Archive for August, 2008

What Has God Bestowed on You?

Friday, August 29th, 2008

The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance (Psalm 16:6).

My 87-year-old mother lives with me, and I have to give her credit today for this devotional. She was doing her own Bible study yesterday morning and shared with me that it was based on the above verse from the Psalms and how that verse was taking her back in her memory to various points in her life. Because her mother died when she was eight and her father was unable to care for her, she was sent to live with her grandparents. At the time—and for many years thereafter—she thought she was one of the most misfortunate people on the face of the earth. All she could think of was all she had lost and how she didn’t have a “real family” like most of her friends did.

Now, however, looking back over the nearly eight decades since her mother died, she sees the faithfulness of God and His blessings and care throughout all those years. She said she realizes now that she had so much to be thankful for, but she often missed it because she was too busy counting and mourning her losses.

Isn’t that just like us? Don’t we all often do the same thing? Instead of focusing on the many blessings God has given us, we bemoan the things we have lost or missed in life. And yet, doesn’t the Word of God say that “the [boundary] lines have fallen” to us in “pleasant places” and that we have a “good inheritance”? Despite the realities of heartache and hardship, trials and tribulations, God calls us “joint heirs” with Christ. Can there be any greater inheritance, any more joyful reason to be grateful?

Whatever we are facing today, may we open our eyes (and hearts!) to the “pleasant places” and “good inheritance” God has bestowed upon us, and CHOOSE to be grateful people for the many undeserved blessings that have come our way as His beloved children. And one day, when we approach the end of our earthly sojourn, may we too declare that the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places!

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

Prosperity in God’s Eyes

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Society today classes people according to their material wealth. Whether that wealth is in the form of money/income, things such as the latest technology gadgets or the hottest fashions in clothes, people are automatically classed into several categories.

Where I live, in Canada, I am considered as living BELOW the poverty line. That means, that according to Canadian standards, I don’t make enough money to meet my natural needs.
I am supported by what is called a Disability Pension. I am unable to work because of my many medical conditions. The Ontario government provides people with severe medical issues a monthly income which is supported by the tax-payers on Ontario, including me. Some of the taxes we pay goes toward providing an income for those unable to support themselves financially.

I get roughly $1000 each month in Canadian funds. My rent is currently $465 per month. I get a $40 grocery card each week to buy my food with, and I get about $30 cash each week to pay for my laundry and other expenses. to many who live in Canada, this is not a lot of money and they often “feel sorry” for me. While I sometimes have a difficult time making ends meet, I have a different way of looking at things.

I have taught this to people for the past 14 years of my life. When they hear my theory, they think
twice about saying they are poor and they have nothing.

My theory goes: If you have a roof over your head, whether it is a tent, a mansion, a trailer or an apartment, you are protected from many or most of the elements of nature such as wind, rain, cold and heat.

If you have clothes to wear, whether it is one outfit, 3 outfits or a closet full, you are covered and decent. It does not matter if the clothes are new, hand-me-downs, or 2nd hand. So long as you are covered and dress modestly, you have protection.

If you have even one meal a day, you are far better off than many. I used to eat at a mission because I could not afford groceries. BUT, I ate and I ate well. It perhaps was not the greatest tasting food, but it was food.

Finally, if you have family or friends that are closer than your natural birth family, you are rich in love. Nobody can survive without love. Many may think they can make it on their own, but truthfully, nobody can make it alone.

To sum it up, if you have a roof over your head, clothes to wear, food to eat and people who love you, then consider yourself much richer than many.

When I explain this theory to friends, family and even strangers, they say, “you are right.” Anything over and above these life needs, is a gift, a blessing and wealth.

For myself, I have two computers, a piano, plenty of music books, a stereo, iPods, a phone and so on. My apartment, however small, is full. I clean out monthly what I do not need and give it to a local charity or, if it is no longer any good, I toss it in the garbage. What I would not use myself, I would not give to someone else.

Wealth is far more than money and things. My nephew and niece have things that I didn’t have until I moved out on my own at the age of 24. They have the latest PlayStations, TV’s in their rooms, DVD players, drums, guitars, pianos, keyboards and so on. I shake my head when I think of the THINGS we have today. And yet we are never satisfied. We are always wanting more.

