Archive for January, 2009

Do Not Fear the Refiner’s Fire

Friday, January 16th, 2009

For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap.
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. (Malachi 3:2-3)

The Book of Malachi, in talking about the last days, refers to Christ as a “refiner’s fire,” a “fuller’s soap,” and a “purifier of silver,” the overall message being that God is the One who burns out of us all the sin, hypocrisy, and self-righteous deeds that count for nothing, leaving only the pure holiness and righteousness of God within. But the very fact that this act of purifying happens as a result of fire tells us the process probably won’t be fun—or painless.

Underground believers around the world, particularly in China, have a saying: “True gold does not fear the refiner’s fire.” And that’s the key, isn’t it? If we are truly born again, truly God’s son or daughter, truly a committed disciple who has chosen to live (and die if necessary) for Christ, then the true gold of a life submitted to God will withstand the refiner’s fire, however painful it might be. The only things that will be burned away in the process are worthless and temporal attachments to a world that no longer has no hold on our heart.

Many of us are experiencing the refiner’s fire right now, and I won’t deny for a moment that it’s tough. But I will tell you this: You are not in the fire alone. Not only are your brothers and sisters in Christ enduring fires of their own, but the Fourth Man who walked in the fire with the three Hebrew children (see Daniel 3) is also in the fire with you. And like the Hebrew children, He will bring you out on the other side, victorious and purified, without even the smell of smoke on your clothes.

So, like our beloved brothers and sisters in the persecuted Church, may we not fear the refiner’s fire, for we know we have the true gold of God’s Spirit living within us, and the flames will only cause it to shine brighter for those who are still trapped in the darkness.

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

Change My Heart

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

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

Have you ever noticed that many times we pray for God to change other people’s hearts rather than asking Him to change our own hearts? One of my pastors used to say in his sermons “If you will concentrate on keeping your own heart right with God, you won’t have time to criticize and judge someone else.” My pastor was so right. It is a full time job making sure that my own heart is pleasing to God.

Instead of praying for God to change people’s hearts, let’s ask Him to change our own hearts. We should ask God to let the people we are praying for feel the unconditional love, mercy, grace and compassion He has for them. Until people feel in their hearts that they are loved, they will never change. They can know that they are loved with their intellect but it is only when they feel it in their hearts that they will believe it. We can’t change people. Only Jesus can change a person’s heart and life.

We need to live our lives in such a way that others will see the difference that Jesus can make in a heart and life. We must love our families and friends to Jesus not only by our words, but especially by our actions. We can tell them that we love them but it is only as we prove it to them by our actions that they will believe us. Are you loving others to Jesus by your words and by your actions? Are you asking Jesus to change your heart by making it tender, forgiving and understanding?

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

Have You Tasted Him?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8 King James Version

As I was making spaghetti last night, I realized that I was almost out of Parmesan cheese to put on top of the spaghetti. I didn’t start using Parmesan cheese until last month but now the spaghetti wouldn’t taste good without it. It is the same with our precious Saviour.

Just as the spaghetti wouldn’t taste good now since I’ve tasted the Parmesan cheese, so our lives wouldn’t be the same without Jesus. Once we have tasted His sweetness, His goodness, His mercy, His unconditional love and His forgiveness, our hearts and lives would not be the same without His seasonings.

I don’t know what is going on in your lives and in your hearts today but Jesus knows and He cares about you. He is longing to take your heavy burdens and heartaches away. It is impossible for you to solve your problems yourself. O you might solve them temporarily but they will always come back to haunt you. Only Jesus can give you a permanent solution and bring you through the difficult situations victoriously.

Have you tasted His sweetness, His goodness, His mercy, His unconditional love and His forgiveness? If not, I urge you to open the door to your heart and allow Jesus to fill your heart with His seasonings of compassion and unconditional love. Once you have tasted Jesus, you will have a peace and a joy in your heart that you have never known. He is more than enough for every situation, for every heartache and for every problem. Put your trust in Jesus today.

