Archive for December, 2008

Heart Problems

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10 King James Version

Yesterday as I was talking to a lady, she asked me if I have any heart problems. She was talking about the condition of my physical heart because I am making burial arrangements for when God calls me home. I don’t want my family to have to make arrangements for my funeral when I die. I am going to start making payments now for my funeral so they will be spared that burden.

Our Scripture verse is not talking about the condition of our physical heart; it is talking about the condition of our spiritual heart. Jesus tells us in this verse that He is searching our hearts. This is why it is so important that we keep our hearts in right standing with Him. We should go to Him daily, sometimes hourly, or as often as necessary and ask Him to cleanse our hearts of anything that hurts Him and brings shame to Him.

What is the condition of your spiritual heart? Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour? If you were to die right now, is your heart in right standing with Jesus? Is your heart filled with bitterness, unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, sarcasm, criticism and hatred? All of these things hurt Jesus, brings shame to Him and breaks His heart. If you have these things in your heart, ask Jesus to forgive you and then ask Him to please fill your heart with the things that will make Him happy. Do you have spiritual heart problems?

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

Jesus Christ Is Still the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Heb. 13:8).

In this time and culture when everyone seems to be talking about change—good, bad, or otherwise—I return to this particular verse often. It is important to remind ourselves that whatever else may change, Jesus Christ won’t. The same and only Son of God, who spoke the world into existence, walked the dusty streets of Galilee, gave His life on the cross and then rose from the dead, will also come again to take us home to be with Him—forever. Whether that happens for us individually when our time here on earth is finished, or we are all caught up together, the important thing is that the One who is faithful and has promised to carry us safely home will not break His promise. His Word can be trusted; His character is true; His love is unconditional.

I believe it’s important to stress these great foundational truths, particularly at a time when nothing else seems stable. Things we have depended on for years—sometimes our entire lives—are now in a state of flux. Everything is changing, right before our eyes. As believers, many of us have expected and even predicted some of the things we are now witnessing, but I wonder if we REALLY expected them to happen in our lifetimes—or was it just fun to talk about them, to speculate about what it would be like for those living at that time.

Folks, we are seeing history unfold, each and every day. And each day seems to bring radical change. Of course, history has always unfolded, day by day, and it has always brought change. But this radically and rapidly? I’m not so sure.

Whether all this economic and social upheaval is just another cyclical blip on the radar screen or something much more significant, I don’t pretend to say with authority. However, I can tell you this: Whatever happens, whatever changes come, whatever joys or sorrows befall us—Jesus Christ is still the same yesterday, today, and forever. If we will keep our focus on that great unchangeable truth, our faith will stand strong, our hearts steady, and our witness pure.

May the peace and strength that flows from that truth be our motivation to ministry this day, and always!

Macias
Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 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 Tree of Life

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

The Tree of Life
Invisibly anchored in primordial dirt
Reaching for the heavens.
Ever growing, ever adding,
Never decaying.
Seamlessly fed by a storied stream
Stretching across history.
Dreamily drawn by a luminous land
Rich in benevolence.
Awaiting the trumpet’s blare
When death’s disguise will be pared
Like an overcoat on the first day of Spring,
Cold air pierced
As when frigid Christmas church bells ring,
Dormant joy refound
Like the hope that a newborn brings.
We lay presents beneath the tree
While the Presence in The Tree
Keeps us anchored, and free
To bridge the present
And truly…be.

RoadrunnerCopyright 2008 by Roadrunner, all rights reserved.

Used by permission.

For Meditation

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Holy Shepherd…we are Your sheep.
Mighty King…to You we cling.
Most High Priest…though stained our fleece
You give release
And restoration
To Your Kingdom of Peace.

Before break of dawn
Before busy-ness is begun
I sit here thinking.
Without moving hands
In a far away land
I stand at the door and knock.
Shivering, for its cold,
In my mind I behold
A familiar clinking.
A Man with a key
Throws a cloak around me
Then gracefully unlocks
Unwraps
His Majesty.

“Withdraw into the calm of communion with God. Rest in that calm
and peace. When the soul finds its home of rest in God, then it
is that real life begins.” –24 Hours a Day

RoadrunnerCopyright 2008 by Roadrunner, all rights reserved.

Used by permission.

I Did It Again

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25 King James Version

Someone made the comment “I did it again. I promised myself that I was not going to do that again but I did it again.” I think most of us can probably relate to this person. Have you ever promised yourself that you weren’t going to do something again but you did it again? It may be an old habit that you are trying to break and you just can’t seem to conquer it. I promised myself that I was not going to call myself stupid again, yet I did it again yesterday. I said “Joanne, you are so stupid.”

