit believing God or to wonder if He cares. The enemy wants you to believe that whatever has happened or is happening to you at this point in time is all you can expect and all you will ever have. But God wants you to lean on Him, believe His Word and live in the light of His glory and grace. He wants you to know that His plans for you are always good and His love for you is always present. His Spirit is guiding you and directing you and you cannot possibly know all the miracles that have happened on your behalf that you can’t even see.
Oh beloved, life itself is a miracle. Don’t keep rehearsing the hard things, but rejoice in the Lord. Yes, you may have to go through the trying times or the hurtful situations, but you are not walking alone. God is with you, every single step of the way. He promises to get you through and wipe away all tears. Ask Him for help and He will surely give it to you. Ask Him for whatever you need and He will provide it. Talk to Him often for He is the Savior who is with you all the way.
God loves you and He’s for you. Rest in that promise. Remember you are a miracle. Go to His Word and believe what He says for He is faithful and will never leave you or forsake you, as you live loved and watched over by the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
Psalm 78:7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands.
Psalm 106:2 Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough?
Psalm 139:5 You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.
Psalm 23:6 Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Ephesians 3:17 Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

God is in the Intensive Care Business

Having spent the past few days in and around the ICU ward of a hospital, I can tell you more about the ins and outs of the ward nowImage that we’ve experienced it.  I can also tell you that folks who are patients in these wards are from all kinds of backgrounds and have varying problems. I can tell you that not one single person had plans to be a patient or a visitor there. And I can tell you that each person is loved by someone. Each person looks completely different and yet they hold these basics in common.
As we walked out of the ward last night, after visiting my brother, who is a patient there, I was ecstatic.  We have faced a dire situation requiring brain surgery and the outcome has been fantastic. After talking for several days about the sickness and knowing how we all felt so helpless and a bit fearful, we are now laughing and thanking God for His blessings of returned health.
While my brother is recovering and will move to a regular room sometime today, I am reminded that God is in the intensive care business.
God wants you to know that He is with you no matter where you are. You are never beyond His reach and never beneath His loving care. He is the Lord of the good times of robust health and He is the God of the hard time, when health is failing or sudden, unexpected times arise. He never leaves His position of Authority and Care. He’s never caught by surprise with the things that want to derail us.  He intensely watches over all of us as the Great Physician and the King of the Universe. When someone asks who my brother’s doctor is, I can tell them his name. But really my brother’s ultimate source of love and care is God Himself. The One who put the stars in orbit and the planets on their rotating cycle is the One who presided over the surgery suite as delicate brain surgery was performed. He is the Same God who oversees the healing of one and the home going of another.
Oh beloved, do you know about the intensive care you receive from the Lord? Do you know how much He loves you? He loves who you are right now. He never says “I love who you will be” or “I will love you when…” but He loves you exactly where you are.  He watches every step you make, and He knows everything that has happened to you. He was with you at birth, He is with you now and He will be with you forever. When you give your heart to Jesus, and allow Him to be the Lord of your life, the Intensive Care is out of this world. You have no guilt about your past, no cares about your present and no fear about your future. It is all in His Loving care and all presided over by His loving hands. No surgeon’s hand is so steady as our God’s hands in all situations of life. He wants you to know that while your situation caught you completely by surprise, He did not arrive on the scene breathless and unprepared. No, beloved, He is always present, all knowing, completely prepared and more than able.
You are in the hands of God and He is worthy to receive your trust. He loves you beyond your wildest imagination and He will always watch over you, guide you, protect you and keep you safe. And when your time on earth is done, He will be there to welcome you into His loving presence forever. Trust Him today, pray for all its worth and be thankful in all circumstances for He Alone is worthy. God loves you and He’s for you and that’s the most intensive care you will ever have all the days of your life.
Psalm 16:8-9  I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.  No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts His praises! My body rests in safety.
Psalm 121:1-2, 8 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. NAS
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Sovereign Lord Wants You to Remain Flexible