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

Are You Interceding?

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Thou holdest mine eyes waking:
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
Psalm 77:4 King James Version

There are times when the vicious attacks of satan overwhelm us and we can’t do anything. We can’t speak and we can’t read our Bibles or pray. This is why it is so urgent and important that we intercede for one another. Someone told me that she tries her best to read her Bible and pray when she is in the middle of a difficult situation but she can’t because every time that she tries to read her Bible or pray she starts to cry.

We don’t know what is going on in the hearts of our families and our friends. All we know is what they tell us. However, all of us have heartaches and difficult situations. We not only need to pray for one another; we must also encourage one another on a daily basis. Joyce Landorf Heatherley, a speaker and author, says on one of her teaching tapes “I have pain that wipes out my ability to go on and if I make it through, it’s going to have to be because of you.”

Are you interceding for your family and your friends with tears in your heart and in your eyes? Are you asking God to encourage and comfort them and let them feel His unconditional love? Are you being an encouragement to them? There may come a time when you will need someone to intercede for you and encourage you. Someone sent me an email two years ago and said “I don’t need anybody.” That is a lie straight from the pits of hell. All of us need each other. As Joyce said, “If I make it through, it’s going to have to be because of you.” Cry out to God for your family and friends today!

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

God’s Switchboard

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. Psalm 145:18 King James Version

Several years ago around Christmas time, I called a telephone operator and when she answered and said “Operator” I told her that I didn’t need any help, that I was just calling to thank her for all that she does for people. She got very quiet and then she said “I have been a telephone operator for over twenty five years and you are the first person who has ever called just to say thank you.” What a sad commentary it is on those of us who claim to be Christians that we don’t take time to thank people for their service to us.

If we will look with the eyes of our hearts, we will see God sitting at a huge switchboard that covers the entire world as He waits for us to call Him. He is able to answer all of us at the same time. I believe that our Heavenly Father is filled with joy and happiness when we call Him just to say thank You. However, I doubt that He gets many calls from us just to thank Him. I think that most of the time when we call Him we ask Him for something. If everyone in the world would call Him at the same time to say thank You, I believe He would have tears of joy in His eyes.

Are you lighting God’s switchboard with daily calls to Him? Do you ever call Him just to say thank You or do you always ask Him for something? Let’s start calling God just to thank Him for all that He has done for us without asking Him for anything. He is waiting for our calls and He is always there when we call Him. Are you listening for His call to you and are you available when He calls you and asks you to do something for Him? Thank You, Heavenly Father, for answering us when we call You. Amen.

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

Dealing with the Negatives

Friday, January 9th, 2009

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their lives to the death. (Revelation 12:11).

I don’t know about you, but I prefer encouraging words to discouraging ones, positives messages to negative warnings. And as we turn the corner from 2008 to 2009, the media is full of discouraging, negative reports. We hear them everywhere, and if we aren’t careful, we’ll begin to believe them—and to live accordingly.

Does that mean none of those negative messages are true? Of course not. Many of them may be—and worse. But bad tidings and doomsday warnings should not dictate the tenor of our hearts or the fulfillment of our calling.

There is a common saying among Christians that we have “read the end of the Book—and we win!” There is no greater ending to any book than that very positive truth, my friends. However…if you’ve read the entire Book (and I certainly hope you have, many times over!), you know that we are not promised a problem-free existence in this world as we await that victorious final chapter.

And that’s where the fear comes in. We let our focus drift from the final outcome to the temporal circumstances, and we forget that it’s not up to us grit our teeth, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, and somehow overcome impossible trials and challenges. God is the One—the only One—who can carry us through, safely and victoriously, to the end. And He has given us all we need to hang on to during the ride: the blood of the Lamb, which paid our price for sin and restored us to relationship with the Father; the ability to proclaim the gospel to all who will listen; and the perfect love that flows from the throne of God and melts away the fear of death with the promise of eternal life with Him.

