Archive for March, 2008

Search Me, O God, And Know My Heart

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Psalm 139:23-24 KJV
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if [there be any] wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

The 4th Step, taking one’s own inventory, can be quite intimidating. But like many other things in our lives as Christians, it should be approached first and foremost in prayer.

By literally getting down on our knees and praying, much in the same way as the Psalmist did above, several things happen.

First we open ourselves up to God. Like opening up a book, we open our souls to Him–exposing all the contents of all the pages from beginning to end. We ask Him to search us and know our hearts and thoughts. We ask Him to examine our hidden motives, our fantasies, our personalities and our deepest hidden secrets.

Secondly, by coming to God in prayer we make ourselves available to Him. By doing this we not only ask Him to look at us but we also offer ourselves to Him as children who are willing and eager to learn. We open ourselves up to receive the fullness of His power.

Thirdly, we ask for His guidance, His help. We ask him if f there is any wickedness in us and to help us to find it. On our own we are quite blind. But the Lord can remove the scales from our eyes, just as He did for Paul on the road to Damascus. Instead of seeing things through
human eyes we will start seeing them through the eyes of God. We will not be judging ourselves by human standards, but by God’s standards.

Lastly, we become willing to change. We ask that He guide us in His everlasting ways instead of our own crooked paths. We become willing to look in new directions–His directions; at new
possibilities–His possibilities; with renewed spirits infilled with His incredible Holy Spirit.

When you sit down to take your inventory (whether it is for the first time or for the zillionth time) start out with a prayer. If you are having trouble praying, then repeat verbatim the Psalmists words. You will find a sense of freedom, purpose and renewal as you proceed with your own inventory.

Copyright 2008, Christians in Recovery®. All rights Reserved

Sympathy in One Another’s Joys and Sorrows

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

“Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives heard that
the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they
rejoiced with her.” Luke 1:58

We see here a striking example of the kindness
we owe to one another. It is written that “they
rejoiced with her.” How much more happiness
there would be in this evil world, if conduct like
this was more common!

Sympathy in one another’s joys and sorrows
costs little, and yet is a grace of most mighty power.

Like the oil on the wheels of some large engine,
it may seem a trifling and unimportant thing; yet
in reality it has an immense influence on the comfort
and well working of the whole machine of society.

A kind word of congratulation or consolation is
seldom forgotten. The heart that is warmed by
good tidings, or chilled by affliction, is peculiarly
susceptible, and sympathy to such a heart is
often more precious than gold.

Sympathy is one of those ornaments of the Christian
character which make it beautiful in the eyes of men.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep
with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Luke” 1858)

The Hidden Scars

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 King James Version

There are two kinds of scars, the visible scars and the hidden scars. When someone gets hurt physically, we can sometimes see the scars but when someone gets hurt emotionally only Jesus can see the scars. Jesus is the only one who can heal us when we have been hurt emotionally.

There is no medicine that a doctor can prescribe that will help a broken heart. There is no operation that will heal a broken heart. All the counseling and all the therapy in the world will not heal a heart that has emotional hidden scars. It takes our precious, loving and understanding Saviour pouring His compassionate, tender and unconditional love on the hidden scars in our hearts to give us a reason to go on.

People who have been raped have hidden scars in their hearts that they don’t want to share with people. Sometimes people have had to give up a child for adoption due to circumstances beyond their control and their scars are very deep. Their pain and their grief are overwhelming to the point that sometimes they are unable to even do normal everyday things. Only Jesus can fully comprehend the heartaches that they have.

There are people who are the victims of spousal abuse and they too have hidden scars in their hearts. There are people who are being abused by their children and they don’t want to tell anyone so they put on a mask and smile so others won’t know. Yes, Jesus is the only one who can take the pain, grief and horror from the hearts of these people.

