Archive for August, 2008

Don’t Comfort. Confront.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up,
and the train of His robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1).

The turning point in the prophet Isaiah’s life was his vision of God, seated on His throne, wrapped in holiness and righteousness, and being praised and adored by surrounding angels. Isaiah’s response to this breathtaking and awe-inspiring vision was to recognize his own filthiness and sin, and to cry out in despair over his absolute inability to stand in the presence of such a sovereign and holy God.

The Lord, of course, in His great mercy and unconditional love, allowed an angel to purge Isaiah’s sin by touching the prophet’s lips with a live coal. After that, Isaiah was ready to go forth and proclaim God’s message to those who so desperately needed to hear it.

Unlike the angel who touched Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal, in an effort to remain non-judgmental, we often get caught up in an “I’m okay, you’re okay” mindset, comforting rather than confronting the sinner. When Isaiah decried his brokenness and sin, the angel didn’t go to him and pat him on the back and say, “There, there; it’s all right. Your problems aren’t your fault. We know you’re really a nice person.” But isn’t that what we do sometimes? And don’t we really want others to do that for us when we’ve blown it and need to repent?

Sadly, we do people the greatest disservice of all time by enabling them to remain in their sin and misery, rather than calling them to repentance and presenting them with the truth and the joy of the gospel. Sinners do not need to hear that it’s okay to remain in their sin. They do not need enablement and commiseration; they need unconditional love that includes the need to repent and turn FROM their sin and TO the Savior. Telling people what the Bible says about sin and the need for repentance and restoration to God is not being judgmental—it is showing love in action.

The best starting place to make that happen in the lives of those who need to be born again is to pray that God will reveal Himself to them—in love and compassion, yes, but also in holiness and righteousness. Like Isaiah, we all need to become aware of the holiness of God so we can see ourselves as we truly are—hopelessly lost in sin and completely dependent upon His mercy. It is at that point that our sin can be purged and we can begin to be used to proclaim God’s love to others.

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

Let Him Pilot Your Life

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Matthew 14:25-32 King James Version

One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for the word pilot is “a person who is qualified and usually licensed to conduct a ship into and out of a port or in specified waters.” Our precious Saviour is the only who is qualified to pilot our lives. He has been given the authority and licensed by our Heavenly Father. Jesus is qualified to pilot our lives because He paid an agonizing price for the right to steer us when He died for us on the cruel cross of Calvary.

I wonder how many times you and I start to walk on the water to go to Jesus, but when the cruel winds of criticism and sarcasm begin to blow our lives and our hearts apart, we become afraid and we start to sink. I think that Peter was a lot more intelligent than we are at times. When Peter started to sink, he cried out to Jesus to save him and Jesus immediately stretched forth His hand and caught him.

So often, we try to save ourselves from the cruel words that are said to us and from the problems and difficult situations in our lives and instead of letting Jesus pilot our lives, we steer our own lives. It is no wonder at all that we sink and don’t have any peace in our lives. If we would ever understand that we don’t have the power to change ourselves and our circumstances, we would have a lot more peace in our lives and in our hearts. If we will listen with our hearts, we will hear Jesus saying to us, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

We read in the Bible, “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9: 23, 24). I believe the prayer of all of our hearts should be, “Lord, increase my faith.” Are you trusting Jesus to pilot your life or are you still trying to pilot your own life? Unless you allow Jesus to be the pilot of your life and heart, you will sink every time.

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

The Master Mechanic

Monday, August 11th, 2008

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory both for ever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19-20 King James Version

The neighbor that lives across the trailer park from me has been having a lot of problems with his car not running right. I saw him underneath the car last week. Apparently, he was unable to fix the problem. For the last three days, I have seen him and three other men standing around the car and looking inside the hood trying to determine what is wrong. It is obvious that he is unable to fix his car so he needs to take it to a mechanic, someone who has the skills and the knowledge needed to fix the car.

The same is true with us. So often, we try to fix what is wrong in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones. We don’t have the skills and the knowledge that we need to fix our problems and the problems of our loved ones so we need to take them to our master mechanic, our precious Saviour. Only Jesus can see into our hearts and see exactly what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. Jesus is the only one who can fix our hearts and our lives and tune them with His tools of unconditional love, compassion, understanding, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

If only we would stop trying to fix others and ourselves, we would live a lot more peaceful lives. It is not our responsibility or even our right to fix someone, that is His right and responsibility. We need to get out of the way and stop hindering Him for working in heart and in lives. Are you trying to fix yourself and your loved ones? If so, stop it and get out of the way and let our master mechanic, Jesus, fix our hearts and our lives.