That’s all we will ever need, beloved. Regardless of what the world might throw at us in this New Year, we have the promise and the provision of God that enables us to look past the temporal and into the eternal, to keep our eyes fixed on the Prize and our hearts yearning for heaven. Nothing here can begin to compare for the things God has prepared for us once we pass from this life to the next. So rejoice in the New Year, my friends; don’t be discouraged by negative reports, and remember, the best is yet to be!

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

Stop Struggling

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13 King James Version

Have you ever seen a fish caught in a net struggling to get out? I watched as a fish that had just been caught struggled to get out of the net. As it struggled and tried to get out of the net, it became weak and finally just gave up. I think if we are honest with ourselves that there are times in all of our lives when we feel like we are caught as satan tries his best to reel us into his net of lies, deceit, temptations, discouragement and heartaches.

Yesterday, satan did his best to catch me in his net of discouragement and lies. One of the definitions for the word struggle is “to proceed with difficulty or with great effort”. Have you ever noticed that satan will attack us with the things that will discourage us the most? All day long yesterday, satan lied to me and told me that Jesus didn’t love me. I knew better and so of course, I didn’t believe him. As I struggled to get out of the net of discouragement and lies that satan tried to keep me in, like the fish in the net, I became weak.

I went to bed and as soon as I laid on my bed I felt my Saviour’s loving and compassionate arms go around me. I began to feel my strength returning. There is nothing too hard for Jesus. He is able to lift us up out of every net that satan tries to keep us in. What a precious and understanding, loving and compassionate Saviour we have! Thank You, Jesus, for lifting us up out of the nets of discouragement, deceit and lies that satan tries to keep us in.

If you are trying desperately to get out of the net of lies and discouragement that satan has caught you in, stop struggling! Our precious Saviour is more than able to lift you out of every net that satan has caught you in and set you free. He will kiss away your tears as He whispers softly and tenderly in your ear “I love you”. There is no one like Jesus! No one loves us like Jesus loves us. What a privilege it is to be loved by the Saviour of the world. Give the nets that satan has caught you in to Jesus and then relax in His loving arms as He restores your energy and confidence. When you have done all that you can do, just stand on the promises of God and allow Him to do what you can’t do.

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

Our Affections

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 King James Version

One of the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary for “affections” is “tender attachment: fondness ” Do we have a deep affection for Jesus? Elisha Albright Hoffman was a minister’s son and he wrote over two thousand gospel songs. This is one of my favorite songs that he wrote “Is Thy Heart Right With God”. The words are so beautiful and they make us search our hearts “Have thy affections been nailed to the cross? Is thy heart right with God? Dost thou count all things for Jesus but loss? Is thy heart right with God?”

If we want to make our dear Heavenly Father and our precious Saviour happy, we need to allow Jesus to cleanse our hearts from bitterness, resentment, jealousy, criticism, unforgiveness and everything else that hurts them and breaks their hearts. As soon as we realize that we have allowed satan to put these things in our hearts, we should ask Jesus to forgive us and ask Him to please take these things out of our hearts.

Do you have a deep affection for Jesus? Is He more important to you than your spouse and your family? Do you put Him before everything and everybody? How much time do you spend with Him? If you spend more time watching television or doing anything else than you spend with Him, you are hurting Him and breaking His heart. Remember, the level of our service to Jesus depends on our level of love for Him.
How much do you love Him and how much time are you willing to spend with Him?

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

Attitude of Gratitude

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

“I’ll be waiting for you, Jan, outside the Continental baggage claim. Look for the sky blue Toyota,” Jesse said.

Tired from lack of sleep and a way too early morning flight from Houston to Philly, I scoped out the cars, limos, and buses lined up on the blacktop pavement. I grumbled as I tugged my over-sized suitcase and my “briefcase on wheels” over the curb.

I’m hungry. I’m tired. Next time… I’m simply packing one small suitcase. Help! I need help!

My selfish thoughts consumed me until I spotted Jesse.

