Archive for May, 2008

Lighting the Way

Friday, May 30th, 2008

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:4-5

The Bible talks a lot about light, including the fact that the devil masquerades as an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14) in an attempt to deceive and destroy us. The Scriptures also tell us that when we are born again, God delivers us from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13). Since it is the devil’s kingdom from which we are delivered when we are born again, then it is obvious that the devil abides in darkness, as do his followers. God, however, is the Source of all light, because “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). As believers, we are called to live and walk in that light, allowing it to shine through us everywhere we go.

I’m reminded of the children’s song about letting our light shine and not hiding it under a bushel. But do we understand how to do that? Are we clear on the fact that apart from God’s Spirit living within us, we have no light to shine on anyone?

Part of the meaning of John 1:5 is that God’s light is greater than the darkness, and there is nothing the darkness can do to snuff it out. If we attempted to shine a light based on our own power or goodness, the devil would annihilate it before it could generate a flicker. But when the light shining through us is the light and life of God Himself, the devil is powerless to stop it.

That’s why it’s so vital to stay “plugged in” to our Source, to daily and regularly spend time with the Father, allowing His light within us to grow brighter, even as we fade away in its glow. Any imagined light apart from the one true God is a counterfeit, and we dare not trust it. The more time we spend in the presence of the true light, the more it will be reflected in and through us, regardless of how dark our situation or circumstance may be.

We are called to let our light shine in the darkness, and we are promised that the darkness will not extinguish that light—so long as it is the true light that originates and blazes forth in the power of God’s Spirit. May that Light shine brightly in us today, as we continue our journey homeward, lighting the way for others to follow….

MaciasCopyright 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) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

How Much Faith Do You Have?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

“And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” Luke 17:6 King James Version

There are some areas in my life where my faith is weak. I have prayed many times and asked God to please take away all of the extra pounds that I have. If I didn’t doubt that He would take them away and really trusted Him, the extra pounds would instantly be gone. However, I don’t believe they will be gone so they won’t be gone. Jesus tells us that if we have faith as a grain of mustard seed what seems impossible to us would become possible. May God forgive us for doubting Him.

Sometimes we are in the middle of very difficult situations and it seems there is no way out and our faith grows weak. We become discouraged and we are tempted to give up and stop serving Jesus. I have received several criticizing and judgmental emails in the last two months and as a result of those emails, I was discouraged. Then God in His loving compassion used a pastor friend of mine to encourage me. The pastor reminded me that when satan hurls his vicious fiery and poisonous darts at me that I need to keep on the firing line and keep serving Jesus no matter what.

We read in the Bible “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Proverbs 24: 10). It is only as we stay in the presence of Jesus that we are able to withstand satan. It is not our power that stops satan; it is Jesus working through us that defeats satan time after time. Our precious Saviour won the war against satan on the cross when He shed His precious blood and died for you and for me. However, we will still have battles and satan will still attack us.

It is extremely important that we stay in the presence of Jesus. If we don’t stay in the presence of Jesus, we will give satan an opening to attack us and discourage us and we will become vulnerable to his attacks. It would make satan very happy if he could discourage us so much that we would stop serving Jesus. Let’s determine that we will keep serving Jesus no matter how many trials and heartaches come our way.

How is your faith today? Do you trust God in every area of your life? May God help us to stop doubting Him and to trust Him with every area of our lives. Father, I ask that You would please forgive us for doubting You. Thank You for fighting our battles for us and for always giving us the victory over satan through the precious blood of Jesus. May we, Your children, live our lives in such a way that we would make You happy and bring joy to Your heart. Amen.

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

Child of God… A New Attitude

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God?children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband?s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

I’ve read and reread this verse. My silent response was always, “Yes but, I’ve got a past.” Hey, I ain’t your perfect Christian lady, sitting on the third row of the center pew. In fact, I was a lady who made more than my share of wrong decisions and bad choices, a condemned woman in the eyes of the Pharisees. Why, I could have been stoned 2,000 years ago. Did I mention I’m also a sinner?

The truth of the matter is that until I began to experience abundant grace and understand the “born of God,” I disqualified me. But, Jesus didn’t.

Here’s the truth: Our pasts do not disqualify us. I’ve discovered it doesn’t matter who we were, or what we’ve done. It matters that God wants to give us a hope-filled future.