However, you and I need to encourage them, comfort them and be there for these people and for anyone else who is broken hearted and hurting. You may feel inadequate to help these people. You may not know what to say. The best thing to do when you don’t know what to say is to put your arms around these people who are hurting and tell them that Jesus understands and cares. Many times words are inadequate anyway.

What we say to someone who is hurting is sometimes meaningless to the person. However, our kind and loving actions to the person will never be forgotten. The person may not be able to express his or her appreciation while going through the crisis but later when the sharp pain has let up a little, the person will remember and be grateful for what we did to express our concern, compassion and understanding.

I have a friend who I have known for over twenty years. Her son worked from midnight until eight in the morning. He was found dead outside his place of employment. He had been struck by lightning and had been electrocuted. My friend’s grief was almost unbearable to see. I didn’t know what to say to her so I just hugged her and didn’t say anything.

I wrote her a long letter telling her how I was grieving with her and how her son had made such a valuable contribution to the community. She told me that she was unable to read that letter until four years after her son died. She also said that it had comforted her just to know that I had cared enough to write the letter.

If you have hidden scars in your heart, know this, our precious Saviour does see them and He does care that you are hurting. He longs to comfort you as only He can. Tell Him that you are hurting and that you don’t think you can give another smile or go another mile. He will be faithful to tenderly kiss away the pain, the horror and the grief from your heart.

I believe that when Jesus was here on earth that He too had hidden scars in His heart that only His Father could see. He had been abused emotionally and rejected so many times by so many people that His heart must have been broken time and time again. Yes, we can comfort and encourage people and we need to do this but only Jesus can take the horror and pain of being raped or having to place a child for adoption from our hearts. Only He can kiss away the hurt and pain from our hearts. He not only gives us a new heart when we are saved; He also restores hope and joy to us. Thank God for our precious Saviour who truly loves us and cares about us.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

His Heart Was Broken

Monday, March 24th, 2008

“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.” Exodus 15: 1-2, 19 King James Version

We have a Heavenly Father who is very protective of us. He protects us from the storms of life and He also protects us from ourselves when we try to do things and go places that are not good for us or are not in His perfect will for our lives. We should always thank and praise God for His protection just as Moses and the children of Israel thanked and praised Him. However, when He had to drown Pharaoh and his army in the sea, it broke His heart.

Yes, His heart was broken that day when He brought the waters of the sea upon Pharaoh and his army. His heart will always be broken and He will always hurt when He has to punish us. Our dear Heavenly Father is a loving Father and it hurts Him to have to punish us. I believe with all of my heart that when He had to make satan leave Heaven that He hurt and His heart was broken.

God will always protect the ones who are being abused and mistreated, but we need to remember that He loves everybody and it hurts Him when He has to act harshly with people. We would do well as parents to have this same kind of love for our children that God has for His children.

When we have to correct and punish our children we need to do it out of a heart of love to teach them right from wrong, not because we are angry with them. It is very important that when we do have to correct our children and punish them that we tell them that we still love them. They may not believe us but we need to prove that we love them by not treating them like they are terrible children. There are some parents who will not speak to their children when they do something wrong. I am so glad that our precious Heavenly Father still talks to us when we are disobedient.

Is your heart broken when you have to correct your children, or does it make you happy when you can put them in their rooms so you don’t have to look at them? If God can still look at us and talk to us after we fail Him, how much more should we as parents treat our children the same way. Every time that you and I do something or say something that upsets God and He has to correct us, He does it because He loves us. Let’s determine to be the kind of parents to our children as God is to us.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

Why?

Friday, March 21st, 2008

"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said" (Matthew 28:6).

Just the other day I was talking with my niece Andrea, whose adorable baby girl, Annabelle, is just six months old. Yet even though Annabelle isn’t talking yet, Andrea is already preparing for the onslaught of "why" questions that is sure to come.

All children want to know why, and they ask the question with abandon: "Why does the sun shine?" "Why is my hair brown?" "Why do cows moo?" "Why is water wet?"

