Archive for April, 2008

The Condition of Our Hearts

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

“Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.”
Psalm 97: 11 King James Version

There are times when due to heavy burdens and crises we wander in the darkness of discouragement and despair. We live like there is no hope and instead of living a victorious life with Jesus in our hearts, we live a defeated life. If we have confessed our sins and asked Jesus to forgive us and cleanse us in His precious atoning blood which He shed for us on the cross and invited Him into our hearts to be our personal Saviour, He is our light and our hope.

When we make a heart commitment to Jesus, not an intellectual or verbal commitment but a heart commitment, we have hope and we have the light of Jesus in our hearts. If we are living in darkness and are sad most of the time, we need to check our hearts and be sure they are in right standing with God. We may be doing and saying things that are displeasing to our Heavenly Father. If we are doing these things, then we dim the light of Jesus in our hearts.

In the last three years, I have received at least fifty emails from people who have told me that they have no hope and no joy. Instead of crying out to Jesus for help, they allowed satan to steal the hope and the joy that Jesus gives us. I asked them if they were spending time with the Living Word. It is not enough to spend time reading our Bibles. We must spend time with the Living Word, our precious Saviour. When we spend time with our Saviour, He encourages us, comforts us, guides us and we have joy and happiness in our hearts.

What condition is your heart in today? If you are living a discouraged and defeated life and feel like you have no hope and you are living in the darkness of sadness, I submit to you on the authority of the Word of God that it is not God’s fault. We read in the Bible “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6: 11).

He has told us what we need to do to live a victorious life and out of His heart of unconditional love and compassion for us, He sent His own beloved and dear Son into the world so that we can live a victorious life. Stop living like you have no hope and start living the victorious life that Jesus made possible when He was crucified for you on the cross and shed His precious blood so that you can be saved and have joy in your heart.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Get Off the Fence

Monday, April 28th, 2008

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3: 15, 16 King James Version

Someone made this comment to me the other day “It is either too cold or too hot.” It reminded me of our Scripture for this devotion. There are so many people who are straddling the fence when it comes to deciding to serve Jesus and to make the right decisions. Jesus says that He wants us to be either cold or hot and not lukewarm.

I believe if we will listen with our hearts we will hear Him say to us “Get off the fence. Make up your mind if you are going to live for Me or if you are going to live for satan. If you are going to live for Me, then you need to do what I tell you to do, not what you want to do.”

The story of the ruler is a perfect illustration “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich” (Luke 18: 22, 23).

Jesus died for us so that we may have our sins forgiven and cleansed by His precious blood which He shed for us on the cruel cross of Calvary. He has done so much for us and He asks so little of us in return. Yet many times we are not willing to do what He asks us to do.

It may be that He asks us to do something that will take us out of our comfort zone and we are not willing to leave our comfort zone. We need to remember that Jesus left His comfort zone in Heaven with His Father to come to earth to be beaten, abused, mutilated, spat upon, cursed, mocked, rejected, and crucified on a cross of horror and torture. When He speaks to our hearts and tells us to do something for Him, we should do it immediately and stop straddling the fence of indecision.

We read in the Bible “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him” (Matthew 4: 18 ? 22).

Jesus is still calling us today to be fishers of men. Why is it that we will get up very early in the morning to go fishing and stay in the boat all day patiently waiting for a fish to take the bait but we won?t answer the call of Jesus to be fishers of men? I believe it all comes down to how much we love Him. It is so true that our level of service to Jesus depends on our level of love for Him.

If we love Him enough, we will shut off the television, or better still not even turn it on, and send emails and make telephone calls to people who are hurting. Again, how much do you love Him and how much are you willing to do for Him? Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and follow Him and become a fisher of men on a full time basis and not just when it is convenient to you?

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org

Is It Tolerance or Denying the Truth?

Friday, April 25th, 2008

And Jesus answered and said to them:
“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name,
saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4-5).

