Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wishing or Walking?

I saw two of the largest loads of hay I’ve ever seen while driving to work. Two semis full of huge round bales.

Reminds me of the old wives’ tale my mother used to subscribe to: “Make a wish on a load of hay.” The rule was to make a wish as you passed a load, but if you look back it wouldn’t come true.  If I still believed in that tale I would have been making some HUGE wishes when I saw those two loads of hay. I’d also be full of worry that I might catch a glimpse in the rear view mirror or be tempted to turn around and look back. Then all the wishes would be lost. Great opportunity turned to disaster all because of what I might or might not do.

God is not a load of hay! There’s no wishing and desperation involved with talking to God and letting Him respond to us.   He doesn’t give us one shot at Him to hurry and shoot out a quick request. He is God, the Only True God. He’s not an icon we bow to, an image we polish or a wish we hope for.

Wishing and luck may be fun to think about, but neither of them matter when it comes to a life of faith.  Luck has absolutely nothing to do with it and aren’t you glad? If life in Christ were simply a matter of luck then some would have good luck and others would have bad luck. If wishing were the only way to have blessings then which wishes are best? A penny in the well? Salt behind the back? Loads of hay?

We are not like that! For the one who has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior we are walking in the divine favor of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! We have been born into blessings as a child of God.  We have the knowledge of the Lord and can increase in that knowledge all the days of our lives. We can live in the light of His Word so that we know how to live, how to be blessed and how to share that life others.

You may be living under a cloud of regret, remorse or misfortune. You may think you are unloved, uncared for, unappreciated and unlucky. The circumstances you’ve dealt with have been hard. God knows the entire situation from the beginning of your life to the present time right now.  His Spirit says to quit living under the cloud and begin to live in praise of the One Who has bought you, redeemed you, lifted you out of the miry clay and set your feet on the Rock! Instead of wishing, look to the Lord – for His Word is full of His promises along with the way to walk in those promises. Stop looking for loads of hay or lucky pennies and run to the Word of God and read – every Word is given, God breathed, into your life and the life of every believer for their good and God’s glory.

Oh beloved, you are not lucky you are blessed! You are not living under a cloud but in the light of the Lord’s presence. Run to His Word and let your heart be strengthened for faith so that whether the sun is shining or things look bad you can know that God loves you and He’s for you and that’s all that really matters.

John 4:24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

Ephesians 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (NAS)

I John 5:3-5 For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous). For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith.  Who is it that is victorious over [that conquers] the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on that fact]? (Amplified)

Friday, August 30, 2013

God Will Mend it and Give You a Ministry for Him

She called our office looking for help. The garbage men had delivered her monthly supply of  trash bags, which are in a large roll.  The only problem was that they threw it into her yard and broke off a shrub at its base! Would it grow again? Was it ruined? What would happen? Should she pull it up and discard it? Replace it?

I forwarded her call to one of our agents. With knowledge of horticulture she was able to answer the woman’s questions and give her hope.  If we had no agents with knowledge none of us would be able to help.  I could have forwarded her call to the agent who knows about cooking and canning, but that would not have helped.

Unless there is knowledge to impart, there’s no need to speak with someone else. If we only speak with folks who know nothing more than we do, we’ll all be in the same boat. If we think we know so much that we don’t need to ask anyone else, we’ll be up a creek without a paddle. 

The agent in my office could have said no to the call. “Tell her I’m busy trying to learn more, read more, seek more. I don’t have time to help.” 

But taking the chance and answering the call not only helps the caller, it helps the receiver of the call. If we take the chance and let God use us to impart knowledge we will also learn in the process. We will grow in faith, fellowship and love.

People have lots of issues. Some of them are far more serious than a broken branch on a small shrub. But they’re looking for answers.  They need help. They need relief. They want to be able to look beyond their brokenness.  They want to recover and thrive again. They want to produce new fruit, flower in faith and shine the glory of their Maker.

For every believer, we are gifted with a spiritual education to receive. This education goes on throughout our lives. We don’t get our “diploma” until we arrive in heaven, but we should be learning truth to live out in our own lives. And as we learn we should be asking God to use us to impart His Truth into the lives of others. We’re not learning for ourselves – that would be self-centered. Rather we are learning to share – and that’s God-centered.

