Friday, October 31, 2014

Accepting Forgiveness

by Wendy Pope
"Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Psalm 32:2 (NIV 1984)
Many years were spent regretting sins from my past. These sins had hurt others and me. Day after day I would replay my decisions. Two decades later, the sting of past sin still had a hold on me.
God had forgiven me; I'd told Him about my sin and asked Him to pardon me. So why couldn't I accept the freedom of His forgiveness?
I wanted so badly to believe I was the person David mentions in Psalm 32:2, "Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Yet I struggled with accepting that God's grace could erase my sin, wiping it away as if it never happened.
This can be a hard thing to accept for many of us. It sounds all well and good, but in reality, the weight of sin makes it difficult to believe a perfect God can forgive us.
Yet, His Word assures us that God does not count our sin against us. So how can we live in this truth?
The first step is to acknowledge our sin: to ourselves and to God. This opens up the door for honest conversations with the Lord and helps us stop hiding from the fear of being found out.
The next step is to fill our hearts and minds with truth. Throughout the Bible, God teaches how an unaccepting heart can be changed and softened to accept His forgiveness. The following verses are truth from a loving God who longs to transform our lives through the grace of His forgiveness.
My God doesn't condemn. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (NIV)
My master is grace, not sin. "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NIV 1984)
My Savior Jesus has set me free, therefore I am free. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36 (NIV)
My old is gone; because of Jesus Christ I am new. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984)
Are you lugging a load of sin that God has already forgiven? Are you ready to stop living in shame, shackled by regret? Life is too short to exchange the freedom of grace for the bondage of unbelief.
Today, allow God to wash the hurt and regret from past sins away with the transforming power of His truth. And let's pray for an accepting heart that lives in the freedom of God's grace and forgiveness.
Dear Lord, by faith I accept Your forgiveness and refuse to be a slave to sin You've already forgiven. Today, I confess and move on! I commit to believe Your transforming truths to live fully and freely in Your grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Will You Share Your Story?

by Lysa TerKeurst
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
Whenever I've stepped out to do something I felt God calling me to do, the voices of criticism and condemnation have been there to greet me. Early on in ministry the voices were loud and cruel. "You'll never be a speaker." "You are not wanted." "Look at you. Do you really think God could use someone like you?"
Sometimes I measured myself against other people. "She's so clever. She's so educated. She's so connected. Who am I compared to all that?" Gradually, I shrank back. I pulled away. I put up a front of perfection with carefully crafted words and a house and kids that looked just right.
Polished on the outside, yet completely undone on the inside.
Eventually the Lord called my bluff. I was simultaneously going through the books Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. Often tears streamed from my eyes while attempting to get through the lessons. But one day it was more than just tears. It was sobs pouring from a chest so heavy with burdens I thought I might literally break apart.
Down on my face, I asked God to speak to me. What I heard in reply was one simple, life-changing question: Will you share your story?
"Yes, I will share my story. The good parts that are safe and tidy and acceptable."
But safe and tidy and acceptable were not what God was looking for. He wanted the impossible.
Absolutely impossible ... in my strength.
God met every one of my arguments with scriptures about relying not on my strength, but on His.
He untangled my need for approval with the challenge to live for an audience of One. He helped me see where the voices of doubt were coming from and challenged me to consider the source. And, quite simply, God kept whispering He loved me over and over again.
The first time I shared my story was an act of absolute obedience. I kept my head down and my guard up. I expected the ladies listening to stone me ... especially when I got to the part about my abortion. The shame of childhood abuse and rejection was nothing compared to the shame of my choice to abort my child.
I'd wept over that choice.
I'd repented.
I'd gone to God hundreds of times and asked for forgiveness.
I'd laid it down every time there was an altar call.
But nothing brought the redemption that day brought. As I shook at that podium, I shared exactly what God asked me to.
And then the miracle happened.
When I finished and dared to look up, tear-stained faces were looking back at me. Mouths were whispering, "Me too. Me too."
In that moment, I finally understood the meaning behind Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Seeing God use the very thing that made me feel utterly worthless to help others changed everything. I was finally breaking free from Satan's chains of shame and could see his lies for what they were. In that moment, I felt victorious—not in my own power, but in the Lord's strength and ability to use all things for good.
My saying yes to God gave others the courage to say yes to Him as well. Burdens were lifted. Lives were changed. Hidden secrets were touched by grace. It's a beautiful thing when women say yes to God. In what way is He calling you to say yes?
Dear Lord, thank You for making the impossible, possible. Thank You for taking every event in my life and using it for good. You are worthy to be praised. I want to follow Your plan for my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Celebrating My Scars

By Steve Goodier

Po Bronson, in his book Why Do I Love These People? (Random House,  2005), tells a true story about a scarred and stately elm tree. The Tree was planted in the first half of the 20th Century on a farm near Beulah, Michigan (USA). It grew to be magnificent. Today the elm spans Some 60 feet across its lush, green crown. Its trunk measures about 12 Feet in circumference. And a vivid scar encircles the tree.