There seems to be no end to their why questions, and often the answer to one provokes yet another. And so we adults, who often don’t know the answers ourselves, continue to try to satisfy their curiosity and quest for knowledge.

But what about us? How often do we ask God why? How often do we seek explanations for those things that can’t be known this side of eternity? God, of course, always knows the answer, and He has already given it: "Because He lives."

That, of course, is the title of one of my favorite songs, and it answers every question imaginable. Why do I sing? Because He lives. Why do I worship? Because He lives. Why do I rejoice? Because He lives. Why do I suffer? Because He lives. Why do I weep? Because He lives. Why do I do anything that I do? Because He lives.

He came to earth to die for us?for you and me, for our sins?and He fulfilled His mission. That’s what Good Friday is all about. But hallelujah, that isn’t the end of the Story! Resurrection Day was right around the corner! Jesus said He would rise again?and He did! And because He lives, we who believe in Him will live also, forever and always, in eternity in His presence.

And that’s all the reason we need to joyfully serve a risen Savior!

Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers, July 2008) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

Keep the Door Locked

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20 King James Version

I keep the doors to my home locked all of the time because there is so much violence these days. I do not open the door unless I recognize the voice and I never open the door when it is dark unless I first see who it is. It doesn’t matter if I think that the person is a member of my family because anyone can say that he or she is someone else. I turn on my porch light and ask them to step where I can see them.

Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks for us to let Him in. For some people, He has been standing at the door of their hearts and knocking for many years. However, they have refused to unlock the door to their hearts and let Him come into their hearts. He is the only one who has the key to salvation and it is only through His precious blood which He shed for us on the cruel cross of Calvary that we may have the forgiveness of our sins.

If we have asked Him to forgive us for our sins and let Him into our hearts, we need to give Him the key to our hearts and let Him control who enters our hearts. When I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour on August 14, 1980, I gave Him the key to my heart and I promised Him that I would never open the door to my heart to anyone else. I asked Him to please take control of the door to my heart. So unless He unlocks the door and allows someone into my heart and tells me that it is safe to trust the person, I do not have a close relationship with the person.

We are to be friendly to everyone but we need to be very careful about who we form a close relationship with because it only takes one person to pull us down. On the other hand, it only takes one person to pick us up. Just as Adam pulled us down into sin when he disobeyed God, so our precious Saviour picks us up out of our sins through His precious, cleansing and atoning blood. He not only forgives us for our sins; He also gives us a new life and a new heart and never holds our sins against us again.

Too many times we are lured and enticed by the temptations of the world and we open the door of our hearts to our enemy, satan. By doing so, we make the way for satan to attack us with discouragement, heartaches, criticism, sarcasm and ridicule. We read in the Bible "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5: 8).

Even if we only open the door to our hearts a little crack, that is all that satan needs to start an attack that will devastate us. Our enemy, satan, is very sneaky because he will entice us with things that are beautiful and look appealing. However, if we will trust Jesus to let into our hearts who He wants in our hearts and what is good for us and what is in His perfect will for our lives, we will live a much more joyful and peaceful life. It is always safe to trust Jesus.

Have you given Jesus the key to your heart or have you given it to satan? If you have given it to Jesus, you will have peace, joy, happiness and contentment. If you have given it to satan, you will live a discouraged and defeated life. I urge you to allow Jesus to control who and what comes into your heart. He is very protective and He will only allow into your heart people that He approves and things that are good for you. Again, who has the key to your heart, Jesus or satan?

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

The Same Day

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24 King James Version

When I was praying and asking God what He wanted me to write in today’s devotion, God spoke to my heart and said "Tell them that I said, when someone asks Me to save somebody, I start knocking very loudly on the door to the person’s heart immediately. However, many times the person refuses to open the door to his or her heart".

What a loving Heavenly Father we have! What grace, mercy and kindness He bestows upon us. Yes, He hears our prayers and He always answers our prayers. He either says "yes", "no", or "wait". However, there are times when He will not hear our prayers because our hearts are not right before Him.