It seems that lately I’ve been running into people of various faiths and religions who claim they believe in Jesus. After a few moments of talking with them, however, it’s obvious that they aren’t talking about the same Jesus I know and love and serve.

Though Jesus in Matthew 24 was speaking specifically to the Jewish people, His warning to “take heed” that we not be deceived by Christ impersonators carries over to all cultures and eras, particularly today when “tolerance” of nearly anything and everything has become the most esteemed virtue, and absolute truth a disdained and rejected concept.

Whether a writer or speaker, a pastor or Sunday school teacher, a truck driver or bookkeeper, if we have been born again and know the true Jesus through relationship with His Holy Spirit who lives within us, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation?devoting our lives to proclaiming the Gospel and leading people back into relationship with God, as well as restored relationships with others. But we must beware of seeking unity of earthly relationships at any cost. Human effort and a false Jesus can never accomplish true or lasting unity.

In the name of tolerance we are asked to accept and even celebrate lifestyles, beliefs, and false religions that the Scriptures condemn. Many who promote this dangerous thinking also claim to believe in Jesus. But to what Jesus are they referring? Do they believe He is the one and only Son of God, the one and only way to the Father, the One who died on the cross for all their sins? Or do they believe He was simply a good man or a prophet or maybe even an angel? This is a crucial test, for belief in the wrong Jesus diminishes the work He did on the cross?and puts the onus back on us to somehow earn our own salvation.

As we go about the ministry of reconciliation to which all believers have been called, let’s be careful that even as we offer unconditional love to a lost and dying world, we don’t portray a Jesus who is anything less than who He is?truly God and truly Man, come to earth to die for our sins?all of them?once and for all.

In all that we do or say this day, may we proclaim that great truth with boldness and love. For when it comes to that truth, as ultimately it always does, there can be no compromise, not even for the sake of unity or tolerance.

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

God Will Deliver You

Monday, April 21st, 2008

“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”
Psalm 50:15 King James Version

God has promised to deliver us out of trouble. However, there are times when we take the credit for fixing the situation. When we take the credit, what we are saying is that we don’t need God’s help; that we can solve things by ourselves. If we could fix things ourselves there would be no reason for God to say “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”

We need to understand that we can’t do anything without the help of God and our precious Saviour. I wonder how many times we have neglected to thank God for helping us and delivering us out of trouble. We may thank Him but do we praise Him for delivering us? Sometimes we pray several times and ask Him for His help, yet when He answers our prayers we only say thank You one time and then forget all about it. May God forgive us for taking Him for granted.

If you are in the middle of a crisis or a difficult situation, realize that you may be able to fix things temporarily but only God can fix it permanently. You must humble yourself, swallow your pride and admit that you are powerless to solve your problems. You need to ask God to please help you out of the difficult situation and crisis.

Ask Him if there is anything that He wants you to do so that the same crisis doesn’t happen over and over. If He tells you what you need to do to fix the situation, do it! Please don’t forget to thank Him and praise Him for His help. Are you thanking God for delivering you out of trouble and are you praising Him?

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission.

It’s All About Grace

Friday, April 18th, 2008

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10).

The older I get, the more I am amazed by grace. I am also amazed at how easily we begin to cheapen and take that grace for granted when we fail to spend time with the Father, communing with Him and drawing closer to His great heart. For the more I know of Him, the more I recognize my unworthiness to be in His presence or to hear Him call me “daughter” and the more I recognize my need for grace.

And that, of course, is what God requires of us?relationship with Him. If we claim to have relationship with Him but fail to spend time in His presence?well, maybe it’s time for a heart check to see if we really are born again. Do our hearts yearn to be in His presence? Do we miss Him when we?re away? Do we long to please Him and do His will, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” not because we’ve done anything so wonderful but because He has allowed us to partner with Him and serve in His name?