In the 1950s the family that owned the farm kept a bull chained to the Elm. The bull paced round and round the tree. The heavy iron chain Scraped a trench in the bark about three feet off the ground. The Trench deepened over the years threatening to kill the tree. But, Though damaged so severely, the tree strangely did not die.

After some years, the family sold the farm and took their bull. They Cut the chain, leaving the loop embedded in the trunk and one link Hanging down. The elm continued to grow and bark slowly covered parts Of the rusting chain that strangled it. The deep gash around the trunk Became an ugly scar.

Then one year, agricultural catastrophe struck Michigan -- in the form Of Dutch Elm Disease. A path of death spread across vast areas of Countryside. Most elm trees in the vicinity of the farm became infected And died. But that one noble elm remained untouched.

Amazingly, it had survived two hardships. It was not killed by the Bull's' chain years earlier, and this time it out-lasted the deadly Fungus. Year after year it thrived. Nobody could understand why it was Still standing in a vast area where most every other elm tree was gone.

Plant pathologists from Michigan State University came out to study The tree. They looked closely at the chain necklace buried deep in the Scar. These experts reported that the chain itself actually saved the Elm's' life. They reasoned that the tree absorbed so much iron from the Chain left to rust around its trunk that it became immune to the Fungus. What certainly could have killed the tree actually made it Stronger and more resilient.

As Ernest Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward Many are strong at the broken places.” The same chain that severely Wounded the tree saved its life in the end.

The story of this tree reminds me that the very things that have hurt Me, physically as well as emotionally, have also helped me more than I May ever know. Many of them left scars – some of the scars are visible And some not. But these days, I am learning to accept my scars – even To celebrate them.

Why not? My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest Wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind Something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted On me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What Hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.

Yes, I have scars. I have decided to look on them as things of beauty. And I will celebrate them.

-- Steve Goodier

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where Can I Find JOY?

by Wendy Blight
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." James 1:2 (NLT)
My daughter's journey with scoliosis was a heart-breaking time for me as a mother. There were days I couldn't see past Lauren's extreme physical pain and my wondering heart questioned, why hasn't God healed her yet?
Through those years, I struggled. I felt empty ... void of hope ... void of joy. I knew what God's Word said about joy: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2 NLT). But in the midst of Lauren's circumstances, her broken heart and wounded body, it was hard to follow that command.
How could I obey this scripture and find joy when someone I loved was in such pain? God graciously answered the cry of my heart by revealing to me these three words ... Jesus Only You.
I noticed the first letter of each of those words spelled J O Y. And it clicked with me. Jesus is our joy!
When God says in James 1:2 to consider trials as opportunities for joy, He's not talking about the joy found in earthly things. Circumstances turning out how we desire, possessions and positions, and even good health only offer happiness. They are temporary. What God longs for us to have is deep, lasting joy found in Jesus.
The King James Version says we are to "count it all joy" when we walk through trials. This word "count" means "evaluate."
When trials come, we must evaluate them in light of God's truths and promises. It's not the trial itself we consider a joy. Rather, it's the results that will come from the trial that we consider pure joy.
This involves trusting that God is actively working for our good even in the midst of painful circumstances. And as we trust Him, we will find an inner gladness rooted not in our circumstances, but in the reality of the living God who transcends our circumstances.
After years of praying, asking God to heal my daughter, He did. It still hurts to remember the excruciating pain Lauren suffered. But God was and is faithful. God didn't heal my girl in the miraculous way I was expecting. Instead, she endured a seven-hour surgery to place two rods in her spine. She missed nearly six weeks of school and labored through months of relearning how to sit and walk and move. She had to quit competitive cheerleading. But in and through that time, God did a new thing.
Looking back, I can see how He held us up, deepened Lauren's faith, and drew our family closer to each other. In real and personal ways, God showed us His tender, loving care. And He taught me the meaning of true J O Y.
Jesus alone is the source of our joy.
When discouragement comes and you feel you cannot take one more step, remember these three words, Jesus Only You!
Jesus came so that I . . . so that you . . . can experience His joy fully and completely in us through any and all circumstances.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You for the joy that is ours in Him. Every time our thoughts turn to our hurt, cause our pain to bring us back to J O Y . . . Jesus Only You. We ask this in the Name of Jesus, amen.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Unshakable Confidence