We read in the Bible "Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59: 1, 2).

We must do a heart checkup and ask Him to please forgive us for failing and hurting Him before we ask Him for anything. Our dear Heavenly Father is a Holy God and we need to treat Him with the respect that He deserves. How dare you and I ask God for anything if we have not first asked Him to remove anything in our hearts that offends and hurts Him.

Just as our Heavenly Father hears us and answers us the same day so we must also hear and answer when someone asks us for help the same day. Ten years ago, I was in a very difficult situation. It was an emergency situation and I called someone and asked for help. The person didn’t do anything to help me that day or even the next day. It was almost two weeks before the person responded to my emergency situation. When the person did respond, the remark was made "You expect me to drop everything and come to your aid the next day".

What I expected was for the person to respond to my need the same day. When people tell us that they are in the middle of a crisis and need help, we should not wait until the next day to help them. How sad, dear people, that we have become so indifferent to a cry for help that we would neglect our families, our loved ones and our friends when they are hurting and in the middle of an emergency situation.

One day, we may be the ones who need help and if we aren’t loving and giving to people who come to us for encouragement and help, it is doubtful that we will receive help when we need help. I’m sure that you have heard the saying "You get back what you give out." That is a true statement.

How is your heart today? If Jesus were to look into your heart right this minute, would He find it filled with bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, sarcasm, criticism and hatred for others, or would He find it filled with unconditional love for others?

If we expect our Heavenly Father who is a Holy God to answer our prayers the same day, then you and I need to respond the same day when someone comes to us for help. I don’t know about you, but the hardest thing I ever have to do is to ask for help. I don’t do it often. I only do it when it is a real emergency. If you have ever had to humble yourself and ask someone for help, then you understand how I feel.

When we ask Jesus to forgive us, He forgives us the same day. He doesn’t make us wait until we have proved to Him that we have changed. He forgives us and never holds it against us again. Oh, that you and I would follow the example of our precious Saviour and forgive the ones that have hurt us the same day they ask for forgiveness. So many times, we tell people that we forgive them, but our hearts are still filled with resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. Until we forgive others from our hearts, just as Jesus forgives us from His heart, we have not forgiven them.

Let’s start forgiving people the same day they ask us to forgive them and let’s start responding to a desperate cry for help the same day. It will make Jesus very happy. Remember, when we do something for others, we are doing it for Jesus. We read in the Bible "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25: 40). What have you done for Jesus today?

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

God’s Beach Towel

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” Psalm 56:8-11 King James Version

If you have ever gone to the beach, you probably have seen a lot of beach towels. We can also see them hanging in department stores. They are much larger than regular towels and they are usually bright and colorful. God also has a beach towel and it is bright with the light of Jesus and colorful with the precious atoning blood of our loving Saviour which He shed for us on the cruel cross of Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins.

We could put all the beach towels in the world side by side and they wouldn’t even begin to compare with the size of God?s beach towel. His beach towel of unconditional love and protection covers the whole world. Not only does God put our tears in His bottle; He also cleans up the shattered pieces of our hearts and lives that are left from the storms of life that this world hurls at us.

As He gently puts His beach towel around us, He tenderly kisses away the hurt and the pain from our hearts. He puts the pieces of our broken hearts and broken lives back together once again. He restores His peace, joy and happiness to our hearts and sets our feet once again on the mountain tops of happiness, excitement and joy.

As I am typing this devotion, I am listening to All Quartets Radio and they are playing one of my very favorite songs by Ira Stanphill. It is called “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” The words in this song are beautiful and so true. “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand; But I know Who holds tomorrow, And I know Who holds my hand.” I am so thankful that God is not only faithful to hold all of our tomorrows; but also to hold our hands. No, often we don’t understand why things happen, but the one thing that we can be sure of is that we do know that God holds all of our tomorrows.