As a believer of more than three decades, I tend to find my greatest temptation is to rationalize neglecting time spent WITH God by instead trying to do things FOR God. Busyness. It’s a curse, isn’t it? And I’m not just talking about the necessary things we do each day in relation to family or jobs, but rather, things like going to church or Sunday school or Bible study; witnessing to others; organizing or serving at church functions. Sure, those are good things, and I should hope that as born-again believers, we are involved in those necessary works. But why are we doing them? Because we’ve somehow slipped into the cult mentality that it can help us earn our way into heaven or because we are so grateful to Jesus for already paying the price for our admission to heaven that we now want nothing more than to love and serve Him?

When asked to identify the greatest commandments, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Out of love, God saved and redeemed us and has promised that if we are born again, we will spend eternity with Him. He has already accomplished everything that needs to be done to assure the fulfillment of that promise. That’s grace. When we make that grace our own through faith in the sacrifice of God’s only Son, then out of love for God and others, we begin to walk in those “good works” that God has prepared for us to do.

It’s all about grace, folks, all about Him and what He has already done for us. Out of love and gratitude, may we walk in the good works He has called us to today,not to earn anything but because He has already given us everything.

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

Our Father is Taking Care of Us!

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

“Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you!” 1 Peter 5:7

If this world were governed by chance—no amount either of philosophy
or of common sense could keep us from worrying; but we know that our
Father is taking care of us! No little child in the best and most
caring home, was ever carried so carefully or so safely in the love
and thought and care of earthly parents—as is the least of God’s
little ones in the heavenly Father’s heart! “So do not worry, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we
wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly
Father knows that you need them!” Matthew 6:31-32. The things we
cannot help or change are in His hand, and belong to the “all things”
which, we are assured, “work together for good, to those who love God.”

In the midst of all the great rush of events and circumstances, in
which we can see no order and no design—we well know that each
believer in Christ, is as safe as any little child in the arms of the
most loving mother!

Amid all life’s trials and disappointments—

our faith rests upon the character and the infinite goodness of God!
We should have the faith of a little child—in a Father whose name is
“Love” and whose power extends to every part of His universe! Here
we find solid rock upon which to stand, and good reason for our lesson
that we should never worry. Our Father is taking care of us!

In a world like ours, there are many things which incline us to worry.
There are disappointments which leave the hands empty after days and
years of hope and toil. There are resistless thwartings of fondly
cherished plans and purposes. There are bereavements which seem to
sweep away every earthly joy. There are perplexities through which no
human wisdom can lead the feet. There are experiences in every
life—whose natural effect is to disquiet the spirit and produce deep
and painful anxiety.

If we are never to worry, what are we to do with these things which
naturally tend to cause us worry? The answer is easy—we are to put all
these disturbing and distracting things—into the hands of our Father!

“Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares about you!” 1 Peter
5:7. God is taking care of you—not overlooking the smallest thing, and
you have but to cast all your cares and anxiety upon Him—and then be
at peace. It is trying to carry our own cares, which produces worry!
Our duty is to cast them all upon Christ! This is the secret of
heart-peace in the time of distress, from whatever cause.

(J. R. Miller, “Don’t Worry!” 1912)

Make Me Brave for Life

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

God, make me brave for life:
oh, braver than this.
Let me straighten after pain,
as a tree straightens after the rain,
Shining and lovely again.

God, make me brave for life;
much braver than this.
As the blown grass lifts, let me rise
From sorrow with quiet eyes,
Knowing Thy way is wise.

God, make me brave, life brings
Such blinding things.
Help me to keep my sight;
Help me to see aright
That out of dark comes light.

— Author Unknown

All Life’s Tangles

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

“And we know that God causes everything to
work together for the good of those who love
God and are called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28

Our affairs are forever getting tangled, like threads
in a child’s hands—and we cannot straighten out
the tangles ourselves! We cannot see how anything
beautiful or good can come out of our poor living, or
our feeble striving.

Our days are full of disappointments, and our
night’s rest is broken by anxieties. Yet it is the
Christian’s privilege to commit all life’s tangles
into the hands of Jesus Christ. He can take our
broken things—and build them up into beauty.

One of the finest windows in a great cathedral is
said to have been made out of the fragments of
broken glass which the workmen had thrown away
as worthless. A skillful hand gathered them up—
and wrought them into lovely form.

Just so, Jesus Christ can take . . .
our failures,
our mistakes,
our follies,
our broken fragments of life,
even our sins, and
make them into beautiful life and character!

“Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in
Him; and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

— J. R. Miller, “Morning Thoughts” 1906

Take Me Beyond Myself

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Jeremiah 33:3
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things,
which you do not know.”

Jeremiah 33:3 is a word from God that was spoken to the prophet while he was in prison, proving a point that God has been whispering to my heart for some time now: “I can, AND DO, speak to you anytime, anywhere. Are you listening?”

The Father wants to commune with us more than we do with Him. Time, place, and circumstance have nothing to do with it. Does anyone else find that utterly amazing? God wants to talk to ME! And yet I?finite, fallible, feet-of-clay human that I am?am often far too busy (and self-important) to take the time to respond. Wow. That?s taking vanity to the next level, isn’t it?

We are all self-absorbed; that’s human nature. But for those of us who have been born again and have the divine nature residing within us, there’s no excuse for neglecting time in communion with God. Oh, we have plenty of reasons: work, travel, family, friends, volunteering for worthy causes; but reasons aren’t excuses. God told (not asked!) Jeremiah to call out to Him, promising that if he would, the very Creator and Lord of the universe would show him “great and mighty things,” things which Jeremiah would otherwise not know.

Are we content with the things we can know in our own strength and abilities? I’m not. I want to see and know more. I want to see things from God’s vantage point and proclaim them to others with His power and authority. Therefore, I have one option: Call out to God to take me beyond myself, from the temporal to the eternal, from the vain emptiness of self to the unlimited potential of the divine. And how does that happen? God has provided a simple and foolproof way. First, call to Him (pray and ask Him to show you what He wants you to know and understand today), and then begin to read and study the Bible, believing that He will answer you, simply because He said He would, and God does not lie.

Someone recently asked me, “Aren’t you concerned that some Thursday you’ll sit down to write your weekly devotional and you won’t have anything to say?” If I had to depend on myself and my own limited resources for the words and the message, absolutely! But thankfully I don’t have to do that. God says that if we call on Him, He will take us beyond ourselves and show us what He wants us to know. I believe Him. Do you?

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

The Son is Always Shining

Friday, April 11th, 2008

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotton of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:1-5 King James Version

The sun may not rise in the morning if it is a cloudy or a stormy day outside. However, no matter how cloudy or stormy it is outside, the Son of God is always shining in our hearts if we have accepted Him as our personal Saviour. There are times when we are faced with difficult situations and crises that we don’t allow Him to shine through us.

Some of the words in the song “This Little Light of Mine” tell us not to hide His light under a bushel. “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.” Sometimes we dim the light of Jesus in our hearts by putting bushels of worry and fears over it. No matter what happens; no matter how many people try to discourage us, we can never fully extinguish the light of Jesus in our hearts.

Is the Son of God shining in your heart today or have you allowed the cares of this world to dim His light? Give all of your burdens, problems, heartaches, fears and worries to Jesus. He will carry your burdens for you and bring you through every situation victoriously. There is nothing too hard for Jesus.

Trust Him without doubting. He will be faithful to hold your hand and walk with you through the storms of life. He will not only walk beside you as a faithful companion; He will also walk before you to guide you and He will walk behind you to protect you from the poisonous arrows of satan and the world. There is no one like Jesus! Thank You, Jesus, for shining Your light in our hearts and for never leaving us even when we leave you at times. Amen.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.