Archive for October, 2008

My Father’s business

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

“Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).

“Do business till I come” (Luke 19:13).

A dear friend shared a great story with me this week. It was about an elderly man who remembered when he was a little boy during the Depression. The boy and his family were fairly isolated from the details of the bad news that flooded the country, but occasionally someone returning from a trip to the big city would stop by their farm for a quick visit. The boy and his father would then stop their work in the fields and come to stand by the fence and talk with the visitor, who proceeded to tell them how very bad everything really was. After listening for a while, the father would then turn to the boy and say, “All right, son, that’s enough bad news. It’s time to get back to work.”

Beloved, that is a powerful word to us today. Regardless of how we spend our days or what we do for a living, we’ve had enough bad news to last us for a very long while. It’s time to get back to business.

And what is that business? According to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, it’s the “Father’s business,” the same business Jesus was here to conduct in a lost and dying world. Jesus came to save sinners, to open the way for reconciliation of relationship with the Father. And, according to 2 Corinthians 5:18, Jesus has “given us the ministry of reconciliation” to carry on to completion.

The time is short, dear ones. Whether Jesus comes for all of us one day soon or for one of us tonight, we dare not waste the precious moments God has given us. We’ve spent enough time listening to the bad news. Jesus has commanded us to do the “Father’s business” and proclaim the Good News, so let’s get back to work while there’s still a bit of daylight left….

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

The Start of a Ministry

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8 King James Version

It doesn’t matter if God calls us to be a missionary, a pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a writer or anything else there has to be a start of the ministry. Before we can serve Jesus in any way, our hearts have to be right before God. The start of a ministry for Jesus is when we go to God and ask Him to search our hearts and take away anything that is displeasing to Him.

I received an email three years ago and the person told me that he had been called to be a pastor but he was not willing to forgive someone who had hurt him. Unless we first allow God to cleanse our hearts of unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, criticism and jealousy, we will never be able to serve Jesus as He wants us to serve Him. How can we tell others of the unconditional love of Jesus if we aren’t willing to forgive others and extend to them unconditional love?

Unless and until we allow God to cleanse our hearts, we will never be a real witness for Jesus. If we tell people that God will forgive them but we refuse to forgive them, they are not going to believe us. There are times that instead of drawing others closer to Jesus, we turn them away from Jesus by our unkind words and the cruel way that we treat them. May God have mercy on us! How is the condition of your heart today? Is it pleasing to God or does it make Him sad?

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

Just As You Are

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 King James Version

I watched a Billy Graham crusade on television last night. They played the song “Just As I Am” during the invitation time. As I listened as they sang this beautiful song, I thought about how many times I had tried to change my attitude, my habits and my life before I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour. I finally realized that there was nothing I could do to clean myself up before I asked Jesus to save me. Only His precious atoning blood could cleanse us from my sins.

You can’t clean yourself up and change your heart and life no matter how hard you try. Only Jesus can change our hearts and our lives. He wants us to come to Him just as we are. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need a Saviour and He wouldn’t have had to suffer such agony and pain on the cruel cross of Calvary. Thank God that our precious Saviour loves us enough that He was willing to die for us on the cross. What amazing unconditional love and compassion from the heart of Jesus!

Have you been trying to change your life and become perfect before you go to Jesus? It will never work. It is impossible for you to change your heart and your life. You must humble yourself and admit that you are a sinner and go to Jesus with a broken heart for your sins. When you go to Him just as you are and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, He will cleanse you of all unrighteousness and give you a new heart.

Have you accepted the Christ of Calvary as your personal Saviour? If not, I urge you, I plead with you to say “yes” to Jesus before it is too late. One day it will be too late for you to ask Jesus into your heart to be your personal Saviour. He is going to return for us without any warning. Will you be ready to meet Him? You must make the decision between staying in the control of satan or giving your heart and life to Jesus. Your family and friends can’t make the decision for you as much as they want to do so. The decision is yours. What will you do with Jesus? Salvation is a personal matter between you and Jesus. Open the door of your heart today and let Jesus come in before it is too late!

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

Keep Preaching!