Today, if you are weary and discouraged and brokenhearted from the storms of life, allow God to cover you with His beach towel. He will wipe away the tears from your eyes and heart with His tender kisses of compassion and understanding. You will feel warm and protected as He softly whispers in your ear “I love you and I will never leave you.” Thank You, dear Heavenly Father, for Your beach towel of unconditional love and protection. Amen.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

Our Light Switch

Monday, March 17th, 2008

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
John 8: 12 King James Version

Many times we wander in the darkness of despair and depression and we do not need to do so. Jesus is not only the light of the world; He is the light of our hearts. If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour, then we have His light in our hearts. Yet we don’t always allow His light to shine in our hearts. Sometimes we have overwhelming burdens and heartaches and we allow His light to dim and go out in our hearts.

Instead of immediately going to Him and asking Him for help when we are hurting, we sometimes forget that He has been faithful to get us through other situations victoriously. There is absolutely nothing too hard for Jesus. There is no crisis, no problem and no burden that He can’t bring us through if we will only trust Him and not doubt Him. We may tell others that He will bring us through the difficult situations, but in our hearts, we have doubts. How that must hurt Him when we doubt Him.

When the sun goes down outside and our homes get dark, instead of walking in the dark we turn on the light switch so we can see what we are doing. It should be the same thing with Jesus. When the darkness beings to filter into our hearts, we should allow Jesus to shine His light once again in our hearts. He hasn’t left us. His light is still in our hearts but we have allowed heartaches and problems to extinguish it.

There are times when it is our fault that we have the darkness in our hearts. Jesus said "he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness". Sometimes we follow the ways of the world instead of following Jesus. There is only one way to have the light in our hearts remain bright and shining and that is to keep our eyes on Jesus and follow Him. We must stay on the path that He has given us to follow. His path will always lead us to joy and happiness.

Have you allowed the light of Jesus to go out in your heart because you have stopped following Him? If you will keep your eyes on Jesus instead of on your circumstances, the light in your heart will remain bright. Don’t look to your family or your friends for the light because they don’t have it.

Only Jesus can illuminate your heart with joy, peace, happiness and excitement. Today, if your heart is heavy with burdens and you are walking in the darkness of discouragement and despair, go to Jesus and tell Him that you are hurting. Allow Him to shine His light of encouragement and peace in your heart.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.

Have We Changed?

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
"Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!" (Matt. 21:9)

What a glorious entrance it must have been for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem, with the people crowding around Him, throwing their cloaks on the ground and hailing Him as royalty! But Jesus knew their hearts—and He knew that within a matter of days, many in that same crowd would be crying for His blood.

Have we changed? Not much, really. For the most part, we are a fickle, frail, finite bunch, whose emotions ride the roller coaster of circumstances and personal agendas. Jesus, though one minute hailed as conquering King, is deposed from the throne of their heart the moment He fails to fulfill the people’s agendas or remedy their circumstances.

The most important thing to see here is not so much the fickleness of Christ’s followers as the faithfulness of His final days. Jesus was focused; He knew why He had come and He never deviated from His message or His mission. He was fully aware that His days here on earth were numbered and that they would end in unimaginable pain and agony. But that didn’t stop Him. He continued to confront sin and call sinners to repentance and forgiveness, even as He prepared to offer the Sacrifice that would enable that forgiveness to flow.

How different are we? A current movie titled "The Bucket List" paints a clear picture of the "it’s all about me" human heart that selfishly proclaims, "If I have a limited time here on earth, then I will spend it all on me!" That is the exact opposite of what our dear Savior did, as He willingly spent every last moment and shed every last drop of blood to open the door to heaven for us.

As we prepare to enter the "holy week" celebration preceding that great Resurrection Day, may God by His Spirit instill in us that same selfless drive to spend our last moments on this earth—however many there may be—in service to God and others. For that greatest welcome of all time awaits us just around the corner: "Well done, good and faithful servant." And perhaps we will even hear that great cloud of witnesses crying out as we enter, "Blessed is he/she who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers, July 2008) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com