We can wipe our tears away because we don’t have to despair and be discouraged. Our precious Saviour is not only able to keep us from falling but He will also present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. We need to understand that we don’t have the power to do anything. We may conquer the habit temporarily but it always comes back.

Only Jesus can keep us from falling and bring us through the situation victoriously. Where we make our mistakes is trying to do things in our own strength without asking Jesus for help and when we fail we get discouraged. That opens the door for satan to make us feel stupid and inadequate. If you did it again, ask Jesus to help you and then get out of the way and let Him work. Thank God for a Saviour who is able to present us faultless with exceeding joy!

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

A Positive Attitude and the Right PERSPECTIVE

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

“Every detail in our lives for God is worked into something good. ” (Romans 8:28, The Message).

Have you ever tried to view your life from God’s perspective?

What if you were not allowed to say, think or do anything about a person or situation until you first caught them doing something right, or observed it from a positive perspective? Would this approach make a difference in what comes out of your mouth, or the thoughts you may try to focus on?

Carmen, a devoted mom, raising three kids alone, grew tired of minimum wage jobs, living near-poverty from paycheck to paycheck. She started a yard maintenance business ten years ago. She worked hard and long hours to earn enough money to support her children. She clipped coupons from the newspaper to save money on every item she purchased, including groceries, clothing, and household items. For years, Carmen and her children lived in a small, over-crowded apartment while she scrimped to save money in hopes of some day buying a home.

She finally bought that home. Sadly, within two weeks of moving in, nothing about the house was worth positive mention. First, a slight crack within the concrete walkway destroyed her joy. Within a month, the front door was difficult to close. Later, water from the kitchen faucet dripped a couple of times. Carmen was not handling new home ownership adjustments well at all, and she made it a point to tell everyone she came in contact with every “negative” aspect about her house.

After several months of listening to her complaints, I asked her if there was anything about the house she liked. Her initial reaction was a bit haughty, but in her heart she knew I wasn’t been sarcastic… I truly cared.

“Mrs. Coates, are you thinking that I don’t appreciate my new house?”

“No, I believe you do. But don’t you think you might feel better if you looked at the big picture, minimizing the negative and maximizing the positive aspects of your home that you worked so hard to get?”

She nodded.

“Let’s talk about the spacious kitchen. How do you like having room enough in the kitchen for the kids to cook beside you?”

“Oh, the kids and I like it. Last week we prepared meals for hurricane Ike evacuees and then delivered them.”

“Well, how does it feel to have a living room big enough for you and the kids to read the Bible together as a family?”

“The family room is cozy, yet spacious, and perfect for us.”
“Have you established family TV nights yet?”

“Not yet, but we plan to.”

“How do the kids like having their own bedroom?”

“They’re delighted and are beginning to decorate the walls with their soccer ribbons, academic awards, as well as Bible verse posters. The kids finally feel a sense of home.”

“Carmen, over the years, I’ve built several homes and lived in a couple of pre-owned homes. Minor adjustments to sinks, toilets, doors, and more just go with owning a home. It takes a few months to work out all the minor issues; not to mention homeowner basic maintenance. Your Creator motivated you to work hard to purchase this home. When you display a critical attitude, how do you think God feels about the gifts he has given you?”

Her chestnut eyes filled with tears. “I’m so ashamed. I need to be thankful, don’t I?”

“Yes, my friend, you do. You also need to change your perspective regarding your ‘dream’ home. There are many good aspects of your home, so please stop and envision the positive aspects so negativity doesn’t become your focus.

“Carmen, your cup is filled to the brim with blessings, including good health, terrific kids, a new home, a profitable business. By changing the perspective of your attitude, you can change your mood, the attitudes of your kids, and learn to cherish an attitude of gratitude.”

And so it is with each of us, including me. As we change our attitude, we see life differently, and life itself becomes different. And every detail becomes GOOD!

Coates
Copyright 2008 by Jan Coates, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Jan Coates is an author, speaker, consultant, founder of Set Free Today Ministries and serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery®.

God?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

God,
Am I using the wrong language?
Am I sitting in the wrong position?
Do you really prefer the King James translation?
Did I accidentally breathe in through my mouth
when I should have used my nose?
Do I need a better devotional?
Are you mad because I’m behind on my tithe?
Have you left our church for the Presbyterian Church down the road?
Did I hit a couple of sour notes in the last hymn we sang?
Do you really know everything?
If I let go, will you catch me?
Are these all the wrong questions?
Can a void hold all the answers?
God?

RoadrunnerCopyright 2008 by Roadrunner, all rights reserved.