Monday, October 13th, 2008

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 King James Version

Over the last three and a half years, I have received eight emails from pastors who were discouraged because they didn’t think anybody was listening when they preached. I told all of the pastors the same thing that I am sharing in this devotion. Several years ago when I lived in East Texas, my pastor preached a sermon on the joy of Jesus. Pastor Byron said in his sermon “If you want to fly higher than a kite, start bragging on Jesus.” When he said that, I thought that he was crazy. It wasn’t until several years later that what he preached on that Sunday morning became real in my heart and in my life.

Several years later, I was still very depressed but I would have tried anything to get out of the depression that I had been in for so many years. I had tried everything else that the books, my therapists, my doctors and my counselors had recommended. Nothing worked! They told me to replace my negative thoughts with positive thoughts. I tried doing that but this world offers nothing that lasts; I couldn’t find anything that was positive. It was only when I started telling others how wonderful Jesus is and how much He loves them that the peace, the joy and the happiness that I had so longed for most of my life filled my heart.

Pastors, please don’t become discouraged and give up. Keep preaching because God will use your sermons to make changes in people’s hearts and lives. It may take many years for the sermons to penetrate people’s hearts just as it took many years for Pastor Byron’s sermon to penetrate my heart. You may never see the difference that your faithfulness to preach the Word of God makes in peoples hearts and lives. However, Jesus sees and His heart is made to rejoice because you were faithful to preach His Word.

I submit to you on the authority of the Word of God that what you preach will make a difference in the hearts and lives of people. Keep preaching! Never give up because what you say in your sermons will make the difference between precious souls spending eternity in hell with satan or spending eternity in Heaven with Jesus. Remember, it is Jesus who works in the hearts and lives of people and only our precious Saviour can change their hearts and lives. Keep preaching because not only are you making a difference in people’s hearts and lives, you are making Jesus happy.

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

Our Refuge and Our Strength

Friday, October 10th, 2008

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. Psalm 46:1-3 King James Version

Our Heavenly Father not only loves us unconditionally; He is also our refuge and our strength from our problems and from the fears and the heartaches and burdens that we bear. No matter what is going on in our lives today, we can run to our Heavenly Father for refuge and for strength. Not only is He our help in trouble; He is a “very present help in trouble”. He already knows what heartaches and problems we have but He wants us to come to Him and share our hearts with Him.

There are times in our lives when we start to become frightened and discouraged and our situations threaten to overwhelm us and pull us under for the last time. We don’t have to travel a million miles to reach our Heavenly Father. He is already here. All we have to do is pray and tell Him that we are frightened and discouraged and that we are starting to go under for the last time. He will be faithful to not only hear us but also to protect us and comfort and encourage us.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being a very present help in times of trouble. Thank You for being our refuge and our strength and thank You for loving us unconditionally. Thank You for the gift of Your beloved Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins. We love You, Father, and we appreciate all that You have done for us and continue to do for us every day. May we be children that brings honor to You. May we do things and say things that will make You happy. Amen.

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

It Isn’t About Us

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Prov. 3:5-6).

If I had to depend on my own understanding right now, I’d be depressed. The news is definitely not good, is it? Economically, we’re in the toilet; Saturday Night Live is defining the elections; jobless rates continue to rise; crime is rampant—and the pundits predict that it will only get worse.

YIKES! If I hadn’t already read the end of the Book and know who wins, I might be tempted to throw myself out the window. (Of course, since I live in a one-story house, I’d undoubtedly just break several bones and then have to continue on in the same sorry state as before except that I would now be doing it all in a body cast!)

Seriously, folks, though I have been a member of the Presidential Prayer Team since its inception and am now actively involved in “praying the vote” and seeking God for clear direction every step of the way, I must admit that it is a daily—even moment-by-moment—struggle to stay focused on the One who has promised to keep us in perfect peace so long as we remember who’s in charge and whom it is we are called to serve. But if we will discipline ourselves to do that, then we can look at the dark circumstances around us and see them as golden opportunities to shine for Jesus. And if the world ever needed to see a light shining in the darkness, it’s now, amen?

