MORNING PRAYER:

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“Be a Promise Accepter!”

“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us,” 2 Corinthians 1:20

 It’s back to school time around here. Each school year starts out brand new. New backpacks, new supplies, new clothes; along with new hopes and dreams with the anticipation of promise lingering in the air. This is going to be a wonderful year!

By the end of the first month of school, children and sometimes parents too, start looking forward to days off, delayed openings due to weather and such. The reality of the daily grinding and horse race schedules overshadows the promise that was once felt. Instead of realigning oneself to keep hold of the promise that was once felt in the atmosphere, we begin to gripe and complain. Looking forward to the end of the school year, or at least Christmas break for some relief becomes the new goal.

Often times, we treat the promises of God in the same manner also.

He gives us this wonderful volume (the Bible), filled with sixty-six books. And in each of those sixty-six books therein is packed with “more.” God has “more” for you than this. Line upon line and precept upon precept tells us how much He cares for us, loves us, and wants more for us. The Bible starts way back in the book of Genesis with promise. And, it goes all the way through to the end of Revelation. How does it end? With promise! “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen,” (Rev. 22:20-21). That’s a promise!

Unfortunately, as it is with the school year so it is in life. In the beginning, when the promise is fresh we are ecstatic. Then, as the everyday issues begin to settle in it starts to wear on the assurance that once was, leaving one to do nothing but constantly focusing on the end. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” (John 10:10). He doesn’t desire for “life” to be something tolerated. Rather, He wants it filled. And with that, there is the anticipation of something better.

Promise!

Promises only work when one accepts it. You can quote it all that you like, but unless it is internalized as a hopeful thing in the life of each of us, it does absolutely no good. Many people can read of the promises but they can’t believe in them for themselves. Only seeing with the eyes but never touching. They never experience the greatness that God wants to do. That’s not God’s intention for you. “For all the promises of God in Him are yea.”  That means “YES!” Now, it may be just me but when I see the words “all,” and “promises,” and “God,” and “yes,” I get excited! If you are in Christ, God says yes to every promise that comes with that salvation. Yes!

Won’t you accept it today? Yes!

I don’t have enough space or time here to even begin to list what He has in store for us. And, the half has not been told. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him,” (1 Cor. 2:9). The promises are there in His Word. All you have to do is believe it and receive it!

Be a promise accepter today. Go through the Bible, find verses that speak to you right now, highlight them, and write them down or whatever you do to remember a verse, then, lay hold of it as your personal treasure. Let them be your source of strength when life doesn’t feel as “abundant.” Accept what He said anyhow. Step out in faith, holding on to those precious promises for dear life.

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Take A Stand Against Fear

 

“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV

There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because, unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them, and their own lives.

Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10).

That’s what faith sees!

With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life (Esther 4:11).

A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.

With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14).

Being fearless doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid.  It means in spite of it all, I have the courage to take a stand.

In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!

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“Be Empowered!”

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And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Oh, that thorn in the flesh syndrome. That persistent thing that seems like it will never be gone from your life. I would venture to say that most people have dealt with or are currently dealing with that one nagging thing that keeps – well, nagging you! That one thing that causes us to say, “Lord, if You would just move this one thing from my life, I would be alright.” Thorns are hurtful. They are irritating. And yes, they can get in the way of the one who wants to enjoy the blossom. There may be a beautiful rose on the end of the stem, but the thorns can hinder the full enjoyment of holding on to it.

There are times when one may be trying to enjoy the beauty of God’s promises that hurtful things may arise. As one tries to draw nearer and nearer to Him, particular thorns may make it hard to hold on. Thorns can “spring up and choke them,” Matthew 13:7. Nevertheless, despite what our outside circumstances may be telling us, we are taught that we can still live an empowered life. Though we have “infirmities” (and we all do), “grace” is still at work. Grace – that unmerited favor makes room when obstacles get in the way. And God says His grace is “sufficient.” It is enough.

There is only one man who lived in this world perfectly, and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest of us are surviving off God’s grace. We depend on it every single day though we are undeserving of it. He has empowered us through our Lord Jesus Christ to progress on this journey despite all our shortcomings. Every obstacle that we face in life is not going to go away. Oh, how I wish it would. But, what the apostle Paul is teaching us is that we can still succeed in Christ. We can still have a blessed Christian life through His power that “rest upon” us.

Have you ever played tag as a kid? Somebody tried to tag you and get you out, but you gave them the slip and got away. Have you ever, in a victorious romp, stuck your thumbs in your ears as a kid while waving your fingers and chanting, “Nana nana, boo, boo?” Paul had a victorious romp of his own. After he prayed, he realized despite all he was going through, the grace of God was still at work in his life and that it was God’s strength that was being made perfect in Paul’s weakness.  Therefore, Paul confidently declared, “Most gladly… will I rather glory in my infirmities.” 