I’ve also discovered that we really shouldn’t wait until we get that problem fixed, get through that divorce, or get our act together. First, because it is impossible to be perfect. Next, in God’s family it is more than acceptable to come as we are, baggage and all.

When we welcome Jesus as Lord in our lives, we can experience a new beginning?complete with a past that has been wiped clean, a bright future, and a healthy attitude.

Through faith, the Holy Spirit transforms our identities into that of Christ’s. We receive new life from God. God changes us from the inside out. And, over time, we will experience evidence in our lifestyles and attitudes. We will see patience, gentleness, kindness, and love become a natural part of our life, our entire spiritual selves will daily become more like Christ.

Today, I have a new attitude filled with abundant grace, a new identity, and deep gratitude.

I hope you too will accept the precious gift of God.

Until next week,

Jan (a work-in-progress)
Coates
Jan Coates is an author, speaker, consultant, founder of Set Free Today and serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery®.

Million Dollar Rain

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” contends the LORD. “As the rain and snow fall from the clouds yet do not evaporate without watering the earth and yielding a crop, so My Word will not return to me empty. My Word will grow the harvest I desire.” Isaiah 55:8-11 paraphrase

When steady showers fell for two or three days toward the end of May, the old farmers called it the “million-dollar rain.” Their crops were planted and a good soaking was exactly what was needed to cause seed to germinate rapidly and get off to a good start. At harvest, farmers would reap the result of that million-dollar rain.

Ever read a verse or heard a sermon that was exactly what you needed? You may have read the verse a hundred times ? even memorized it ? but suddenly, it jumped off the page and spoke to you in a way that caused your faith to sprout. That was the Holy Spirit growing your faith by sending a million-dollar rain at just the right moment.

Have you ever witnessed to and prayed for someone for a long time, then suddenly, something spoke to his heart and he believed? A million-dollar rain shower just took place in his heart.

His Word is seed, rain, and life. The same Word will offend some and encourage others, but it always will have an effect. It will not return to God without the harvest that He desires and expects.

Seed to Plant:

Have you been painstakingly plowing and planting the Word in the same ?field? for a long time, but all you see is empty furrows? Keep working. He knows when to send the million-dollar rain.

Montgomery
Copyright 2008 by Rebekah Montgomery

Rebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than five books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit http://www.rebekahmontgomery.comRebekah is also the editor of Right to the Heart of Women and a publisher at Jubilant Press .

Refreshment for Your Soul

Monday, May 26th, 2008

My Beloved is like an apple tree … I delight to sit in His shade and His fruit is sweet to my taste! (Song of Solomon 2:3 paraphrase)

While taking a thirsty walk through autumn woodlands, we came across a gnarled apple tree. Cool nights had gilded the edges of its leaves, but hiding beneath them were old-fashioned russet apples. We picked a few, polished their rosy cheeks on our shirttails, and rested under the tree to enjoy a snack. They were slightly tart, but juicy and so refreshing but they hit the spot.

When traveling through a dry time in life, many people turn to popular psychology for answers. Others become hedonistic, sampling pleasure after pleasure. In the end, all is unsatisfying.

King Solomon knew this well. He tried everything, but in his old age dismally concluded that all was vanity and chasing the wind. In his pursuit of pleasure and answers, he lost the simple but satisfying relationship with God.

No matter what season you are in your life, you will find your Beloved — Jesus — has refreshment for your soul. Seek Him out.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Montgomery
© Rebekah Montgomery 2008

Good Intentions are Just Not Enough

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

O wretched man [woman] that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25

I have a confession to make: I’m a hypocrite. Furthermore, I’m a phony, a sham, a fake—and there’s nothing I can do about it.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a book about to be released titled BEYOND ME: LIVING A YOU-FIRST LIFE IN A ME-FIRST WORLD. With all my heart, I believe in the topic/focus of the book—selfless, me-first living, centered in total and complete dependence and reliance on the life of Christ within us—and with all my heart I try to live that sort of life. The problem is that I can’t. In truth, I fail miserably at every turn—and so do you.

Most of us—particularly those who know and love Jesus—desire to live that sort of selfless life, but the harder we try to do so, the more time we spend failing and repenting and failing again. Why is that?