I can’t tell you that by staying focused on God and trusting Him to lead and guide us through these troubled times that we won’t experience those troubles or that He will somehow insulate us from all problems. (He could, of course, but He doesn’t. Why? Because He loves us enough to allow us to grow strong in tribulation to the extent that we trust Him in the midst of it!)

And that’s the secret. It really isn’t about us—our needs, our wants, our problems, our woes, our difficulties…or our abilities to overcome those things. It’s about Him—His provision, His protection, His faithfulness, His plans, His purpose…and His glory. If we will commit ourselves to walk with Him (and gladly allow Him to carry us when our strength is spent!), He will bring us safely home, regardless of what we may endure on the journey. To know that eternity is assured in His presence makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

So regardless of how busy you get or how bleak the circumstances, stay close to Him, listen for His whisper and His heartbeat, and trust Him to enable you to remain faithful today….

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

Time to Stop Killing

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Isaiah 61:1 King James Version

When I surrendered to the mission field in 1999, God gave me this Scripture verse as my ministry verse. However, this verse applies to every person who has been born again through the precious atoning blood of Jesus. We have been given a mandate by Jesus Himself that we are to spread the good news of His unconditional love to everyone we meet. We are also to bind up the brokenhearted by our loving words and actions. All too often, we fail Jesus in this area.

This is not a devotion about killing people in wars and killing people by shooting them or stabbing them. It is a devotion about those of us who claim to be Christians and who go to church and kill the ones sitting next to us because we don’t love and encourage them. It is about killing our pastors by our criticism and judgmental ways. Yesterday, I watched a program on television and listened as Chonda Pierce, a well known Christian comedian, gave her testimony. As she gave her testimony, it was easy to see that it came from her heart.

She told about being committed to a mental hospital for severe depression. One of the statements she made really touched my heart and I cried because it is so true. She said that she found more acceptance in the group setting in the mental hospital than she has in all the years of being in churches. How tragic that is and what a sad commentary it is on those of us who claim to be Christians!

Chonda also told about a man who was in the same group as she was. This man had tried to hang himself. This precious man was a pastor who was discouraged and defeated. O people, it is time that we stop plunging the knife into our pastor’s hearts by our criticism, sarcasm and holier than thou attitudes! Joyce Landorf Heatherley, a well known Christian author and speaker, said on one of her teaching tapes, “What would happen if every person in the church would encourage and affirm their pastors?”

When is the last time you encouraged your pastor? When is the last time you told your pastor’s spouse how much you appreciated their service to you? Have you thanked your pastor’s spouse for giving up precious time with the pastor so that your pastor could spend time with you? Have you invited your pastor and family out to lunch? They may not be able to go because of other commitments but just knowing that you cared enough to invite them out to eat will put a smile on their faces and happiness in their hearts.

Let’s stop killing our pastors and the people we sit next to in church by our judgmental and holier than thou attitudes. We would all do well to remember that we are not perfect so we have no business criticizing and judging our pastors. There was only one perfect person who ever lived or ever will live and His name is Jesus!

We must never forget that our pastors are human just as we are. They cry and they hurt just as we do. They need to be reassured that Jesus loves them unconditionally just as we need to be reassured that He loves us unconditionally. Above all, we must remember that it is not enough to just pray for our pastors and families; we must love them by encouraging them and comforting them. Please love your pastor and family as they need to know that they are appreciated and loved.

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

Come Home

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Luke 15:18-24 King James Version

What a beautiful picture of our loving Heavenly Father! I have read this passage of Scripture many times but it hit me today like it never has before. There are times when we stray away from God but when we confess our sins to Him not only does He forgive us; He runs to meet us. What a privilege and what an honor is ours to be loved by our compassionate Heavenly Father! Thank You, Heavenly Father, for loving us and for loving us unconditionally.

W. L. Thompson wrote the beautiful and inspiring song “Softly and Tenderly.” The words to the refrain are so appropriate for us when we wander off the path that God has laid out for us. “Come home, come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home.” If you will look with your heart and listen with your heart, you will hear our Heavenly Father calling you to come home and you will see Him running to meet you.