Lynn Cowell
"Mary responded, 'I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.' And then the angel left her." Luke 1:38 (NLT)

Lord, I'm not sure I can take one more rejection.
No. No. No. Every email I received said the same thing, using different words. We don't publish that type of book. We don't publish writers we don't know. We won't publish you.
Letting each rejection seep into my heart, many days I crawled into bed and cried. Why would God ask me to do something good, yet allow a process that made me feel so bad?
But then I remembered Mary, who was much wiser than I. Her story is found in the Bible. Instead of building her confidence on something she could lose, or have taken away, she built her confidence on God.
Picture this teenager. She's engaged to a great guy. Wedding plans are in motion. Life is good.
Then suddenly, her happily-ever-after dreams are interrupted by an angel announcing this surprise:
"Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you"
(Luke 1:28, MSG).
Flattered? Nope. She was scared! However, the angel assures her, "You have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus" (v. 29-33).
My reaction would have been, What? Pregnant? I'm not married yet! There's no way!
But when Mary received this news, we don't see fear or doubt. Her response isn't, "This will be the end of me! What will everyone say about me?"
Mary doesn't ditch her confidence. Instead, as we find in today's key verse, her reaction is grounded in faith: "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true" (Luke 1:38a).
Mary responded with confidence because Mary's confidence began with her relationship with God.
Not on something, like her reputation. That was outside her control.
Not on someone, like Joseph. For all she knew, he would leave her once he learned she was pregnant.
Not on some place, like her home. Mary actually left town to visit her cousin after she received this news.
Did Mary understand everything God was doing? Unlikely. Or resent what He was doing? Doesn't appear so.
Would others judge her? No doubt they would, but Mary did not allow people's opinions to prevent her from embracing God's calling, even if she didn't completely understand it. The lack of details didn't impact her confidence in His plans for her life, nor her trust in Him to take care of her.
There have been times when I've based my confidence on others. As a teenager, I based it on a boyfriend's affection, a coach's affirmation or my parent's approval. If one of them failed to give the "Atta girl!" I craved, I saw myself as a failure.
As a mom, I've built it on my kids and their performance. When they made a mistake, my confidence was shaken. I've based my security on my career and the success I wanted. Success hasn't always come, although rejection often has.
Has there been a time when circumstances were less than perfect and your confidence was shaken?
I'm learning that unshakable confidence is not built on someone, something or someplace, but on our unshakable God. This confidence is built over time, before confidence-shaking circumstances come. In the difficult times, God has taught me He alone is my firm foundation for rebuilding confidence. Only Him.
As we face inevitable uncertainties in life, in our relationships, in our futures, let's start to rebuild our confidence on the One that can never be taken away: God. The only One who will never leave us or forsake us.
Lord, it's easier to build my confidence on what I can see and what I know. Help me to build my confidence on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Other People Might Think I'm Crazy

Tracie Miles
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

It was a record-setting day, with the temperature reaching three digits. I was on the verge of whining when I saw a frail, exhausted and obviously pregnant woman at the edge of the busy highway, wearing long sleeves and pants that hung from her tiny body.

She was walking with her head down, despair evident in her posture. And despite my initial reaction to keep driving, my heart wouldn't listen.

I sensed God tugging at my heart to help her, but as my hands gripped the steering wheel, excuses gripped my mind. I'm already late to pick up my daughter up from practice. It's dangerous to pick up strangers on the side of the road. Other people might think I'm crazy if I stop to help. Someone else will help her.

But God's voice continued speaking to my heart, reminding me of the passage in Matthew 25:40: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

God's pull to turn around was stronger than my excuses to keep driving, so despite my hesitations, I did it anyway.

I made a U-turn, pulled up slowly beside her and asked if she needed help. She was hours from home and her car had run out of gas. The nearest station was five miles away, and she had no way to get to the gas, physically or financially. I realized both she and her unborn child were in danger lost — in every sense of the word.