Leaning against the driver’s side of the car, Jesse shouted, “Hi, Jan. The trunk is open.”

He flashed me a big grin. The self-concerned, short red-haired lady from Texas (me) wondered: Why didn’t he come around and greet me? Didn’t he know I was weary, half-starved, and in need of some muscle to lift my heavy luggage?

As I heaved my luggage into the open trunk, the combination of bright sunrays and silver-toned wheelchair spokes blurred my vision.

Oh no, Lord. I’m so sorry, I whispered under my breath.

I gently closed the Toyota trunk, and, with my head down, slipped into the passenger seat while Jesse maneuvered his way to the driver’s seat.

I shrunk into my seat. Jesse’s radiant smile and warm heart put me at ease; my embarrassment deminished. We soon began to chat and laugh non-stop—as if we’d known one another for years.

Now, friends, meet Jesse Bagwell, an unsung hero who served our country in the U.S. Air Force for thirteen years. He then joined Continental Airlines and became a licensed commercial pilot for seven years until he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Jessie says he looks for good in all things—whether it’s a sun-filled day, a bird chirping, or a simple raindrop.

Jesse and his lovely bride, Yulia, live for today because it is a gift. When I asked Jesse about his M.S. prognosis, he smiled and said, “I’ll probably be here tomorrow.”

“Jesse, what were your initial symptoms?” I later asked.

“Fatigue, vision problems, and memory lapses,” Jesse responded.

Ouch… My sinful soul had the same symptoms. Yep, once again God pierced my heart and nailed me for my self-centered attitude. I don’t know about you, but I often wonder if I’ll ever learn.

Ain’t it great? Every moment is a new beginning. God uses circumstances, individuals, His Word, and prayer to wake us up and remind us why we were created—which is to have a personal, loving relationship with Him, and to share the Good News, all with an attitude of gratitude.

God continually pursues you and me to refine us and make us like His son, Jesus. He always loves us right where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.

Coates

He’s Knocking

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 King James Version

Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts and knocking. He is waiting for us to open the door and let Him come in to be our personal Saviour. He is also knocking at the door of our hearts for us to surrender our lives to Him in full time service. He may not call us to go to a different country. He may not call us to be pastors, Sunday school teachers, missionaries, evangelists or in any leadership position. However, He calls all of us to serve Him full time by the way that we live and the things that we say.

We are to be a testimony to our families, our friends and to the world by showing them by our actions the difference that Jesus has made in our hearts and in our lives. What is coming out of our mouths? Is it the same hateful cruel criticizing and sarcastic remarks that we made before we were saved? If so, then we need to ask Jesus to forgive us and to wash our mouths out with His soap of correction.

Have you ever set an extra plate at the table for Jesus? Have you talked to Him and laughed with Him while you were eating? Jesus should be more real to us than our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends or anyone else. I don’t think that we have grasped in our hearts that Jesus is with us all the time. Why should we make Him stand and watch us while we are eating?

When we watch a movie on television, do we invite Him to sit by us and watch it with us or are we embarrassed and ashamed to let Him see what we are watching? If we are embarrassed and ashamed and don’t want Jesus to see what we are watching, we should not watch it! Do we have to hide the books and magazines that we are reading because they would offend Him and break His heart? What about our computers? Do we have to shut them off because we are looking at pornography? Let’s stop hurting Jesus and bringing shame and disgrace upon His precious name.

Has he knocked at the door of your heart for you to surrender your life to Him in full time service and you refused to open the door to Him? How we must break His heart when we don’t do what He asks us to do. After all that He has done for us, how can we do less than give Him all of our time and everything that we have? May God forgive us for refusing to open the door of our hearts to the One who gave His life for us on a cruel cross of horror and excruciating pain so that we may have our sins forgiven and live with Him for all eternity.
JoanneCopyright 2008 by Joanne Lowe, all rights reserved.
Used by permission. http://www.heavenwardbound.com
http://christians-in-recovery.org