Oh beloved, God knows the brokenness you’ve experienced. He knows the things that have been thrown at you.  They may have been intentional or unintentional but they hurt all the same. Whether from a stranger or a loved one, the pain is agonizing. There is no hope for recovery, redemption or regeneration on your own. Until you stretch out your life to the One Who has Rivers of living water.  If you will let God heal your hurts and grow you in your faith He will then use you to help others.  God will indeed use your former brokenness to impart to others His redemption, His reparation, His restoration.

Run to the Lord this morning and give Him your brokenness – everything – your hurts, your disappointments, your fears, your anger, your unforgiveness, your discouragement…And watch as He not only repairs your life, He will make it all new! Why would He do this? Because He loves you and He’s for you and that’s all that really matters.

Revelation 21:5 And He Who is seated on the throne said, See! I make all things new. Also He said, Record this, for these sayings are faithful (accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy) and true (genuine). AMP

Psalm 103:1-2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.

Psalm 23:3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. AMP

Psalm 96:2 Sing to the Lord; praise His name. Each day proclaim the good news that He saves.

1 Corinthians 9:23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

You CAN Walk in FREEDOM!

We watched a rerun of King Kong the other day. The newest version really shows the gorilla as a fierce creature much more realistic than the 1930’s version. His fierceness was overshadowed only by his strength.  Yet for all his strength, he was finally subdued by his enemies. The captors penned him down with enough ropes and strong medicine to knock him out. Their elaborate plan to capture him finally worked, even though he fought them, even though he was stronger, fiercer and bigger.

The word says that the believer is strong and invincible in the face of trials and troubles. We are referred to as more than conquerors and overcomers by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies. We are instructed to walk in freedom and be valiant warriors for God.     

Yet the enemy of our soul has an elaborate plan to capture us. Regardless of the promise of spiritual strength to overcome we will fall if we’re not careful. The enemy, our would-be captor, has a cunningly devised plan.  This plan is clever, artful, and ingenious and he has worked hard inventing, developing and formulating the plan.   

Unlike King Kong, who was finally captured, we do not have to succumb to the tactics of the enemy. He’s crafty but we have the Holy Spirit residing in us. This gives us great advantage in the fights of our lives, our hearts, our minds.  As we daily surrender ourselves to God, and declare our dependence on Him alone, we are able to overcome whatever is thrown at us.

While the enemy doesn’t cause every problem in our lives, he certainly wants to take credit for it and use it to his advantage.  If we are angry and we let that anger rule our lives we are submitting to a rope across our back. If we are discouraged and we don’t allow God to replace it with His courage we’ll find another rope has been slung across us.  I would dare say that fear is probably three ropes – fear will tie you down all by itself. Fear of man, fear of failure, fear of the future – none of these are meant to live in our minds, yet without God’s touch we all have fear. The list of ropes goes on and on: disappointment, tragedy, trials, turmoil, sorrow, unbelief…

Thanks be to God the lover of our soul has a plan as well! His plan includes praise, worship and freedom. His plan keeps us safe, keeps us free of terrors and lets us live without concern of the enemy. We don’t have to be taken captive as we learn to apply God’s Word to every situation that comes our way. Ropes are designed to capture us, but we can use them as walkways to greater living.    God’s plan of living even includes rescue when we’ve let ourselves be captured!  He will not allow us to remain captive unless we choose to. He is our Redeemer, Savior and Friend and His Spirit is strong on our behalf to break every chain and loose every bondage we’ve ever had. Brute force, natural strength won’t relieve you, redeem you or set you free. But God’s power is the overcoming victory for every believer.

Oh beloved, God has a wonderful plan for your life! That plan includes walking in freedom no matter what road you are on. It includes walking in strength and power of the Holy Spirit even in the jungles of life.  God is wooing you with His Word this morning to listen and live free. He will lovingly untie every fetter that seeks to control you and keep you down as you give each one to Him.  He’ll even take away the fear of the only natural enemy you have – satan – and replace it with His assurance. You never have to walk in dread of capture as long as you walk in the light of His Word.

God loves you and He’s for you and He provided your ultimate freedom on the Cross so that you can live free and in the power of His might all the days of your life!

Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.   When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Psalm 119:45 I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

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.

Psalm 18:1 I love You, Lord; You are my strength.

Psalm 18:39 You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued my enemies under my feet.

Psalm 89:15 Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of Your presence, Lord.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Feeling Like a Chipped Teacup? There's Hope! Psalm 103:4

My parents were coffee drinkers extraordinaire. The pot was on before 5 am every morning and didn’t get turned off until late in the evening, sometimes midnight. My dad kept his mug, a thick cafĂ© style white one, on the pilot light of the gas stove-top to keep it warm. He hated putting steaming hot coffee in a cold mug.

I still have most of their coffee mugs. Some are from special restaurants, others from Mother’s Days gone by. Some have funny sayings. As I look into the cabinet I have memories that pour out of them. Good memories. From the “coffee” I drank as a little girl, mostly cream and sugar, but warm and light brown, to the “don’t you dare wash my cup” from my daddy, well into his 80’s. Life revolved around the coffee pot.

People would come and visit and drink from the pot. I never remember my parents discussing running out of coffee. I think it was a given that come what may, coffee would be there. Some of the cups were cheap discount store buys but they hold such precious memories that their value is great to me.

Some folks like fine china cups. They’re beautiful but oh so delicate. One wrong tip on the kitchen sink and it’s chipped. Careful in the dishwasher, all the beauty can come off in the heat of the interior washing. I prefer a sturdy mug - strong, holding the heat, warming your hands in the winter without burning them.

Life is a lot like a china cup. It looks so beautiful starting out. Life is good. Beginning of life. Beginning of marriage. First babies. So delicate, so pristine, so good to look at. But things get chipped. The hot water of life’s troubles washes away at the delicate beauty of first love, first life and first family. Pretty soon we lose a handle on things and if we’re not careful the first loves will be discarded like just some trash. After all it’s no good if there’s no handle, if it’s chipped or if it won’t hold the concoction it was meant for.

Oh beloved, God wants you to know this morning that your life may feel like a chipped teacup, but He is the Restorer. Life may have run hot and cold for you, but He will always carry you in the warmth of His love. Always. Broken lives, broken hearts, broken dreams all seem to be just so much trash in the basket of life, but God is the glue that will put it all back together and hold you together no matter what happens in the coldness or harshness of your days.

Why don’t you get out your favorite cup and have a fellowship with Jesus. He wants to sit with you and express His love and care in ways you can only imagine. People come and people go, problems rise and fall like the sunrise and sunset, but the Lord Himself will sit with you, guide you, express His love to you and care for you the rest of your days. And that’s worth sitting at His feet any and every day.

Psalm 39:4 Lord, make me to know my end and [to appreciate] the measure of my days—what it is; let me know and realize how frail I am [how transient is my stay here]. AMP

Psalm 34:22 But the LORD will redeem those who serve Him. No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

Psalm 103:4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.

Revelation 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 

Psalm 63:8 I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Is that Your Father Calling You?

Observing three small grandchildren across the street I see that they often have a hearing problem. They don’t hear their mother when she calls them to supper, calls them to come in or calls them to get back in their own yard. It seems that the ability to hear is closely tied to the enjoyment they are having at the time they are called.  Playing in the creek or over at the neighbor’s house finds them totally deaf!

Then there’s the bone structure problems they have. No kidding! Call them home and they go limp and can barely walk. Tell them they can’t have ice cream till after supper and they almost crawl away from the refrigerator, arms hanging limply in front of them and their heads bent nearly to their chests.

Of course as people grow up they begin to respond much quicker to instruction and don’t display the skeletal problems children so often do.  I mean we’re grownups, so we are quick to obey and walk away from things without giving it a second thought. Right?

God speaks to my heart. It’s pretty easy to ignore God’s voice. We find ourselves in complete abandon to something we enjoy and He speaks softly into our hearts, “Come back to Me”, we flick a hand at our ear and go right back to our fun.  We lose our temper and stay mad and we hear “something” like “really is that the way you should behave?” and we want the anger more than the obedience.  We may feel our hearts being tugged to missionary work, changing jobs, checking on a neighbor, giving an extra dollar. The list goes on. We weigh the situation and often find that we’d just rather not listen to the still small voice trying to woo us to obedience.

We forget that obedience garners reward. Oh not always immediately, but reward does come for those who obey God’s still small voice. There’s punishment for the disobedient as well. Now children usually get grounded or get a spanking for their disobedience. But we believers are punished much worse I do believe. Because eventually we’re going to feel the Holy Spirit’s sting of conviction. We’re going to come to ourselves and realize we’ve messed up. And then we run home to the Father asking His forgiveness and praying that we haven’t lost complete touch with Him.

Just like a child must be trained to walk in obedience to their parents, we believers must train ourselves to walk in obedience to our Heavenly Father. We’re born again, we belong to the Family of God, but we have to learn to “act like it”. We have to train ourselves to listen for God’s voice and quickly follow, quickly answer, quickly respond.  I am still learning to hear Him, how about you?

Oh beloved, what a blessed child of God you are! Not only were you placed into an earthly family, with teaching, learning and growing, you were placed in God’s family! You have a Father who loves you unconditionally, the Son who obeyed all the way to the Cross for your disobedience and the Holy Spirit who keeps you able to listen to God the rest of your lives!  God knows the problems you encounter every day. There are so many things that would steal your joy, steal your heart and cause you to go deaf! But if you will trust the Lord and train yourself to listen to Him, you will find increased strength, increased stamina and multiplied joy and blessings! If you’ve found yourself in the wilderness of disobedience and you’ve quit hearing anything, today is your day to return Home to the Father! He is waiting outside your heart’s door to take you in immediately! He’s been searching for you as though you were a lost child out of earshot. He’s been calling you to repentance, which simply put is turning from your own desires to return to His fellowship!

Oh beloved, run to His Word this morning and hear Him speak: “I love you and I AM for you and that’s what you always need to remember to love Me, obey Me and live for Me alone”.

1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

Isaiah 30:21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Change Your Focus and Start Looking Up

Several months ago our oldest daughter told me that I needed to look at the clouds with my binoculars. She said that looking at them was like looking at a 3D photo. She said it was almost a spiritual experience for her.

I have tried to remember to try it, but I stay so busy that I remember the idea when I’m in the bed or in the car and couldn’t act on it. Finally yesterday morning I got outside with my binoculars to try it. The only problem was that the sky was a clear blue, not a cloud in sight. So I began to look around. I focused on tree trunks and fallen limbs. I looked and saw what I thought was a small fawn but when I focused better it was simply a clump of dead leaves. I saw a spot on the siding of our house that needs repair. I saw a broken brick in the yard. Everywhere I focused on the things around me I saw something wrong. I decided to go inside and try again later. Too many things around me looked decayed, dilapidated and disheartening.

I hear God speaking to my heart, through the binoculars and through the words of a dear, dear friend, who had texted me earlier that morning, “Quit looking at the things around you. Start looking up.”

You see beloved when we walk with God we have a beautiful world to look at. But sometimes that world gets distorted. Others disappoint us, fail us, dismiss us. We too get our focus on the wrong thing. We want accolades, God gives opportunities. We want commendation, God allows humiliation. We keep looking at the things going on around us and at the people around us and we get upset. We get to thinking about our present suffering. We’re hurting and we don’t like it. Others are uplifted and we are pushed down. We get frantic and will continue to spiral into more and more agony as long as we focus on the things around us.

We pray and we ask God to change things. Then He speaks and He says change your focus. Quit looking around and start looking up.

Oh beloved, God is speaking to your heart. When you look up into My Eyes you will focus on Me. When you are focused on Me you will walk in security and faith like you’ve never known. The Look Up is magnificent even when the look around is discouraging. The look into My eyes reveals My heart about you. The look around is confusing. You may see how others feel about you and mistake that for My feelings. You may see problems like finances, health and heartache when you look around and mistake those circumstances for my condemnation of you. But when you look at Me you will see that even when you are going through “things” I AM in the process of making all things work together for your good.

I am praying that I will focus only on the Lord. Won’t you look to Him as well? His promises for me and for you are that He loves us and He’s for us and that’s all we’ll ever need to focus on between now and heaven to find our peace, our joy and our calling.

Psalm 145:15 The eyes of all wait for You [looking, watching, and expecting] and You give them their food in due season. AMP

Isaiah 17:7 Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.

Micah 7:7 As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.

Hebrews 11:27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the One who is invisible.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! NAS

Saturday, August 24, 2013

God Wants Your Heart First

Marriage can be a wonderful picture of our relationship with Christ. If the marriage, the courtship, the relationship is full of the gifts of the Spirit, it’s easy to return that love.

When Danny asked me out he didn’t call me up and put demands on me. He didn’t order me out with him. He asked and I might say he asked very nicely. Danny’s kindness was a huge draw. He always treated me with tenderness from the beginning.  He was a hunter, a fisherman, a biker and all man. But because he knew how to be nice to me I liked him all the more.

If he’d been harsh or indifferent or demanding I would not have responded so well to him. I don’t like harsh, indifferent and demanding one bit. None of those “virtues” ever makes a person want to obey, toe the mark or submit. None of those qualities draws people, encourages folks or increases trust and fellowship. Rather they cause avoidance.

God is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. He is to be worshiped and revered. He calls us to repentance as we give our lives and hearts to Him. But He does not beat us over the head. He does not tell us we’re useless, worthless or unredeemable. We are all that without Him, but He does not bring up our worthlessness and push us to obey with an iron fist.

Instead His love woos us to complete surrender. The sweetest devotion is between two who love one another without reservation.  God loves us without reservation. And He wants us to love Him the same. When the Lord and a sinner like you and me meet with the grace and faith of the Cross we are overcome.  We are undone.  We realize our own state of affairs and we cry out to Him. And greater than the greatest earthly husband, He sweeps down to our level and scoops us into His arms, the very ones that were spread on the Cross to show His love for us.

Maybe you’ve been rebuffed by someone who should have been kind to you. You may have been in a relationship where there is no freedom to fail or to shine. You may have heard that God is watching you and will get you if you don’t straighten up and fly right. You could be afraid to truly come near to God for you have been afraid He will know the real you and discard you, disown you or worse. Maybe the enemy of your soul has called you out, beat you up and left you without hope. But he is a liar and the father of all lies.

Oh beloved, God does indeed have a plan and He does want your obedience, for His Word says to obey is better than sacrifice. But first He wants your heart. He is wooing you this very moment, speaking His love Words into your heart. His voice is gentle and calm and beckoning. He says to you this morning, I AM your greatest love. I AM your staunchest ally. I AM everything you are not and yet I AM willing to share all of my nature with you. Everything I do I AM doing for love.  When I speak your name into your heart you will never have to fear for I AM always calling you in love.

Won’t you trust Him today? Won’t you give Him your heart and mind? Won’t you stop a moment and quit running from the very One Who loves you beyond all belief? Let Him show you through His Word that He loves you and He’s for you and that beloved is why you can follow Him, obey Him as you live in the light of His Word.

Psalm 89:15 Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.

Psalm 44:3 They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was Your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from Your face that helped them, for You loved them.

Psalm 80:3 Turn us again to Yourself, O God. Make Your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.

Isaiah 43:1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.

Psalm 139:1-6 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rest in God's Covenant Arms

There’s an old book in my hall closet from the 50’s. Inside the pages have been glued old cartoons, old photos and old sayings. My mother and I worked on “making” a book of things I loved when I was a very little girl.  I had forgotten all about it.  We went through magazines together along with the Sears catalog (remember that?) and glued those cut outs on each page. Because of the wonderful white glue of childhood they have remained totally stuck to those pages. It’s a wonderful reminder of my mother’s love in taking time to do this craft with me. I probably wasn’t very still and was easily distracted and did a lot of giggling, but the project went on for more than a day. In fact it was daily for months.

I always loved using scissors and making cutouts. From paper dolls to favorite toys in the catalog I was always cutting things out. I remember pasting some things to furniture which didn’t seem to my mother to be too “artistic” but I rarely heard a harsh voice from her. Generally she just helped clean up my messes and mistakes and concentrated on the pasting book.  We referred back to that book often through the years.

Sometimes you have to cut things out in order to put something in its place. Sometimes we need help cleaning up the messes and mistakes. Sometimes we have to cut reminders out of our memories, our life, our Bibles to remind us where we have been and where we are going.

I find I still like to cut things out, but now I use the computer and print out quotes and Scriptures, especially when I’m dealing with something – just to remind me of who I am, whose I am and where I am.

You may have felt you were cut out of the good life.  You may have been cut down by those you trusted and admired. You might have gotten cut off in mid-stream while trying to express yourself.  People can be self-centered and careless with their words and actions. You once felt real fellowship but now you feel left alone, uncared for and dismissed.

God understands that you aren’t certain where you fit in. He understands your desire to be appreciated and admired. He promises you in His Word that you will never be cut out, cut down or cut off by Him. You are more than a paper doll and He is the One who created you and clothed you with dignity and love. Your picture is always before Him and your heart is always held securely by His all reaching hand. Even if you mess up, make mistakes, feel unworthy He is keeping you securely pasted to Himself.

Oh beloved, run to the Lord this morning and rest in His covenant arms. He is your Redeemer and when you gave your heart to Him He placed your name engraved in His hand and no man can erase it. You are loved forever and cared for eternally and that’s all that really matters.

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be His own people.

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Isaiah 51:11 So the ransomed of the Lord will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

God's Care Plan for you is Out of This World

We’ve had our car serviced a couple of times already. With our 10,000 mile service we got our tires rotated and the oil changed as well as the usual maintenance checkup. Danny discovered when he returned home that the technician had failed to secure the skid plate beneath the car, so it scraped the 70 miles home on the interstate. When he began looking he also discovered that black soot from the dangling part was all over the wheels and the sides of the car. Looking to make sure they had really changed the oil he found oily black fingerprints all over the hood and the door handle.

The shoddy workmanship made for a lack of trust. If they didn’t do that right, what else did they fail to do well? Upon calling them Danny was told that it was an “accident”.  I was reminded of my dad’s words, “accidents don’t just happen, they are created”. We’ve talked with the dealership several times and they will make things right for us. They have promised to.

We were treated very well when we made our purchase. Wined and dined so to speak. It was nice to be treated with respect and dignity. It was nice to have them go the extra mile on our behalf.

But here we are in the maintenance end and find that we’re not so appreciated. It’s quite disappointing to think that we thought we had a relationship with a company that would keep showing the same quality in their maintenance as they did in the sales. I kind of felt like the honeymoon was over and I’m just another number.

Maybe you started out well in a relationship. Lots of promises were made from undying love to unquenchable care. You were wined and dined and treated like royalty. But now that you’re well into the situation you find that there’s not that real care and treatment you thought you would have.  Words are great, but they’re just words. Now you have to live with the consequences. You feel betrayed and uncared for.   It started out great, but in the moments of need you are left without help, without hope, without encouragement.

Oh beloved, the Lord Himself can be trusted! When you enter into the covenant relationship with Him it’s because He gave Himself up for you. But the walk up the hill with your sins on His back isn’t the end of it. His grace, mercy and peace are yours all the way to the grave. They continue on to the resurrection and the life.  They are continually revived for you by His intercession at the Father’s right hand. Not only that, you have a lifetime warranty – the Holy Spirit – who takes up residence, keeps up the maintenance and gives you all the extras that normal life never does. God Himself has signed your everlasting warranty with the Blood of the Lamb! Because He is Perfect Love, He is trustworthy.

God loves you and He’s for you forever and ever, and that’s the best care ever!

Psalm 111:2-4 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them. Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes  us to remember His wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord!

1 Peter 5:7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. AMP

Jude 1:1 This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You and I have a Heart Condition

I am a movie buff. There are certain movies I can watch over and over. They’re the “feel good” kind. I like to feel better after watching a movie. Uplifted, encouraged. I watched one of my favorite movies last night. The male character was a heart attack victim who got help from a friend’s mother. The mother ended up in love with him and he loved her too.  She had no problem expressing her feelings, but he did. It cost him. His inability to submit to the love he felt caused him health symptoms – heart problems. 

In the end of the movie, love wins out. I like that. I believe that. But heart trouble can cause love to be disjointed or disavowed. True love covers a multitude of sins. It thinks of the object of affection first and foremost. It protects, defends and remains. I like that too. Real love is long, and wide and huge and worth it.

Heart trouble is such a personal thing. Often it can be hidden. Often it can be ignored. Often it can be replaced with other things so that hopefully no one will notice. I’ve met all kinds of people who have heart trouble. Pastors, preachers, husbands, wives, teachers, speakers, me.  The problem with heart trouble is that left untreated, sure death will occur. For some it’s physical death and eternal separation. For others it will be the death of their ministry, their marriage, their careers. For unless a person really loves, the heart is not in it. Unless you and I get up in the morning and find the focus of our love and live it for all its worth, we will fail, we will fade, we will lose our strength and our joy.

For the believer, we have wonderful news! God is love! We can find true love, receive it fully and bask in its glory. When we have this Love, Agape love, we can love ourselves, love others and love where God sends us, who God sends us to and what He wants us to do.  We love HIM because He first loved us. But there’s more, oh so much more.  We love each other because He first loved us. We love our calling because He first loved us. We love our fellow believers, ministry partners and spouses – because He first loved us.

Are you experiencing heart trouble? You either gave up on love altogether or you got left at the altar, stood up at the restaurant or put out in the cold in the church, the meeting house, the ministry. You feel great pain, your heart is wounded and your breath is short. It’s hard to go to bed; it’s harder to get up. As the song goes, “You’ve lost that lovin feelin”. You had it, you enjoyed it, you were betrayed and you gave it up.  You could be thinking it’s never going to return for you. You can’t find the spark to get it going anymore.  You’re going through the motions, reading all the lines, practicing the part, but love is not there. You may look good, talk right and seem fine. But your heart is broken or your heart is untouched by the Master’s hand. Either way, it’s a slow death and a sure curse.

If you’re having heart trouble, if you’re having trouble expressing and receiving love, then run to the Great Physician, the Lord Himself! He will either repair your heart or He will give you a complete transplant! He will fix what’s wrong and make it all new! He will restore the love, restore the joy, restore the ministry and more. His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you. You can count on His surgery working every single time. You can count on Him giving you a transfusion of love, forgiveness, peace and joy. No other doctor can fix you. No other person can change you. But God can!

Oh beloved! God loves you and He’s for you. So much so that He’s unwilling to leave you on the gurney of pain, in the intensive care of injury or the morgue of lifelessness. Let Him give you His infusion of love, His heart of ministry and His blessing of grace. To live in the light of His love is glory! Oh how marvelous, oh how wonderful is the Savior’s love for you!

I Corinthians 13 (entire chapter)

John 13:35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

Proverbs 17:3 Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

Proverbs 27:19 As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.

Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Romans 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Who's Filled Your Prescription?

In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, young George worked at the drug store after school. The pharmacist was drunken one day and George found the note that explained the man’s grief stricken stupor: His son had been killed in the war. Because the man was so incredibly distraught he had resorted to drinking at work. George realized that Mr. Gower had filled a prescription with poison and it would disastrous if that prescription got into the hands of the intended customer. George saved the customer’s life and Mr. Gower’s reputation and livelihood by intervening in the situation.

Our youngest daughter was a pharmacy tech for several years before staying home with her children. She knew how important it was to get the prescription right and to make sure the right dosage was administered. Just a small variance in the medicinal recipe could make for weakened medicine, which wouldn’t help at all, or a worse problem. She also knew well what each medicine was for.

God has given us a prescription for life. The prescription fills our exact needs to make for a wonderful life. We don’t have to pay for the prescription or work for it. It is freely administered to each one of us in the exactly right dosage. Our Pharmacist is the Lord Himself and Jesus is His Pharmacy Tech. They don’t make mistakes on the medicine of salvation, sanctification, justification and glorification. There’s no chance of the prescription failing to fulfill its intended use. The Word of God is the perfect manual for administration of it and the usage of it. We have everything we need for life and godliness as God has poured His life giving ointment into our lives. We truly can have a wonderful life.

The problem comes when we are overcome with grief or sorrow or pain. During those dark hours of hurt we may forget or forgo the perfect medicine from the Lord and resort to our own meds. We may try to add to or take away from God’s Word so that the prescription changes and becomes weakened or ineffective. If we add man’s ideas to the mix we’ll have a disaster. Life can be a tough pill to swallow when we forget about the Lord. In our pain we can easily forget the Truth and administer other pain relief to ourselves. Self-medication is disastrous as well. There’s no hope if we mis-medicate, over-medicate or under-medicate our condition.

Are you hurting? Are you trying to work through a serious illness of the body, of the heart of the spirit? Is your soul in anguish over some trial or weakness you can do nothing about? Have you forgotten the source of your life? Have you left the Truth and taken on the lie? It could be anger instead of peace. It could be revenge instead of forgiveness. It could be remorse instead of repentance. It could be a spirit of heaviness instead of the oil of joy. Are you mourning? Are you resorting to the wrong thing thinking it will help? Maybe you’ve discovered the prescription you bargained for is actually arsenic to your life? And now you’re in such a way that you don’t know if you’ll ever regain your strength or be able to live to see the goodness of God again.

Oh beloved! It’s never too late to return to the pure, health giving, life healing Word of God. With the prescription of God’s love, salvation, regeneration, sanctification and godly living all your trials, troubles and sorrows can be handled and your heart will be healed. God Himself promises to administer His life giving ways to you with perfect results. Run to His Word and read: every single promise was written to perfection for you. Every single instruction is pure and simple, reviving your soul, restoring your mind and setting you on the road of comfort and joy. He says to you this morning, come and drink of Me for I AM the perfect Fountain of Life to all who will turn their heart and mind towards Me. Let Me comfort and heal you, for I AM the Lord and I AM with you.

Oh beloved, don’t despair and don’t resort to your own concoction, for God Loves you and He’s For you and there’s nothing more perfect than His Prescription for a Wonderful Life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (Amplified)

1 Corinthians 15:45 Thus it is written, The first man Adam became a living being (an individual personality); the last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving Spirit [restoring the dead to life].

Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God.

Psalm 119:14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.

Proverbs 4:20-23 My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Are Your Cross Ties Secure?

Trains have been a source of enjoyment many times in my life. My dad took me on a train ride in East Texas from Tyler to San Antonio when I was about 10. We ate in the dining car and sat in the observation car.  There was also the Reader Railroad Camden that most kids, in south Arkansas at least, visited during school outings. 

A couple of weeks ago, while heading to church, we were caught by the train that goes through the small town we attend church in. We were right up near the crossing guardrail so we could see the train up close. I watched with amazement as the train wheels of each car rolled onto the rails. Those rails moved! They bent beneath the load of the cars. Although steel is incredibly strong it had to sway as the heavy cars rolled across. If it weren’t for the foundation of rock and cross ties the trains would surely come of their tracks.
The human spirit is strong indeed. Just look at our history.  We’ve overcome huge obstacles and created new countries by traveling across the seas in ships.  Yet in all our strength we are still frail. We bend beneath a load of care. We sway with the sorrow of hard times and we are often derailed by troubles, trials and disappointments.  

Unless we have a secure foundation, the heaviness of life will derail us. Unless we have the right stuff underneath us we are a train wreck just waiting to happen. But when we are secure we can ride the rails of life and never lose hope. We may sway but we won’t come off the track that God has set for us.  

That sure foundation is made of Cross Ties. Our lives must be tied to the cross, nails and all. We must look to the cross as our source of salvation, but not just that. We must look to the cross for strength for every day and to get us to our ultimate destination of heaven. When we are certain an impending wreck is about to happen we can call upon the Lord and He is the everlasting strength to get us through.

Have you been traveling a hard road? Are you unsure of the foundation beneath you? Does the load of cares, hurts, disappointments and more threaten to derail your faith? Do you look at the circumstantial scenery ahead and cringe with fear?  You know that in your own strength you’re not going to make it. At best you’ll be sidelined and at worst your life will be wrecked and useless. 

Oh beloved, run to the Conductor of your life! He’s given you the Ultimate Foundation when Christ went to the Cross.  That foundation never needs repair and the ties never need replacing. One cross is all you will ever need to make it on the rail of life.  He promises to be your everlasting foundation beneath you, your strength when you are weakest, and your way through when barriers block your life. He speaks and the mountains must move. He rides with you, goes before you and travels behind you. He is the bridge over the rivers that would seek to you.  He is everything you will ever need to make it all the way to heaven. He promises that nothing will derail you as long as you look to Him. 

God’s love will hold you up and His care will keep you rolling as you live in the light of His Word. Oh how He loves you and oh how He cares about you and that’s why you can trust Him and ride with Him all the days of your life.

I Corinthians 1:18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

I Corinthians 1:25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

2 Corinthians 13:4 Although He was crucified in weakness, He now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with Him and will have God's power.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength (KJV)

Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.