The truth is, all too often I get busy with life and neglect to see those who may need a helping hand, a warm hug, a shoulder to cry on or a tank of gas. But if I really want to follow Jesus and make an earthly — and possibly eternal — difference in another person's life, I need to care for those Jesus called the "least of these."

This helpless woman was the "least of these" Jesus mentioned in Matthew 25:44-46. In this passage, Jesus told the crowd a story about a king to teach them the importance of caring for those the world dismissed.

Jesus explained when they cared for others, they were also caring for Him. Their actions to love the "least of these" were equivalent to serving the Savior. The faithful ones who showed compassion and exhibited a love for others were the ones to inherit His kingdom.

Unfortunately, society hasn't changed much. In fact, there are more lost and needy people in the world today than ever, and Jesus' instructions to love the least of these are as important today as they were then.

When we exhibit sacrificial empathy, tenderness, kindness and compassion, His light shines through as we extend to others the grace and mercy He's extended to us.

On this particularly hot day, I paused to help a young woman in need. It did seem like a risky decision; I was late in picking up my daughter. And when I had arrived at her practice with a total stranger in the passenger seat, some people did think I was a little crazy. But God's greater purpose is always worth the sacrifice.

How different might the world be today, if we allowed God's whispers to drown out opinions of naysayers, or voices in our minds telling us not to help those in need? Or when God calls us out of our comfort zones, if we'd put aside our inhibitions and commit to being His hands and feet?

After returning this sweet lady back to her car with a tank full of gas, she waved at me with a big, thankful smile and quietly uttered the words, "God bless you."

But in my heart, I knew He already had.

Lord, give me Your eyes to see those in need and Your heart to reach to out to them. Bless me with the ability to serve You by serving others. Help me develop a heart like Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thought for Today

The desire of love is to give. The desire of lust is to get!

Saturday, October 25, 2014


By Ray Naidoo

"Be vigilant, watch. Your adversary {the} devil as a roaring lion walks about seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)

"My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocence was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt." Daniel 6:22 (KJV)

I feel shame to admit defeat in my life but it has been the story of my life. It is always up and down without any sign of calm ahead. My faith has been sometimes almost non-existent and I question where I am going and where is God.

But the startling revelation in all this is that God loves me but the devil hates me. I am a child of God and in all the struggles I faced, I gave the devil a foothold into my life. He took no time to make himself at home creating chaos. But another startling revelation was that it wasn't all the devil's doing, much of it was me. I moved away from God when things were tough. Then this scripture just kept on playing in my heart. I never thought of these two scriptures together before and how much sense it makes.

The devil is like a roaring lion seeking his prey. When we let go of our Protector, God, we become helpless, we become easy targets. The devil's hunger is never filled until all of God's people are devoured.

God is our refuge and shelter. He protects and provides for our every need. Jesus said that all the power and authority has been given to Him in heaven and earth. The devil has no power over you, no authority over your life. God meets us at our point of weakness while the devil tries to break when we are already down and out.

The devil is like a roaring lion but remember God can shut the mouth of the lion. So take time today and see where you are in your life. Maybe, like me, you need to return to where you are supposed to be...


God does not move away from us, we move away from Him.

Prayer: (Pray with me...)
"Dear Lord, Thank you for your word today. Forgive us, Father, for not holding on to your love in our lives. Help us overcome our difficulties. Shut the mouths of the lions in our lives. Take full control in our lives today. In Jesus' precious name... Amen."

Friday, October 24, 2014

How Do I Trust Again?

by Suzie Eller
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

Years ago, hurtful words from a friend landed in a tender spot in my heart. It was already damaged by a previous incident with her ... and the one before that.  When this friend was frustrated or lost her temper, words just tumbled out. Words that went straight to my vulnerable places.  Each time she said she was sorry, and she meant it.  I knew we could work through it, but part of me wanted to give up on trusting her altogether. Why trust someone who might let you down again?  In fact, why trust at all? Why not just close my heart and keep it safe from any potential harm?

The reality is that people are messy. My friend was a mess. Sometimes I'm a big ol' mess, too. The words my friend spoke hurt and we needed to work through it. Our hearts trust in Him and He helps us.

We need wisdom to know what to say, when to say it and when to hold those words back. God offers that guidance (James 1:5).

We need discernment over what is ours to fix and when to step back as God does His part (Psalm 55:22).

We need to know what to do when someone is destructive or unwilling to change, and how to transfer our trust to God in that hard situation, rather than take matters into our own hands. We can ask for hope and healing in our hearts while God performs His work in someone else's heart.