Help Wanted!

Monday, December 8th, 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

A lot of people are trying to find employment. However, it is very hard to find work because instead of companies hiring people, the companies are laying their workers off or letting them go permanently because they don’t have enough money to pay them. If we will look in our hearts, we will see a huge sign with the words “Help Wanted!” We won’t get paid in money for this job. Even better than earning money that will only last for a little while, we will be paid by Jesus Himself with benefits that will last for all eternity.

Many years ago, Jesus said “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Today, He is still saying the same words. It is up to us to answer His call and say to Him “Here am I; send me.” Have you heard the voice of the Lord? One day every one of us will stand before a Holy God and give an account of the way we answered our Saviour’s call. Have you answered Jesus and said “Here am I; send me?” After all that Jesus has done for you, how can you refuse to spread His unconditional love to everyone starting with your own family?

How would you feel if Jesus were to return right now and said to you “Why didn’t you tell your family and friends how much I love them? Don’t you love Me?” I believe you would have to hang your head in shame not only because you didn’t spread His unconditional love but also because you hurt Him. Will you open your heart of compassion right now and say to Jesus “Here am I; send me?” Please don’t keep hurting Jesus. He has suffered enough for you.

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

True Preparation

Friday, December 5th, 2008

“…prepare to meet your God…” (Amos 4:12).

We are in a season of preparation. With Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas right ahead, our preparations sometimes become hectic, even frantic, as we race to complete all that we believe we must do to enjoy the season.

That’s sad, isn’t it? All the cooking, cleaning, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, list-making—it’s exhausting! And as much as we may enjoy the results, the busyness of it all can sap our strength and steal our joy, robbing us of the true meaning of the season.

But there is something even sadder in all this, and that’s the fact that we readily and willingly invest so much time preparing to celebrate these lovely holidays while neglecting to prepare for the most important event of our lives—meeting with God.

This is true of both our regular, daily meetings with God, as well as the one face-to-face meeting we will all experience with our Creator upon our death. Of course, for those of us who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have not only already had that first meeting by being introduced to God’s only Son, but we have also established an ongoing relationship with Him by inviting His Spirit to live within us. Therefore, there need be no fear of that meeting after death. Yet even those of us who have the joy and privilege of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s Spirit dwells within our heart can still lose sight of the need to prepare to meet with Him. As a result, we neglect the ongoing cultivation of what should be a vital and growing relationship with God and allow our faith to grow cold and joyless.

Give yourself a present this season, will you? Take time to prepare to meet with God—and then do it. Regardless of how busy your life may be, purposefully interrupt that impossible schedule and rest in His presence, absorb His strength, and revel in His love. Then pass that gift on to someone else who has yet to take the time to prepare to meet God.

It is the most important meeting of our lives—and therefore the most important preparations we ever make. Yes, we want our houses decorated for the season and the packages wrapped for the holidays—but those preparations should always take a back seat to preparing to meet with our God.

Shalom to you all in this wonderful season of preparation!

Macias
Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 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

Our Gentle Shepherd

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 King James Version

If ever we needed a shepherd to protect us from danger, it is now. Our world is filled with so much violence. Not only are we fighting a war, we have violence in our own neighborhoods and in our families. Our Heavenly Father knew that we would need a shepherd so He sent His only Son to not only die for us and become our personal Saviour, but also to become our personal shepherd to protect us from harm.

Every day we read and hear about people who have been killed and people who are being abused and beaten by their families. Thank God that He loves us enough and cares enough for us to send His only Son to be our shepherd. Not only is Jesus our Saviour and our shepherd, He is our gentle shepherd. He gently leads us and puts us back on the right path when we stray away from the path He has given us for our lives. He wipes the tears from our eyes with His gentle kisses of love and compassion.

There are times when we become discouraged and feel like we can’t take another step because of so many disappointments, sorrows and heartaches in our lives. It is then that He picks us up and carries us close to His heart of compassion until the pain and anguish goes away. What a friend! What a Saviour, this Jesus of Nazareth! There is no other friend like Jesus! If you are discouraged and weary today, allow Jesus to pick you up and carry you until the pain and sadness goes away. He really does love you and He cares when you are hurting.

When you hurt, He hurts and when you are happy, He rejoices with you. Give all of your problems, hurts, sorrows and heartaches to Jesus. He will be faithful to gently pick you up in His tender arms of unconditional love and compassion. He will carry you through the dark valleys and will once again set you on the mountain tops of happiness and joy. You don’t have to go through this life alone. Don’t wait another minute, run into the open arms of our gentle Shepherd and Saviour today and let Him fill your heart once again with joy, peace and happiness.

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