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

Singing Praises in Times of Affliction

Friday, August 8th, 2008

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4)

When the Israelites were taken captive, the Scriptures tell us they hung their harps on the willows and asked, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” God’s chosen people had lost their homes, their loved ones, their freedom, and they felt they had no reason or ability to sing praises to God.

Don’t many of us react the same way—and to much lesser problems? When all is going well we break into song and praise God from a heart of joy and gratitude. But let something go wrong and we “hang our harps on the willows” and go around grumbling and bemoaning our fate. Oh, sure, we may fall to our knees in prayer, begging God to deliver us and make everything right again, but is there any room for praise to flow from our broken hearts?

In and of ourselves, it is perfectly natural to praise God in the good times and either ignore, curse, or beseech Him for deliverance in the bad. But if we have been born again and have God’s Spirit living within us, then we are not limited to our natural reactions. We have the ability to call upon God’s Spirit within us to release praise to God—to “sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.” We simply have to make the choice to do so.

Anyone can sing the Lord’s song and offer praise to our mighty God when all is going well, but a true disciple is disciplined to praise God regardless of the situation or the circumstance. As I have come to understand and practice this great spiritual truth, I have found that one of two things happen: the situation improves…or it matters less to me if it doesn’t. Either way, I find my spirit soaring on the notes of the Lord’s song—often so much sweeter when being sung in a foreign land.

If you’re in a foreign land today, beloved (and I know that many of you are!), please reach up and take your harp from the willow branches and CHOOSE to sing the Lord’s song right where you are. I promise you will soon find your heart soaring above your problems and pain….

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

He’s Still Alive

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matthew 28:5- 6 King James Version

No matter what trials, temptations, burdens and heartaches we face in our lives, our precious Saviour is still alive and He is still able to bring us through them victoriously. Sometimes we allow our burdens and heartaches to overwhelm us and we become discouraged and defeated. It is then that we need to take the outstretched hand of Jesus and let Him carry us through the valleys in our lives.

One of my very favorite songs is “God on the Mountain”. Tracy G. Dartt wrote the words and the music. When I hear Lynda Randle sing this song I get so excited I feel like I am literally in Heaven. The words to the chorus are like a soothing ointment to a troubled heart “For the God of the mountain is still God in the valley, When things go wrong, He’ll make them right and the God of the good times is still God in the bad times, The God of the day is still God in the night.”

If you are wandering in the darkness of loneliness, heartaches, despair, discouragement, defeat and pain, remember that the God of the day is still God in the night and He will make everything right if you will only trust Him. Give Him all of your heartaches and burdens and then get out of the way and let Him bring you through them victoriously. Sometimes we hinder Him working in our lives because we try and fix things ourselves. Thank God for our risen Saviour!

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

Spiritual or Physical?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 King James Version

I need to lose weight, a lot of weight, because I am not overweight; I am fat and I am more likely to have a heart attack. I think one of the reasons why I am fat is because there are times when I can’t cook well balanced meals due to my arthritis so I snack on junk food. Of course, that is only an excuse and a sneaky attack from satan to keep me from losing weight.

While I do need to lose a lot of weight physically, I also need to gain a lot of weight spiritually. Jesus doesn’t judge us by how we look; He is concerned with the condition of our hearts. He doesn’t want us to neglect our bodies but He wants us to be more concerned with the condition of our hearts.

The Bible tells us “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16: 7).

Someone told me that when he started a diet, he went on a fast for two days first. Another person said that she was fasting to get a boyfriend. I heard an evangelist on television make this remark “I fasted thirty days and because of that many people were baptized by me.” Two years ago, someone emailed me and said “I am going to fast for a new house and a new car.

I submit to you on the authority of the Word of God that there is only one fast that is acceptable to God. We read in the Bible “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke” (Isaiah 58: 5, 6).