If you have strayed away from God, He is waiting for you to come home with outstretched arms and a heart full of compassion. If you will take the first step, He will run so fast to meet you that you will instantly be in His loving and tender arms of compassion, understanding and forgiveness. I urge you to get back on the perfect path that God has laid out for you. He will take your hand and walk with you through the dark valleys of sorrow and discouragement as well as on the mountain tops of happiness and joy. Do you hear Him calling to you, “Come home.” ? Please don’t hurt Him by refusing to answer His loving call. Go home to your Heavenly Father today.

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

Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:15).

October is a tough month for me, as memories of my dad flood my heart. Oh, I think of him often throughout the year, but this is the month when we used to celebrate his birthday; it is also the month we remember the miracle and mercy of the God who faithfully wooed that 88-year-old self-proclaimed, lifelong atheist in the last week of his life on earth and then blessed those of us who had been praying for him with the assurance of his salvation.

Just this morning I was alerted to two dear friends who are even now in the process of “walking their dads home to Jesus.” As I pray for them, I cannot help but remember the sweetness of spending the last few moments of earthly life with a loved one, and then confidently releasing them into the hands of our faithful Savior. It’s been nearly nine years now since I placed that last kiss on my dad’s cheek and watched the light fade from his eyes, but I miss him still, and I always will until I join him at the foot of God’s throne.

What a precious and amazing thing it is that God would include Psalm 116:15 in the Bible! This verse doesn’t just assure us that God is aware of the passing of one of His people into eternity; it assures us that the process is “precious” in His sight. Not only is God the Father watching over this process and waiting to welcome home yet another child saved by the sacrifice of Jesus the Son, but the Holy Spirit is present as each redeemed soul leaves behind that worn-out suit of flesh and blood and moves into the presence of the very Creator of the universe.

Precious. The word means “high-priced; costly; dear; expensive; cherished.” What a perfect word to describe the passing of the redeemed soul from this world to the next! That passing cost God everything—and it is cherished in His sight. Whether you are even now in the process of saying goodbye to a loved one or just knowing that one day soon you certainly will be, remember and be encouraged that it is a precious time of releasing your beloved into the hands of a faithful God who has already gone ahead and prepared the way….

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

Rebellious Children

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts. Isaiah 65:2 King James Version

I remember one time when I was a teenager that I wanted to do something and my Mother told me that I couldn’t. I kept asking her and hounding her to get permission to do what I wanted to do. She finally got exasperated and upset and said “Do what you want. It doesn’t matter what I say. You’re going to do it your way anyway.”

I think that sometimes we treat God the same way that I treated my Mother. If He tells us no or doesn’t give us an answer when we want it, we may not say that we are going to do it our way or even think it but we do it our way anyway. I’m reminded of what I heard Bill Gaither say on one of their Homecoming tapes that I have. I don’t know if he was talking about his parents or if he was quoting someone else. No matter if it was his parents or someone else’s parents the message is the same.

Bill Gaither said “I used to think that my parents were so stupid until I went away to college. When I came home, I was surprised at how much they had learned.” When I first heard Bill say that, I laughed but then it hit me that we do the same thing to God. We sometimes think that our way is better than God’s way. Then when we fail and end up with our lives off of the perfect path that He has set for us, we realize that it is us and not Him who acted in a stupid manner.

There are a lot of good things that we can do to serve Jesus but we need to be certain that they are in His will for our lives. He may have other plans for us; plans that He hasn’t revealed to us yet. We also need to be certain that we don’t get involved doing so many things, even things that are good, that we don’t have the time to spend with Him. I received an email from someone last year who told me that she had joined so many clubs and was teaching so many Bible studies, ten Bible studies every day of the week, that she didn’t have the time to fellowship with God like she used to do. How that must hurt Him and break His heart!

It is time that we stop being rebellious children to our Heavenly Father and become obedient children. We need to remember that He knows what is best for our lives. He can see the end results and He is the only one who can make all things work together for good. Are you being obedient to God or are you one of His rebellious children? Allow God to direct you on the perfect path that He has for you. You will have a lot more peace, a lot more joy and a lot more happiness in your heart and in your life. The most important thing is that you will make the heart of our precious Saviour happy.