In Ecclesiastes, we are told that those who love money will never be satisfied (5:10). Hebrews 13:5 reminds us to be satisfied with what we have, stay away from the love of money and we are reminded that God will NEVER leave us nor forsake us. Money will come and go, but God’s love will last forever. Again in Mark 8:36 we are asked what we would gain if we owned the whole world but lost our soul. What is more important – to be rich with money or to be rich in the love of God? To have THINGS, or to have our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Often I have said, I’d rather be poor as I am than wealthy and lose sight of God’s love.

If you have needs that are yet unmet, there is no need to worry. God knows your needs before you are ever aware of them. Jesus told us this in Matthew 6:32-33. God knows our needs and in His right time, He will meet them. You may not get the answer you are looking for when YOU are looking for it, but it will always come in God’s RIGHT time. Philippians 4:19 says that “this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches.”

One of my my favourite Scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

I live by this Scripture. I trust God for everything, and when I least expect it and am not looking for it, some need is met. I was in a grocery store two weeks ago putting my groceries in bags when a lady came up to me and handed me a $5 bill. Not 10 minutes later a man asked me if I had money to spare. I gave him half of what had been given to me. I needed only $2 to do my laundry up. God met two needs that day through one kind and generous lady.

I have never went without. Yes, I have had to ask for help from various charities, churches and friends/family. But it takes a humble heart to be willing to say, “I need help,” and ask for it. Those who cannot ask for help are too proud to admit they are having problems. This shows a reliance on self instead of on God.

The beggars in Jesus time had plenty of courage. Many times they did not get the money, but they were blessed by the Word of God which set them free to rejoice in what they had.

In Philippians 4:6 we are encouraged: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

In Matthew 6:31-33, a popular passage, Jesus teaches us, “So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”

Notice that this is a promise with a condition. IF you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern/focus, THEN God will give you all that you need. And notice He says He will give you what you NEED, not what you WANT. Some preachers preach that if you want a fast and hot car, to claim it and it will be yours. I disagree. That goes against the Scripture of you cannot serve both God and money. What is more important to you – your walk with God, or things?

If you have a need, take it to the Lord in prayer. And when you pray, first offer praises and thanksgiving for who God is, for His faithfulness, and for His love. Make praising God the first part of your prayer. Then, when you pray, try and follow these simple steps I have found on various websites:
ACTS
A – adoration – praise God first and foremost in your prayer time
C – confession – confess your sins to God and ask for forgiveness and a pure heart
T – thanksgiving – thank God for all He has done for you and for those you love
S – supplication – after all the above, then submit your requests to God, with thankfulness that He will answer your prayer.

And when you pray for people, follow these steps:
It is called the 5-Fingered Prayer

When you fold your hands for prayer, your thumb is closest to you. Therefore, pray for those who are closest to you. This could be family, your closest friends, co-workers, and so on.
The Pointer Finger is next. This reminds us to prayer for those who are teachers, pastors and others who instruct and teach us. Anybody who teaches us something, including doctors, teachers, pastors and others are included here.

The middle finger is often the tallest finger. This reminds us to pray for the leaders of our nations, the leaders of our churches and any leaders that God may bring to your remeberances.
Believe it or not, your ring finger is your weakest finger. When praying, use this finger to pray for those who are in need. This could include the sick, elderly, poor, widowed, orphans and so on.
Lastly we have our Pinky finger. It is the smallest of our fingers. This is the time to pray for ourselves. We should always pray for our own needs, ONLY AFTER we have prayed for the needs of others.

At the end of your prayer time, be sure to offer praise once again for God’s mercies, for they are new every morning. He knows our hearts, our desires, our needs, our fears…what He wants is for us to let Him know that WE realize WE NEED HIM. When we realize that we need Him, this is when He begins to work. If we do not confess our need for Him, how can He ever bless us?

Never worry about money, food, clothing, shelter…remember, the Son of God had no home, no pillow, no daily income and so on, and yet He survived without fear because He knew His Father would look after Him.

Prosperity can be defined in many ways. Sadly, society tends to lean toward money, clothing, THINGS and jobs. These matter little, if at all, in God’s eyes. You are rich if you love God and He loves you in return. You are rich if you have some form of shelter, some clothes to wear, some food to eat and friends or family that love you. Anything over and above these are blessings from the Father of Love.

Don’t go looking for wealth on Earth, but store up for yourself treasures in Heaven. This is true prosperity.