It’s because we’re not repenting of the root sin, that self-centered, self-serving pride that drives us all. The Apostle Paul understood it only too well when he cried out, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Thank God for the next line, which declares, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul recognized his complete inability to be the godly man he so desired to be, but he also recognized that Jesus had fulfilled the righteousness and godliness that God requires of us, and that our beloved Savior extends His righteousness and godliness to us all—if we will but accept it. And that means more than accepting it in order to “purchase” our fire insurance to escape hell when we die. It means depending on His righteousness and godliness for each breath we take while still on this earth.

When I fail, my first reaction is to ask God to forgive the specific act of sin I’ve committed, whether it’s something blatant or scarcely noticeable to anyone else. That’s fine, but so long as I focus on trying to overcome that particular act, I’ll never make it. Good intentions simply aren’t enough. What we need to do on an ongoing basis, each time we fall short of the standard God requires of us, is to ask Him to forgive us for not loving Him enough. That truly is at the root of every other sin, isn’t it? It is only a deep and abiding love for Him that will be strong enough to keep me from disobeying Him and going my own way. And that, of course, is the heart of the “beyond me,” selfless, you-first living that should characterize the life and testimony of everyone who names the precious Name of Jesus Christ as Savior.

May it be so in each of our lives today, beloved, as we seek to love Him more….
Macias
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) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com

It Will Happen

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:31-32 King James Version

I wonder how many times we are on the mountain tops of joy, peace and happiness when all of a sudden our enemy, satan, hurls his poisonous barbs of criticism, sarcasm, and judgment at us and once again we are back down in the valley of doubts and discouragement. We need to be aware of the sneaky tactics of satan because he will do his best to discourage us. It will happen time after time because satan won’t give up.

I receive a lot of emails telling me how wonderful my devotions are and how I am helping people. I am very appreciative of those emails because all of us need encouragement. However, we need to understand that no one is perfect. All of us fail God but the good news is that Jesus is praying for us just as He prayed for Simon. I fail Him just as you fail Him. I am so glad that our precious Saviour is interceding for us.

We read in the Bible “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6: 10 – 13).

The Bible clearly tells us that we can’t stand unless we put on the whole armour of God. We need to put it on before we even get out of bed because it only takes satan one minute to attack us with doubts, lies, deception and discouragement. Have you put on the whole armour of God today? It is never God’s fault if we have a bad day. He has already equipped us with all that we need to stand against the wiles of the devil. It makes satan very happy if he can discourage us so much that we are tempted to stop serving Jesus. Don’t let that happen to you! Put on the whole armour of God as soon as you open your eyes in the morning and before you get out of bed. You will not only lead a more peaceful and joyful life, you will make Jesus happy.

Copyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com

An Attitude of Overcoming…

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Helen Keller once said: “The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it.”

Perspective plays a role in how we view our current physical, emotional, spiritual, and attitudinal situations. Is the sum total a barrier or an opportunity? Like a kaleidoscope, we can tweak the patterns of what we see, what we feel, how we respond via our perspective.For Helen Keller she chose to see the human situation of suffering and seized every opportunity to overcome it. When we stop and think about it, overcoming is a life-long decision. We can either wrap ourselves in a cloak of suffering to insure our self pity and woe is communicated clearly and heard by the masses, seeking sympathy with “Poor me. No one knows the trouble I bear.” Or we can embrace an attitude of gratitude–bravery in Christ—overcoming the suffering.

There are many tough, life-impacting decisions in our lives, but choosing to wallow in the mire of our pain and be satisfied with a life of self pity just doesn’t seem like a healthy life decision. In fact, that’s not why God created us.

First and foremost, God created us to have a personal loving relationship with Him. Hmmm. Based on my personal research, Bible study, and life experiences, this means a two-way relationship, including a:
A relationship with God

* Freely invite God into every aspect of your life.

No sloughing off here, because God wants every part of you in this relationship. Your mind, soul, spirit, body, and heart. Don’t hold back, or you’ll end up back at that pity party, and we don’t want that do we?

John 10:3-5 gives a relationship view for us to strive for:
He calls HIS own sheep by name

* Relationship with name recognition
* His sheep hear His voice and come to Him
* Relationship built on trust

Follow me

* Relationship based on divine exemplary leadership.
* In order to follow without stumbling, imitate the attitudes lived by Jesus’ while He walked on earth, especially the attitude of placing others first.
* Follow His footprints–walk the walk through your words, actions, deeds, prayer, and thoughts.
* Jesus sees good in His children and you should too.
* Jesus is gentle, kind, loving, compassionate, and extends grace to all. Follow your Leader.Relationship of Adoration and Respect
* Praise the Lord.
* Read your Bible.
* Pray for others first and then yourself.
* Listen to Christian praise music and sing the songs to the Lord.
* Thank God for all He is doing in your life.

Like Helen Keller, our many biblical ancestors, and everyday people who know the joy associated with overcoming, let’s follow God’s directives. As our personal relationship with the Lord grows, so will our desire and ability to overcome and live a victorious life.

For now, this should provide nourishing, growth-filled, food to chew on that can help you learn to live in truth and freedom.

Until next week,

Jan (your work-in-progress SFT leader)


Jan Coates is an author, speaker, consultant, founder of Set Free Today and serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery®.

Perenial Sin

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

It comes back again and again, to beckon, to tease, entice. It is that same old temptation that you know so well.

Occasionally, Satan gift-wraps it as something new, but usually, he doesn’t even have to bother. He just presents it and we snap on it, like a stupid trout caught over and over by the same lure and hook.

Paul decried the same dilemma: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Then, in the same breath, he answered his own question: ”I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Recognizing the temptation for the sham that it is marks the first step in overcoming it. But abiding in Him is certainly the giant second step. Freely discuss with Him sin’s glitter and charm. Admit to its attraction and your need for His help to overcome it.

When we come to God in spirit and in truth, He reveals amazing insights into the nature of our temptation and why it holds particular fascination to us. Herein is freedom and victory!

© Rebekah Montgomery 2008

Rebekah Montgomery, author/speaker/teacher, is a gifted, dynamic communicator. She is the author of more than five books and has penned 1,100 articles. She shares tough real-life topics and biblical application in a simple easy to grasp manner. To book Rebekah for your next event visit http://www.rebekahmontgomery.com. Rebekah is also the editor of Right to the Heart of Women and a publisher at Jubilant Press .

Not Just Money

Monday, May 19th, 2008

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 1 John 3:17 King James Version

It is true that we are to give our money to help people who are in need, to people who don’t have food to eat, clothes to wear or a house to live in. However, I think sometimes we forget that there is more to giving than just giving our money. If we see people who are hurting and have tears in their eyes and we don’t give them a hug, we are not giving from our hearts “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”

If we have arms, we can hug people for God. If it makes us uncomfortable to hug people, then we need to ask God to please help us hug people for Him. We need to remember that God hugs us every day of our lives. He hugs us when the sun rises in the sky and when we hear the birds singing. He hugs us when the His Son rises in our hearts. He tenderly puts His arms of understanding and compassion around us and holds us close to His loving heart and hugs us until our tears of grief, loneliness and heartaches go away.

Jesus has given us a commandment. It is not an option; it is a commandment. Many times we forget that it is a commandment or we ignore what He told us or worse we deliberately disobey Him. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13: 34, 35).

I have had three people email me and tell me that these verses are referring to sex. That is a lie straight from the pits of hell. Just because a person has sex with someone does not mean that he or she loves that person. Sometimes a person has sex with someone to keep the other person from leaving him or her. A friend of mine back in Texas told me that her boyfriend said to her several times “If you don’t have sex with me, then you don’t love me and I will leave you”.

The Bible is very clear that the sexual act should only be between a husband and wife. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2: 24, 25).

Society has taken the sexual relationship given by God to express our love and commitment to our husband or wife and has made it into something dirty. It stinks in the nostrils of Jesus and it brings shame to Him. May God forgive us for taking something pure and precious from the heart of God and making it into a filthy and disgusting act of lust.

What Jesus is telling us in these verses is that He wants us to love one another unconditionally just as He loves us unconditionally. Part of loving one another unconditionally is forgiving one another. If we continue to harbor a grudge in our hearts and refuse to forgive people when they hurt us, we would do well to remember the commandment that Jesus gave us when He said that we are to love one another as He loves us. Do you love others unconditionally as Jesus loves you or is your heart filled with unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, resentment and criticism?

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