Fasting doesn’t change other people or our circumstances; it changes our hearts. Jesus takes away all of the bitterness, anger, hatred, resentment, jealousy, criticism, sarcasm and unforgiveness that we have allowed satan to put in our hearts. We should fast so Jesus can melt our hardened hearts. He will remove all of the negative things from our hearts that hurt Him and that stinks in His nostrils and will replace them with unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness for people.

We should be more concerned with what Jesus thinks about the condition of our hearts than we are with what people think about our outward appearance. Of course, we should take care of our bodies but if our outward appearance is more important to us than what Jesus thinks about the conditions of our hearts, what we are really saying is that we don’t care what Jesus thinks about the condition of our hearts.

Are you studying the Bible so that you will please God and make Him happy or do you only care about losing weight so that people will like you? If people don’t like you the way that you look now, then you don’t need those kind of people as your friends because they are not true friends.

It is nice to have friends and I have a lot of friends but if every person who claims to be my friend would turn their backs on me and stop being my friend, Jesus would still be my friend. He is my dearest and best friend and I love Him with all of my heart.

There is no friend like Jesus! No one loves us like Jesus loves us! Thank You, Jesus, for loving me unconditionally and for never leaving me, not even for a minute. I love You with all of my heart and I appreciate all that You have done for me.

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

Searching and Changing

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:23-24).

Many of us have seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Technically, that’s a true statement. And it’s a handy disclaimer to have on the back of your car if you’re one of those Christians who ignores speed limits. But it can also become a major copout when we get nailed for some bad behavior we would rather not change. I much prefer the statement that says, “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you that way.”

It is absolutely true that God loves sinners. In fact, Romans 5:8 declares that God demonstrated, or showed, His love for us “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And aren’t we glad? If Jesus had waited until we were no longer sinners to die for us, it never would have happened. (Nor would it have been necessary.) If we ever managed to arrive at the point where we were no longer sinners, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die in our place because, not only would we have learned to control our behavior perfectly, we would have succeeded in changing our very nature as well. But that is a change only God can make.

And only God can truly search our heart and show us those things that need to be changed—and we all have them. The Christian life is not about a one-time experience of asking God’s forgiveness and inviting Jesus into our heart so we’ll have our “fire insurance” when we die; it’s about the ongoing process of having our minds renewed and our hearts changed to become more like the One who gave His life to purchase that “fire insurance” for us. And that’s why we need to daily humble ourselves and ask Him to search our hearts, and then allow Him to make the changes that are necessary to enable us to become the disciples He has called us to be.May today be a day of heart-searching and change for each of us, as we remember that God really does love us just the way we are—but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

***Adapted from BEYOND ME: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World (New Hope Publishers, June 2008).

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

Recipe for Victory…or Defeat?

Monday, August 4th, 2008

“‘When leaders lead in Israel, when the people willingly offer themselves, bless the Lord!’… In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 5:2; 17:6).

I’ve been studying the Book of Judges lately, and in doing so, I came across two recipes: one for success and one for failure.

The recipe for success is found in Judges 5:2, where we read the opening lines of Deborah’s victory song. Having just led the Israelites in a successful vanquishing of their enemy, Deborah declares that “when the leaders lead” and “when the people willingly offer themselves,” it is time to bless the Lord. Why? No doubt because only the Lord’s miraculous moving could effect such elements of victory.

You see, “in those days there was no king [leader] in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” That, of course, is the recipe for failure: a lack of strong, godly leadership on the part of those who should have been setting the pace and the standard for the people, and a resulting lack of submission to leadership on the part of the people. When the people lack godly leadership, they will “do their own thing,” and the results will be disastrous. When godly leaders step up to the plate and the people “willingly offer themselves” to follow, victory is assured.

In a time of history when we in America once again prepare to choose leaders for our temporary lives here on earth, this is a good principle to keep in mind: choose the recipe for success, not for failure. Even more important, however, is the need for we who are God’s people to keep this recipe in mind regarding our eternal lives. If we want victory in the spiritual realm, then strong, godly leaders must commit themselves to lead (whether or not that wins them any popularity contests!), and the people must commit themselves to follow. That, of course, means walking according to what God says is right—not what’s right in our own eyes.

Whether called to lead or to follow, spend time in God’s Word and in prayer today so that you may know what God says is right—and then walk accordingly. Victory is right around the corner!

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