God bless,
Sheri Liegh Adams
In His Service,
Jesus is my Rock, Music is my Sanity,

Copyright 2008 by Sheri Leigh Adams. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

An Abundant Life

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 King James Version

Did you know that Jesus wants us to live an abundant life? However, there are times when He can’t bless us with good things because of the condition of our hearts. If we harbor unforgiveness, criticism, sarcasm and all other things which stink in the nostrils of Jesus in our hearts, we will live a life that is filled with discouragement and sadness. I submit to you on the authority of the Word of God that the only way to live a happy and abundant life is to have our hearts in right standing with God.

Are you living an abundant life that is full of joy, peace, happiness and excitement? If not, allow Jesus to search your heart and remove anything that might hurt Him and displease Him. It is only by allowing our precious Saviour to remove all of the bitterness, resentment, jealousy, criticism, sarcasm and unforgiveness from our hearts that we will be able to serve Him effectively, the way He wants us to serve Him.

Since God gave me the ministries of encouraging pastors and writing devotions when Jesus inspires me on January 24, 2005, I have had a joy and an excitement in my heart that I had never felt in my life. Many people ask me if I get discouraged at times. Of course I get discouraged just like you do. I’m not perfect; I am only a sinner saved by the cleansing atoning blood of my precious Saviour. However, even in the midst of the most difficult day there is always a spark of joy and excitement because I know that Jesus loves me, and that He loves me unconditionally.

I don’t know what problems and heartaches you have in your life but I do know that Jesus is more than enough to solve them if you will only trust Him. So many times we pray and ask God for help and then as soon as we say “Amen”, we immediately try to figure out how to solve our problems. I used to sing a song in Sunday School and the words in this song are so meaningful “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there. If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out; Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”

Are you taking your problems and burdens to Jesus and waiting for Him to work in the situation or are you trying to solve them yourself? It hasn’t worked before and it never will work. O you may experience a temporary solution but it won’t last. Only Jesus can give a lasting peace, joy, happiness and excitement. Our precious Saviour wants you to live an abundant life but you must allow Him to take all of the things that hurt Him and bring shame to Him out of your heart. Allow Jesus to weed your heart and remove the weeds of bitterness, resentment, jealousy, sarcasm, criticism and judgment.

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

Which “Beauty” Do You Focus On?

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Proverbs 11:22 NRSV
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without good sense.

I hit the mid-century mark several years ago. And, as with everything else in this world that has more than a few miles on it, my body’s beginning to show the wear and tear of living on a gravity planet. Plain and simple, more than anything else, gravity takes its tole. Gravity is why we have wrinkles, why our spines begin to give way (we get shorter as we get older), why body parts begin to sag. And aside from spending thousands and thousands of dollars on plastic surgery (and then that’s still not always the answer), I have to accept the fact that I’m beginning not only to get older but to look older.

Beauty is fleeting.

At least outward beauty is. One of the consequences of living in a sin-ravaged world is that everything made up of atoms (including us) has a life expectancy. Nothing in this current world is permanent. Thank the Lord for the promise of a new heaven and a new earth! Thank the Lord for the promise of new bodies!

But meanwhile, I need to make the most of what I’ve got. This “rented house,” as temporary as it is, is also where I’m living until I “change residences.” And as a woman, as a Christian, I need to decide where my priorities lie.

Because America is so prosperous (yes, even in the middle of this recession/depression), I have a myriad of choices available. I can try to hang onto my “youth” (meaning, try to continue to look gorgeous and young and sexy), or I can realize that such a pursuit is a losing proposition and trade it in for becoming more godly and honoring to Christ. Personally, the latter seems more possible since I just don’t see my future being a Joan Rivers imitation (plastic surgery after plastic surgery).

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of female role models in my life: mom, aunts, grandmothers. All aged and all chose to age gracefully, wrinkles, and gray hair and all! And while a few dollars of Miss Clairol might (temporarily) cover the gray, at some point no amount of Maybelline is going to conceal the wrinkles . . . or the age freckles . . . or the sags.

Who cares?

Life is much more than simply about what I look like. There’s so much to do and see and enjoy! So many people into whom I can invest my resources (rather than myself). If I throw out my mirrors (or at least only use them briefly to make sure my head’s on straight!) and focus instead upon the joy of seeing another young child fed or another family led to the Lord, I think that I’ll be better off. That, I think, is the “good sense” of which Proverbs speaks. After all, in the long run – eternity – which is more important? That I continued to look like at twenty-year-old long after I hit my forties (or fifties) or that I used my resources (time, money) to help spread the gospel? That I focused on myself and my own “beauty,” or that I ministered to those around me and helped them see the beauty inside of themselves?

Copyright 2008 by Robin L. O’Hare. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission. Permission to reproduce will be given by author by contacting servinggodalone @ yahoo.com. All copies must be reproduced in their entirety and distributed without cost.

An Hourly Checkup

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Hebrews 12:15 King James Version

People go to doctors for an annual checkup every year. When it comes to the spiritual condition of our hearts, it is urgent and mandatory that we have an hourly checkup. We need the great Physician, our precious Saviour, to examine our hearts hourly, sometimes more often. There are times when we allow bitterness, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness, criticism and sarcasm to build up in our hearts.

Only Jesus can remove these negative and crippling things from our hearts. We must allow Him to operate on our hearts and apply His precious blood to our hearts so that we won’t bring disgrace and shame to Him by the way we live our lives and by the words that come out of our mouths. Unless we have an hourly checkup by our Physician so that He can remove the things that hurt Him, we will not be able to serve Him effectively.

The world is watching those of us who claim to be Christians to see if there is a difference in the way we live. When people look at you, do they see a smile on your face or do they see a frown? It is impossible to smile all of the time but if we have Jesus living in our hearts, we have something to smile about. Have you allowed bitterness to remain in your heart? If so, go to the great Physician and allow Him to operate on your heart.

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

Stay on the Bus!

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

And let us not grow weary while doing good,
for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:9).

Years ago I heard a story about a little boy whose mother put him on the bus for school. Before the bus doors closed and the mother could walk away, the little boy turned around and got back off.
“What are you doing?” the mother asked. “You need to go to school.”

“I know,” he answered. “But I want to stay home today. School is hard, and sometimes it’s boring. And besides, it takes too long.”

The wise mother knelt down and looked him in the eyes. “Son,” she said, “you just described life. Now get back on the bus.”

Lately I have noticed that many of us (myself included!) have had some very long, extremely hard, and sometimes boring days at “school,” and we’ve been tempted to get off the bus and just go back home. It seems no matter how hard we try or how much effort or time we expend, no one appreciates it and we just don’t see much in the way of a return on our investment.

But God sees what we do. He knows our heart, and He knows that we are often weary and on the edge of discouragement. But He has given us a great promise in Galatians 6:9 that if we will not grow weary while doing good and fulfilling His purpose and call for our lives, then “in due season” we will reap the reward for our efforts. We will see that lost one come to Jesus. We will receive the necessary provision or the long-awaited healing. We will experience that restored relationship. We may even be recognized for the long hours we put into working for the Kingdom.

Or not. And that’s the key?that we hold tight to God’s promise and His faithfulness, even if we don’t see the rewards in this lifetime. If we know that we know that we KNOW that we are following hard after Him, pursuing the goal He has set for us, then we don’t need to lose heart, regardless of the results (or lack thereof). We don’t know the “due season” in which we shall reap what we have sown in His name, but we can trust Him to bring it to pass in the fullness of His time. And when He does, the joy will more than compensate any tears we may have shed along the way.

So stay on the bus, beloved! Life is sometimes hard, sometimes boring, and sometimes seems to take forever. But we serve a mighty God?and we serve Him shoulder to shoulder, together. It is an honor to sit next to you on the bus.

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

A Heart Filled with Unforgiveness

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother?s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 King James Version

Have you ever noticed that it is a lot easier to criticize and judge and point the finger at someone else than it is to criticize and judge and point the finger at ourselves? I believe as Jesus said “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” that He was very upset with them.

I believe that today He is very upset with us when we criticize people but our own hearts are filled with unforgiveness for others. How dare we criticize and judge people when we have unforgiveness in our own hearts? I just pointed my finger at my computer while typing this devotion. As I did, three fingers were pointing back to me. We are at times a very arrogant people.

We think that we are better than other people. We need to remember that all of us are just sinners saved by grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, let any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8, 9). Without the precious atoning blood of Jesus applied to our hearts, all of us are nothing but filthy sinners. “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 53: 3).

This is a very difficult devotion to write because God has told me to share something very personal with you. I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t want to share it. However, after all that God has done for me, I will do anything that He asks me to do. I share this because I love Him with all of my heart and because I always want to be obedient and do what He tells me to do. On Thanksgiving Day in 1979, I was raped. It was dark and I never saw the man’s face. As a result of that rape, I became pregnant.

I had the most beautiful baby ever born. I named her April Dawn. I was working two jobs but still wasn’t making enough money to take care of her. I came home from work one day and realized that she had worn dish towels as diapers for a week because I didn’t have the money to buy her diapers. I realized that there was more to being her mother than just loving her; I needed to take care of her.

I went to my pastor and shared my heart with him. I told him that as much as it was hurting me, I was thinking of placing my daughter for adoption. I will never forget what he told me. He said “Joanne, neither I nor anyone else has the right to tell you what you should or should not do regarding adoption; that is between you and God. I will tell you this; if you do decide to place her for adoption you will find out who your real friends are.” He was so right!

I made the hardest and the most heartbreaking decision of my life and decided to place my beautiful precious daughter for adoption so that she would have the things that she needed; things that I could not buy for her. Every one of the people who claimed to be my friends stopped talking to me. The couple that I was staying with at the time told me to get out of their house, and to get out right that minute. They said that they never wanted to see me again.

My heart was already broken and I was hurting like I had never hurt in my life. When they made me leave their home, it was like someone had taken a knife and cut my heart into little pieces. As I was walking out their front door, the lady said “I will never forgive you for what you did.” How that hurt me! None of the people who criticized and judged me for placing my daughter for adoption had ever offered to buy diapers or food for her, yet they thought that they had a right to judge me and tell me what to do. My pastor was very wise and he was also correct. Only our Heavenly Father has the right to judge us and tell us what to do.

Today, I am twenty eight years old spiritually, but it is also my daughter’s birthday as she was born on the day that I invited Jesus into my heart to be my personal Saviour. I have not seen her since she was five months old and I don’t even know if she is alive or dead. However, the one thing that I do know is that Jesus loves her very much and that He is taking care of her. He promised me that He would take care of her and He does not lie. It is always safe to trust Jesus. What He says; He will do.

As much as that lady hurt me, it hurts Jesus even more to see how we allow unforgiveness for the ones who hurt us to build up in our hearts. There are times when we act very childish. We expect others to forgive us when we hurt them but we aren’t willing to forgive them. May God have mercy on us!

We need to remember that none of us are perfect. There was only one perfect person who ever lived or ever will live and His name is Jesus. It is time that we stop criticizing and judging and pointing the finger at people. A dear pastor friend of mine said in a sermon once when he was preaching about forgiveness, “If you will keep your own heart clean and make sure that your heart is right before God, you won’t have the time to criticize and judge other people.”

Is your heart filled with unforgiveness for people who have hurt you? If so, you need to ask God to forgive you and to please take the hurt away. Ask Him to take the unforgiveness from your heart, and replace it with compassion and unconditional love for others. Then, and only then, will you make the hearts of our Heavenly Father and our precious Saviour happy.

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

Without Him You Can Do Nothing

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him,
bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

As is my usual daily practice, I spent quite a bit of time this morning praying and reading/meditating on the Word, but when I finished and came to my computer to write this devotional, I had to confess to God that I had “nothing”—no word, no thought, no insight to share with all of you.

That’s when I heard God whisper to my heart, “Why are you surprised? Don’t you remember that I told you that without Me you can do nothing?”

We humans are an amazing bunch, aren’t we? Despite the fact that those of us who consider ourselves dedicated disciples are careful to set aside that quality time with God, we still come away thinking we should have “something” to offer. And, of course, because we serve a faithful God who desires to impart more of Himself to us all the time, we truly do come away with something worth sharing with others. But occasionally we need to be reminded that whatever “something” we may have to offer has absolutely nothing to do with us.

Jesus was quite serious when He said that without Him we can do “nothing”—and nothing means nothing. We say we believe that, don’t we? And yet…don’t we really imagine that it means “nothing much”? Surely we can do one or two things on our own…can’t we?

Not according to Jesus. What a clear reminder that anything we initiate on our own is, when it’s all said and done, NOTHING. It is only those efforts we expend and accomplishments we achieve as a result of loving obedience to the Savior that bring about any sort of lasting results. If the desire of our hearts is to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” at the end of our earthly lives, then we need to prayerfully consider these words of Jesus (“without Me you can do nothing”) and ask Him to help us comprehend and apply them to our lives today, and always.

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

His Joy Becomes Our Strength

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Then he said unto them, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 King James Version

Have you ever made this statement to someone when the person was grieving and broken hearted over the loss of someone “I thought Christians were always supposed to be happy when someone died because they knew they would see the person again in Heaven. You tell everyone that you are a Christian so why are you crying?”

I have to be honest and admit that I also have made this thoughtless, unkind and judgmental remark before Jesus filled my heart with compassion for others. May God forgive us for our insensitivity and may we open the door to our hearts wider and allow Him to fill our hearts with more compassion for people. We need to remember that it could be us who have lost a loved one. It doesn’t matter if the loss is due to death, divorce, separation, or any other kind of loss. It still hurts.

I’m reminded of a pastor’s wife who shared this experience with us in a woman’s Bible study group “I used to think that a broken leg was no big deal. I couldn’t understand why people got so upset when one of their family members broke their leg. However, one day my husband broke his leg and then I was the one who was upset. I finally understood that a broken leg really is important and it really is a big deal to the one who is upset.”

When we accept Jesus into our hearts as our personal Saviour, then we have help to keep going in the face of adversity and problems. His joy becomes our strength. However, we must always remember that it is His joy, not our joy that gets us through the hard times. It is our precious Saviour’s joy that becomes our strength when we are brokenhearted and want to go to bed and never get up again. We could never generate that kind of joy even though we try very hard to be joyful at times when we are hurting. The world is filled with too much violence and horror for us to always be joyful. It is our precious Saviour who lives in our hearts that gives us the strength to keep going even when we are brokenhearted and grieving.

I believe that when Jesus hung on that cross of horror and agony that He felt a mixture of feelings. He knew that His Father loved Him but He also knew that everyone else hated Him. I am sure that even though He was comforted because He knew that His Father loved Him very much; His heart was also broken because everyone else had rejected Him and mocked Him.

Even His own Father had to turn away from Him because Jesus had taken our sins on Him. Our Heavenly Father is a Holy God and He can’t look on sin so He had to turn away from His beloved Son. I believe that on that dark and horrible day when our Saviour was crucified that our dear Heavenly Father’s heart was broken into millions of little pieces. I am sure that He cried because as much as He loves His Son, He couldn’t do anything to help His beloved Son.

In two days, I will be twenty eight years old spiritually. It is a day of great rejoicing for me. However, it is also a day of tremendous pain for me because something very painful happened to me on the same day. The memory of that painful event is just as fresh today as it was twenty eight years ago. Without the knowledge that Jesus loves me, I could not get through the day. I would go to bed and stay there.

However, if Jesus loves me enough to hang on a cross of shame and reproach and die for me, I need to die to self and love Him enough to keep going. If you are hurting and brokenhearted, stop trying to be joyful because you will fail every time. Allow Jesus to be your strength and comfort. He loves you very much and He cares when you are hurting.

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

What’s in Your Garden?

Friday, August 15th, 2008

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 King James Version

My parents had a vegetable garden many years ago when I was a teenager living in Texas. They planted tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, and other things that I can’t remember in the garden. It seemed like they were always watering the garden. Nothing tasted as good to me as the tomatoes that I picked out of their garden. I would wash them under cold water and they were delicious. I have never tasted any tomatoes as good as the ones that I picked out of my parent’s garden.

We have another garden and it is the garden of the fruits of the Spirit. It has been planted in our hearts by our precious Saviour. He planted this garden of fruits but it is up to us to allow the fruits of His Spirit to grow in our hearts. There are times that we quench the Spirit from working in our hearts. When we do this, we are hurting God and disobeying Him. The Bible tells us “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5: 19).

One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for the word quench is “to put out the light or fire of.” If we are honest with ourselves, all of us will have to admit that there are times when we put out the light of Jesus in our hearts by not loving one another unconditionally as He has commanded us to do. I think that we sometimes forgot that loving one another is a commandment; it is not an option.

We read in the Bible, the love letter from God to us “Therefore if any man be in Christ: he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for the word reconciled is “to restore to friendship or harmony.” Many times we refuse to forgive people who have hurt us and the fruits that Jesus has planted in our hearts start to wither and die. If we have accepted Jesus in our hearts as our personal Saviour, God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. When we refuse to forgive people, not only do we hurt them, we also are disobeying God and hurting Him.

If God doesn’t hold our sins and failures against us, how dare you and I continue to harbor jealousy, hatred, unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness in our hearts! Sometimes we are an arrogant people. We expect God to forgive us but we aren’t willing to forgive the ones who hurt us. Are you allowing the fruits of the Spirit to grow in your heart or are you deliberately quenching the Spirit and living in disobedience to our Heavenly Father?

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