Don’t you love that? Despite it all, God is still at work in us and through us. He is perfecting some stuff in us and for us, and we can rejoice with Paul.  We are not rejoicing because of the trouble or hurt we experience or encounter. We are rejoicing because we believe in God’s grace, and that allows the power of Christ to rest upon us because we have yielded to Him.

The empowered life is one that yields to Him and recognizes it is His strength being perfected in us. The empowered person can still push forth knowing that God is still at work: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. The hurt may not be over or gone but it’s as if God is reminding us: “I have all you need to make through.”

Please note: Talking about empowerment can easily cause one to divert and take a humanistic view. But, I have strived to keep this God-centered. Everything we need is in Him, and when we can grab hold of that, we become truly empowered.

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“Wisdom is Better!”

“Wisdom is better,” is what I read twice during my devotional reading.  In Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18.  In verse 16 it states that “wisdom is better than strength” and in verse 18 it states that “wisdom is better than weapons of war.”  This had me thinking, how often do we resort to strength and weapons before choosing wisdom to fight the struggles in life?

Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose author is God?  Many of life’s mistakes are made from rash human impulses instead of the patient endurance of wisdom that God provides.  Christians especially are admonished to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Wisdom is better!”  James 1:5 gives us the key to finding this wisdom to help with life’s choices.  He said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be give him.”  God will freely supply for the heart that seeks wisdom rather than the harried messes of one’s own way.

Today, choose wisdom.  It’s always the better option.

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“Will I Be Worthy?”

Will I be worthy - pagemodo pic

Will I be worthy

in that day

when the clouds part

shining redemptive rays?

 

Will I be worthy

before the Son

rising with the saints

together as one?

 

Will I be worthy

to gain a crown,

with robes of righteousness

as my dressing gown?

 

Will I be worthy

to bask in that glory

when the books are opened

exposing my story?

 

Will I be worthy

to hear, “Well done;”

to enter for eternity

where’s there’s no need for sun?

 

Will I be worthy?

The answer is, “No,”

if on my own accord

I try to go.

 

My own works cannot mark me as good,

but if on Christ’s sacrifice I have stood;

my unworthy, sinful, scarlet state

counts me as worthy, by His grace.

 “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,

and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

“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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“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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“Rabbi, is it I?”

“Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?'” Matthew 26:25, NKJV

Love betrayed. The betrayed and the betrayer locked in questioning gaze. A tension of certainty and doubt filling the air of what was to be a beautiful last dinner spent with His disciples.

On the one hand, is Christ. He has done nothing but show love, concern, and compassion toward all who met Him. From the miracles to the teachings, He has treasured each life that came across His path enough to compel Him to know that the cross was the only way to save them all. Love was His motto.

Then, there is Judas Iscariot. The betrayer. The sell-out. The one who was close to Christ but now has become an enemy of Christ. Selfishness is what compelled him to give it all up for thirty pieces of silver. Gain and greed were his mottoes. Love didn’t matter anymore.

The two together at dinner with the question in the air:

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Have you ever felt the sting of betrayal by someone to whom you have poured out love? It doesn’t feel good. Our Lord amazes me! He knew all things and yet subjected Himself to all things. He carried it all to the cross with the burgeoning of love in His very being. He suffered affliction, ridicule, and torment. Yet, those He loved and walked with these three and half years of His earthly ministry are nowhere to be found. One sold Him out and the others fled or denied Him altogether.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

Love causes us to do some crazy things. Love makes us suffer long with people who have worked our last nerve. Love keeps us from giving up and giving in. Love centers us back to the real mission at hand: which is to love some more.

Love caused Christ to look into the face of His betrayer and say, “You have said it.” Love put the plan in motion that will pay the price for it all. Love gave the okay for the process to start, redeeming man from themselves and the sin that had them bound.

Have you ever wished you could save someone you love from the mistakes they are making? Has the love you shown over the years not reaped the rewards you were hoping for? Has the one you loved turned their back on you?

Feelings that come from these questions don’t feel good. No more for us than they did for Christ. But, when we view His life and all that He dealt with in light of our questions, it breathes a new life of appreciation in all that He has done for us.

“Rabbi, is it I?”

We have not always been our best. We have not always crossed every T or dotted every I, yet, He continues to love. We have not always followed every command or taken every stand that we ought to, yet, He continues to love.

The next time when the love we shed for another seems to be all for naught, remember Christ. Remember how His love was betrayed. Remember how His love was afflicted. Remember how His love compelled Him to continue.

Remember all He did for every one of us despite us not being at our best. Let the knowledge of His love cover us today. Yup, it hurts sometimes but let that knowing what He did for us compel us to act as He did – with Love!

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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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