The Sovereign Lord Wants You to Remain Flexible

One day this week we had some unusual weather – sun, rain, thunder, winds. And all this within moments. The trees were creaking and the limbs were falling. When I got home I noticed that we had a “widow maker” in our yard. One of our trees is in pretty bad shape and a huge limb had falling, breaking up into smaller pieces as it hit the ground. The trees that are in good shape all made it fine without much more than a leaf or two of new growth flying away. But this old near dead tree didn’t fare so well.
God wants you to know that His desire for you is that you remain healthy and flexible. Your spiritual health is His greatest concern. He knows that as long as you can bend in the weather of life’s circumstances, which are constantly changing, you won’t break. Being flexible is important to Him too, because you can’t see the road ahead. He knows what’s around the next curve in life and He has prepared a way to make it. But if you break under the stress you’ll never get past the present hurts or disasters to see the better way. High winds of adversity, strong storms of trouble, the thundering load of sorrow were never meant to destroy you. The bending of your life is not meant to humiliate you, but humble responses to God’s Sovereignty are needed. Bending your knee to seek His face when things are going wrong will always result in new growth and greater strength.
Oh beloved, you’ve weathered quite a bit haven’t you? It’s tiring to keep up appearances and make sure all around you is neat and tidy. But you’re starting to wonder where God is and you want to just let it all go. Believing is easy when things are going well, but when those winds howl at your extremities and bit at your heart and mind it weakens the best resolve. Now is your time to bend – bend to the Truth of God’s Word. Bend to the Sovereignty of God, bend to the knowledge that God is still God and He has your best interest in mind. He will get you through, you can stay in one piece, you don’t have to lose ground or lose faith. Rejoice in His Truth, hide in His love and watch as you come through more understanding and knowledge of God after all.
God loves you and He’s for you. His desire is that nothing would break your spirit but that leaning and bending towards Him will always result in your good and His glory. Trust Him today, give Him your troubles, let Him shelter you, guide you, watch over you and protect you all the days of your life. When this storm passes, you will be able to share the Truth with another who will need to know just what you’ve learned about God and about the strength you can display as you set your heart toward God.
Psalm 27:7-8 Listen to my pleading, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard You say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
Psalm 59:17 O my Strength, to You I sing praises, for You, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.
Isaiah 50:5 The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me, and I have listened. I do not rebel or turn away.
Psalm 69:32 The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help live in joy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Plans May Change but God's Plans Remain

On Sunday as the sun came up the day was absolutely beautiful. Blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds hung in the sky and streaks of gold shined on the dewy grass. The flowers popped in the light and everything looked clean and beautiful. The plan was to be outside all day to enjoy God’s world. 
The only problem with that plan was that within the hour blue black clouds stepped forward out of the west and covered all the crispness. Gloom took over. Rain drops fell. It stayed cold and drippy all day. I never got to spend time outdoors. My plans changed.
We decided that it was a great day to go to church anyway. Then come home and eat a bite of lunch, watch an old movie on tv and have a nap. We had some little visitors and two of them took naps as well. It was that kind of day. I guess I could have griped and moaned and cursed the weather. I could have lamented that I wasn’t getting to do what I wanted to do. I could have ceased to enjoy the day entirely, but I chose to enjoy what there was, along with the change of plans.
The next day came a bigger challenge. A huge change in some plans we had been making for months. I didn’t handle it so well. I was fretting and fussing most of the day. I felt so unsettled. I knew we had a choice – we could either keep with our original plan or we could change our plans. My day didn’t go so well because I had forgotten to make friends with change. I had also forgotten that God’s plans remain no matter what my plans are. 
When I got home and talked with Danny we both agreed that God was up to something, even though it was very different from what we had planned. Then I remembered the Bible study we’re in and how we had studied just last week about discernment. So together we asked God for discernment about the decisions we had to make. Within 30 minutes complete peace came and the decision was made. I had fretted the entire day trying to make heads or tails of what was going on. I had been in a battle and didn’t even realize it. The battle was between my plans and God’s plans. Ultimately that’s where the battle lies. Sure God blesses us with friendships, fellowship, trips and plans. He doesn’t keep us from enjoying life. We just need, for our own sakes and for the sake of the Kingdom, to let God in on our plans so we can enjoy His best.
Oh beloved, God wants you to know that He has wonderful plans for your life! First and foremost His plan is for you to find restoration to the Kingdom of God through Christ. Then He wants you to include Him in every single day – in every single plan – ask Him about His desires and tell Him about yours. No greater fulfillment than to be right in the center of God’s will. Your plans may have gone awry but God loves you. Because He loves you, you can trust that His plans will not be thwarted by any man’s decisions. You are not the victim of circumstances and you don’t have to fret or worry or get frustrated about life’s changes. Today is your day to step up to the Light and feel the Son’s blessings as you walk in the light of God’s Word and His will. No mere vacation will suffice; no personal plans will be good enough. It’s ultimately God’s plans that will stand the test of time. Pray for discernment and He will give it to you. Apologize if you’ve fretted and caused someone else trouble. Rejoice that when it’s all said and done, doing things according to God’s plan is the best plan you’ll ever make.
God loves you and He’s for you. Now go out and have a wonderful day as you make plans and let Him plan your day for His kingdom and His glory as well as your good!
Proverbs 3:5-6 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Amplified)
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Psalm 37:23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives