“Your Hearts Shall Live!”

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“And you who seek God, your hearts shall live,” Psalm 69:32

How many go through their day complacent in the status quo?  No passion for life.  No zeal for better.  Just run the ordinary course of the ordinary life jogger, following the crowd, content with a heart that’s just beating but not alive.

A heart that is alive thrills at the unknown.  A heart that is alive craves to pump its life source throughout every crevice of its being.  Those who seek for God are not content with just the rhythmic beat of every other man.  It wants to thump against the chest wall to express the life that lives in it.

When one seeks God it stirs up something on the inside of them.  It stirs a wanting of more.  Kind of like a first love.  You seek to be near that person or to simply hear their voice.  When contact is made it makes the heart beat a little faster and you feel alive!  God promises those that look for Him with that same passion your hearts shall live.  Your heart will tell a story all its own about the love that dwells in it for the one you seek.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10).  He wants hearts alive; hearts that live for seeking Him more and more.  From that they will reap not the status quo rather an abundance of life that flows from Him.  If the beat of your heart is a little slower these days, or your faith is not getting as excited as it used at the first, check to see who or what you have been seeking after.  It may be that you have been looking for love, acceptance and passion everywhere but the right place.  But, we have this promise, “you who seek God, your hearts shall live!”

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“Stop the Madness!”

“. . . And bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

“I cannot get this thought out of my mind!” That is the howl of frustration that has come from many persons I know. It has probably come from you, too. The relentless, almost like water dripping from the faucet thoughts, that drip, drip, drip their way into your mind. Sometimes making your head spin with a bothersome problem. If those thoughts were pleasant to us, then we would not mind it so much. It would cause us to feel as though we were walking through a field of flowers all day long. It’s when the invasion of unpleasant thoughts comes and messes with our peaceful reverie that we have a problem. These things continually bounce off the mind, not allowing rest for the soul.

The apostle Paul taught, “Take every thought captive.” The Christian must make a conscious effort to have a fly trap mentality. There is a barrier that every individual is to put up to guard their precious mind. That barrier is the Word of God. Whatever does not fall in line with Him and His Word is supposed to be trapped and discarded as refuse like that old, dirty fly trap. There is some bothersome stuff that people put up with every day. They are buzzing around your head and just plain ole getting on your nerves. I mean, you really wish you could tear it out of there and throw it away. Guess what? I have good news for you you can. Today, you can stop the madness because the Word of God declares, “You will keep him perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You!” (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV).

When you are dealing with all that annoying stuff, it is robbing you of the peace that God wants you to have in Him. As I am writing this, I am looking at my cats stretched out on the floor, sleeping. Outside there is some stonework cutting going on using a loud machine not far from my window. When the work first began, it caused their ears to perk up, and I think they were wondering what is going on out there. As time went on, they stopped wondering and started sleeping. I guess they figured, hey, whatever is going on out there does not affect me in here. I am in my safety. I am in my shelter. I am in my place of trust.

That is what God wants each of us to experience in Him. This kind of rest and peace only comes with first, trusting Him, and secondly, taking every thought captive. These two working together will give you the peace you so desire. After all, who does not want more peace? One can have all the money in the world and be miserable because there is no peace of mind.

Stop the madness. “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” I once heard this described as a wrestling match. I forget who I heard it from, but the idea is taking hold of that thought, pinning it to the ground, and making it obey Christ. If that thought does not profit my spiritual growth in God or my relationship with people or any of the good stuff God wants for me, then it is to be pinned down. It is not allowed to get the victory today. It is not even allowed in the ring with me.

How do I do that? “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” (Phil. 4:8). That is how you do it. I know from personal experience how easy it is to focus on all the negative stuff that tries to rob you of peace. But if you will change, on purpose, the focus of your thought life, you will begin to experience what God said you can have. I have heard it said that if you keep doing the same thing then you will keep getting the same results. No truer is that than here, in dealing with what you think throughout the day.

So, instead of letting all that madness of wrong thoughts overrun you – today, stand up against it. Take control of it and capture it. It is not allowed to have access. Today, declare, it is time to “Stop the madness!”

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“God, Guide Me Today Prayer” + 10 More Inspirational Quotes and Verses about God’s Leading and Direction

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Father God, 

Where I go today, I pray it be only in the path You have directed for me.

If I stumble today, I pray it only be into the deep waters of grace You have provided for me.

If I fall today, I pray that it only be into the arms of Jesus where I know I am held and loved.

No matter what comes my way and no matter where You lead me, I pray that my eyes will only be focused on You; my Rock and my Stay.  Please, God, guide me today for I don’t know what the day may hold, but I do know that You are holding my day!

Amen!

Proverbs 16:9 – “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

Psalm 37:23 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.”

Psalm 25:12 – “What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.”

Charles Stanley – “Earthly wisdom is doing what comes naturally. Godly wisdom is doing what the Holy Spirit compels us to do.”

Thomas Merton – “For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.”

Frederick Buechner – “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Psalm 25:10 – “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”

Luke 22:42 – “Not my will, but thine, be done.”

Dr. Tony Evans – “When you realize God’s purpose for your life isn’t just about you, He will use you in a mighty way.”

Joanna Gaines – “God, . . . I trusted you with my dream and you took it far beyond what I ever could have dreamed or imagined.”

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I AM THE LORD!

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Reading in Leviticus chapter 22, in the middle of what seems to be a bunch of rules, regulations, and requirements for offerings, these four words stand out in the midst of them all: I AM THE LORD. Looking further, you will see these words appear in this exact order seven times in this one chapter alone.

Many shy away from reading through books such as Leviticus because they can be lengthy and somewhat boring to read for some. In a book that is filled with details and sacrifice, commandments and consecrations, what to eat and what not to eat, cleanness and uncleanness, relationships and feasts, laws and penalties – all was laid out with this purpose in mind: worshipping God in the holiness He deserves, because, as He said, “I AM THE LORD!”

If you do a deeper study, you will see that these four words appear throughout this entire book, not just chapter 22, many, many more times.

The gist of it all is what I think most, even in our modern churches and lives, forget that everything we do, we do for the Lord. Our lives, our worship, are not our own. We are to be dedicated to Him and give Him what is due to His holy name.

When we come before God, we are to have a devoted mindset and heart. Our worship is to be as pure as any sacrifices offered unblemished before the Lord in the Old Testament. Our lives are to be pure and open vessels ready to receive what His Spirit pours into us, and in turn, we are to pour out His blessings into the lives of others.

What are we giving to God daily? What are we offering to Him in our times of worship?

God wants the best of us!

He wants holy lives that recognize and live for Him because of who He is: the LORD! He is God, the Author and Creator of the universe and beyond. He is as supreme as supreme can get, and He deserves to be reverenced as such. The Bible states, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Other parts of Leviticus tell us, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God” (20:7).

God wants holiness in our lives and our worship. I love a message that pronounces blessings just as much as the next person, but without holiness, it means absolutely nothing in His sight. As a whole, we need to come back to the central theme of true holiness because the LORD requires nothing less.

I am not talking about rules and regulations, but rather hearts fully dedicated to Him because they recognize that He is the LORD, and they want to give Him the best of themselves. And, that is a holy life.
We must never lose sight of, diminish, or bring down to our level the glory and honor God deserves. He is the LORD! He is Sovereign overall! He is Master! He is Savior! He is King! “I AM THE LORD!” He exclaimed, and holiness before Him is what He desires.

Amen!

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“God is for the Unloved!”

People can live without a lot of things in this world but love is not one of them.  True love holds you in good times and bad.  Love is there for you when the storms of chaotic mess are ravaging your life.  Love shelters when you feel as though your house is being blown in by the big bad wolf.

Love.

The strongest of all of God’s attributes is love.  In fact, the Bible tells us, “God is love,” (1 John 4:8).  With that in mind, it is no wonder He is a defender of the unloved.  God knows the inner man needs the nourishment of love to help him through the struggles of this life.  He goes to bat for them filling the gap where man seems to lack.

In Genesis 29:31 we see someone who is struggling with feelings of being unloved.  It seems no matter what she does she can’t get a break or find favor with those whom she is seeking it from.  Her attempts have gone unrewarded.  Her heart lays empty from unfulfilled desire.  “Oh, to be truly loved,” must have been her silent, lamenting plea that soaked her pillow with tears as she lay her head down at night.

Man ignored her and left her feeling hated.  In such a condition, where would her life end up if not for the intervention of the Lord?

But, God stepped in.

He pays attention to those silent pleas.  God sees the heart that is rent from the lack of human compassion and kindness.  God sees the emptiness and He stands up to fight for her cause.  “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated (other versions use the word “unloved”), he opened her womb…,” (Genesis 29:31).

This really gives us a clear view of how much God wants us to be loved.  It shows that no matter what others may or may not be doing to you or for you, God is for the unloved and the hated.  God doesn’t like to see people in a hurt condition, and if no one else will alleviate the silent suffering of this woman, then He would.

Powerful!

God’s love is no joke and how He is concerned about people who are lacking love in their lives is no joke.  God is for them.  God is for you.  Others may not always see the hurt that goes on inside, but God does.  People will not always pay attention to your tears, but God has every one of them recorded.  The psalmist said, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8).

God knows it all.  Your hurts, your pain, your silent sufferings have not escaped His eyes of compassion.  If you are feeling unloved, turn to God today.  Unload every burdensome feeling on Him: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).

God loves you and He wants you to feel loved.  He stepped in for Leah and satisfied her need for love and He can do the same for you too.  Let Him be your ultimate source of love.  His love is like no other.

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“Come to the Waters”

 

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters . . .” Isaiah 55:1

Come to the waters, the Lord beckons.  This world will tire you out and the pursuit of it will leave you drained.  Refreshment can only be found in Him.  As one traipsing through a desert of darkness that this world so often leads you through, His plentiful Spirit will satiate the aridness and will water your life where it was once dry.

Do you need that touch from Him?

Come!

Do you need that refreshing spring that flows from the everlasting Father?

Come!

Do you need the tenderness and hope that can only be found in the stream of His salvation?

Come!

Do you need to be rejuvenated into new birth in the waters of His spiritual deliverance?

Then, come!

Don’t lighten your pace.  Run with haste to the pool of His mercy and grace, and come.  Don’t let anyone stop you from dipping in.  Dive in with full surrender and with full abandon, and come.

A sip just won’t do.  We are thirsty for You, O God!  We have nothing to offer for the price You paid, yet, You say come.  We have no value on our own, but You speak, come anyway.  There is no good thing that dwells in our flesh (Romans 7:18), but You invite us to draw near to You and come.

Come to the waters.  Step into the abundant life He so offers (John 10:10).  Come and let your soul be spiritually satisfied.  Come and take the offer of His salvation for yourself.

Come, and don’t turn away.  Don’t give up this great treasure that can only be found in God.  Don’t let the delight of what the Lord Jesus Christ bought for you on that cross slip through your fingers.

“Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live . . .” (Isaiah 55:3, NKJV).  Live in Him.  Live in the peace He offers through the pouring out of His blood.  Live a life free from spiritual drought because you were once thirsty and you came and partook of His holy waters.

Yes, this world will dry you out, but He restores, He redeems, and He puts in right fellowship with Him every thirsty soul that comes to Him and drinks.  Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” (John 4:14).

Therefore, come to the Water!

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Don’t Speak Against the Destiny God has for You!

Throughout the Bible, we are taught to use our speech patterns in healthy and productive ways.  Not only toward others, but also toward ourselves.

There is so much power bound up in the way we talk.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  Whatever is produced from our lips generates fruit.  Stuff grows, for the good or the bad, off of what we say.

James gives us the best possible illustrations of the power of the tongue by referencing it to two things we can easily understand.  In James 3:3-4 he writes, “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths,  that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.”  Through these two examples using a horse and a ship, James shows that mankind has down through the years discovered ways to bring these powerful objects under control.

Both of these instruments are used for control.  They both direct the course of which way the operator wants each to go, be it a rider or the governor.  Both are great examples of how these large and strong objects can be made to comply with the will of him who is controlling that little, vital piece.  If these little things under proper control can move great objects into obeisance at its master’s will, what more of the little tongue?

Our tongue not only makes an impact on the lives of others but we, ourselves, can fall victim to the outbursts of the tongue.  We have to make sure our mouth matches up with our mission.  Don’t speak against your own destiny!

Doubts can arise within a person and cause them to speak against what God wants to do through them.  Our words are powerful!  We have to choose life and blessings with the words that we speak, even to ourselves.  Make sure your mouth matches your mission.

More Encouraging Verses:

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life . . .” Proverbs 13:3

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life . . .” Proverbs 15:4

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

“A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.” Proverbs 18:20

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

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Devotional – “Jesus Questions Trust”

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8b

What would it be like to sit across from Jesus, face to face, and have Him question your trust? Would we be able to look Him in the eye as we pondered our answer? Would our heads be bowed, feeling unworthy to lift it and look into the eyes of love pleading with us to believe? What would be like? I imagine it would be self-revealing because in those questions we find where our hearts and our true belief lies. It reveals where we stand in our faith.

I have never read or heard of anyone, anywhere who tries so hard to get people to believe in Him, for their good, outside of Christ. He, who had pleaded with mankind through these pages of history to trust Him with their life and everything it entails. He, who has welcomed the problems and prayers of others into His person to carry so that we don’t have to.

Face to face. Pleading eyes. Questioning trust.

In Luke 18, that is what I see playing out. Jesus is telling a parable of a widow woman who just will not give up seeking justice. Day after day she sought the judge and became a downright pest about it. In her perseverance, she basically wore the man down until she was avenged.

Jesus used this parable to get the point of persistent prayer across. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not faint,” (Luke 18:1, KJV). Jesus knew that men and women everywhere would have to believe that if they continually seek the Father, He hears them. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” (John 16:24, KJV).

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Jesus questions trust. He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer. He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere. He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance in bringing every request and problem before God in prayer. This is what Jesus is getting at. True faith unencumbered. True faith takes the shackles off of God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows and He will answer.

Bringing out the faith of people was a key in Jesus’ ministry. How often had He declared that it was by faith one was healed? In the story of the Ten Lepers, to the one who came back to “give glory to God,” (Luke 17:18, KJV), He said, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole,” (Luke 17:19, KJV).

How much are we missing out on through our lack of faith? Jesus is questioning us, will we have the faith to respond? Do we trust Him enough to bring all our cares, problems, and issues before Him, laying them at His feet?

The Bible says, “Thou shalt call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am . . .,” (Is. 58:9, KJV). “Here I am.” God is not far off. When we venture to trust Him enough to cry out in the midst of our mess, He responds, “Here I am.” The word “here” indicates a present closeness. “I Am” is the name God gave Moses to assure those in Egypt, Ex. 3:14. Whatever they needed God to be, “I AM” has got it all under control because He is God all by Himself. He does not exist because of another. He does not depend upon another. His power is not contingent upon another. He is “I AM!” And, the Great “I AM” says, “Here I am!” Can’t we trust Him?

Faith and prayer go hand in hand. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Heb. 11:6, KJV). Without established trust in Him and His promises, we are unable to effectively move God with our prayers. We are unable to please Him. Why? Because without that leading trust, the basic requirements of faith cannot be filled. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” They must believe in His existence (previous paragraph) and they must believe that He is concerned enough to hear the call of them that cry out to Him and answer them. Trust.

“Shall he find faith on earth?” Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4, KJV).

The persistence of the widow woman encourages us to keep coming and not give up. Hold on to your faith and trust in God and keep praying – keep laying it before our great God who hears and will take action. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7, KJV). Jesus said, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Will there be some that really believe? The reason for this parable was to teach men not to give up – to keep praying and believing that God hears and that He is able to take care of it all. Do we trust Him enough to let it go and give it to God today? You may have to come every day and lay it on the altar of prayer – so be it. That’s how the widow got her case heard.

In this questioning of trust, Jesus is also demonstrating an open invitation for us to lay every hindrance down before God in prayer. Prayer works! Persistent prayer works! Persistent prayer plus faith works!

The pleading Savior is asking us to trust.

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“Focus Shift!”

 

“It’s all in how you look at it.”  At least, that’s what I hear some say.  Perspective, if you will, changes one’s outlook on a lot of things in life.

How do you view the position you are in now?  Is everything going okay for you or are you finding yourself fighting through, just trying to make it to the other side of adversity?

Perspective.

It’s rather hard to see the glass as half full when you feel half empty.  To imagine a silver lining when in all honesty all I see is dark clouds.  And, somebody must have put a rock at the end of my tunnel blocking out all light because I just don’t see it.

Perspective.

How we feel matters, but then again, it doesn’t matter.

When we feel positive and optimistic it is easy for us to shower others with attention and be pressed into service for their needs.  But, when we are in the midst of trials and travail, the negative and pessimistic seem to take up residence in our being, hindering us from bothering with anyone else other than ourselves and our own needs.

As I was pondering this I thought about Jesus on the cross.  It dawned on me, in the midst of the worse thing He would ever have to endure, how much He had a focus shift.  How much He paid attention to the needs of others despite what He was going through.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do,” (Luke 23:34, NKJV).

Focus shift.  Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not cease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’   And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home,” (John 19:26-27, NKJV).

This is a blessed Son indeed.  Women in biblical times had no authority or protection if it were not for certain members of the family establishing care for them.  This is what we see Jesus doing here.  What did His mother have to endure?  Any mother out there knows and can sympathize with the sheer agony of heartbreak that Mary must have been going through.

He had to go.  He had to die.  But that didn’t make it any easier for her to comprehend.  It didn’t soothe the heartbreak at all!  A mother’s love doesn’t work like that.  It’s a special connection of heart that starts at the time of conception and never leaves her.  Jesus knew she needed special care.  This woman who had raised Him and loved Him through it all needed to be looked after in a special way.

In His time of desperation, it is a blessing that He shifted the focus and thought about Momma!

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43, NKJV).

Sinner.  Thief.  Criminal.  Yet, on the cross, he got the attention of Jesus.  How?  He had a repentant heart.  No matter what Jesus was going through He could never turn a blind eye to the one who wants to get right with God.  To the one who bears true, sincere, godly sorrow for all that he has done.

At that point in time, Jesus had been on the cross for a while.  How hard would it have even been for Him to push the air out of His lungs to form the words, “You . . . will . . . be . . . with . . . Me . . . in . . . Paradise?”  His body was fighting against Him in the battle between death and life, yet it was as if He couldn’t be bothered with the demands of His personal pain.  Somebody was seeking salvation, even in this late hour, Jesus stepped up the plate to care for the other man’s needs.  Focus shift.

Jesus knew what He was going through.  He wasn’t blind to the fact that He was in pain.  It’s what He CHOSE to do in spite of it all.  He CHOSE to focus on others!

You know what you are going through.  And, I’m sure you are not blind to the trouble you may face today.  But, what about others?  I observe people very closely.  Sometimes I wonder why does that man have sad eyes?  What thoughts are going through the one sitting on the steps over there?  That lady wrestling with a stroller, shopping bags, and kids on the bus stop, what does she have to face when she gets home?  I try to think about the “behind the scenes” of a person’s life.

Am I always successful?  No, but I do try very hard to be compassionate toward the people I come across.  We never know what someone is going through.  We never know when someone needs us to pay a little attention to them.  Jesus showed us that we can do that even in the hardest of times.

A tall order to fill?  Yes!  But one that will make a great impact in the lives we come across today.  You can even start right in your own home.  How can we pay more attention to the needs of those around us?

“It’s all in how you look at it.”

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