Our hearts leap for joy, and with a song we praise Him.

Conflicts, difficult conversations or poor behavior can make you want to give up or shut people out completely. Have you been tempted to climb into a cave of isolation?  Do you sense God asking you to trust again? Maybe not even in a specific person, but in Him? In others? In the fact that He's completely with you as you run after His plan for your life?

My friend is still my friend. She's changed a lot in the past few years, and it's delightful to have watched that transformation.  Is she perfect? No, but neither am I. We're two imperfect women whose hearts trust in God.

Dear Lord, someone has hurt my heart and my response has been to hide or build a wall. Thank You for wisdom, compassion and discernment as I trust in You first, and You show me how to trust others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thought for Today
"For years the Bible was a dead book to grits without salt. But after I gave my life to Jesus Christ, it became alive. I saw that the Bible was God's way of talking to me." - Steve Bartkowski, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Gullible Are We?

By Alan Smith

A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, April 26, 1997. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to the alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide." And for plenty of good reasons, since:

1. it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. it is a major component in acid rain
3. it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. accidental inhalation can kill you
5. it contributes to erosion
6. it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew that the chemical was...


The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?" The conclusion is obvious.

Religion is another area where people have a tendency to be gullible. Extreme examples can be found in David Koresh's followers and the Heaven's Gate cult. But it can happen any time we believe someone without checking out God's Word to see if what is being taught is the truth. Faith does not mean blindly accepting whatever anyone (even a preacher) says.

The apostle John warned, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (I John 4:1)

Use God's Word to discern between what is true and what is false. And if you feel like living dangerously today, pour yourself a big tall glass of dihydrogen monoxide!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Time to Do a Little Faith Stretching

Tracie Miles
"And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
I knew the work would be tough, the weather would be hot and the floor I'd sleep on would be hard. But little did I know none of those inconveniences would be the "stretching" part.
Several years ago, I participated in a mission trip to renovate homes of families in need. God planned to stretch me beyond what was comfortable that week, but as it turned out, it wasn't the work or inconveniences that stretched me.
I wasn't stretched as I climbed up a 10-foot ladder to hand someone a heavy can of paint. Or as I sprawled across a noisy air mattress every night — hoping it wouldn't completely deflate before morning. I wasn't stretched as I endured 105-degree temperatures, wearing the required attire of full-length jeans that stuck to my sweaty legs like glue.
I wasn't even stretched taking showers in close proximity to total strangers, separated by only a thin curtain, or when I shared that awkward shower with a large, dead, winged creature lying in the drain.
None of these things were enjoyable, but they weren't really outside of my "comfort zone." Yet when it came time to walk through a local neighborhood, knock on doors and share the Gospel, with the looming fear a door might be slammed in my face (or worse), I felt my faith being stretched.
Looking back now, I realize God was gently pushing me out of my comfort zone into a faith zone. He confronted me with the choice to stretch my faith or play it safe.
It would have been easy to send my work crew down the street without me. I could have stood in the shadows of the big oak trees as others on the team approached the strangers. But God had planted a burning conviction in my heart to trust Him and do some serious stretching. So standing alone on the sidewalk wasn't an option.
I had no idea that by stepping out in faith, I would receive the greatest blessing.
There are countless stories in the Bible of God calling people out of their comfort zones. And with each one, the stretching brought blessings they'd never imagined.
Abraham trusted God for the child he was promised, despite his and his wife's advanced age. His faith-stretching ended with a little baby in his arms named Isaac.
Jesus' disciples feared for their lives when a violent storm threatened to sink their boat. But Peter's faith to step out of the boat at Jesus' invitation resulted in Peter's human feet miraculously walking on water.
Jesus told a crippled man, with muscles weak and atrophied, to get up and walk. The man stretched his faith as he stretched out his legs and walked for the very first time.
And on it goes. A blind man who had faith to believe Jesus could heal, saw Jesus' face with those very eyes. Joshua might have felt ridiculous circling the walls of Jericho seven times, but eventually the walls came crumbling down. Joseph spent more than 10 years in a dark dungeon, but it was his unwavering faith which eventually landed him on the throne.
God calls us all to do some faith stretching now and then. Whether we are called to leave our comfort zones to obey and act, or to rest and trust God during a difficult season of life, He always rewards great faith with wonderful blessings, just as today's key verse promises.
Maybe stepping outside of your comfort zone to obey God seems like too much of a stretch right now. Keep in mind that although it may seem impossible, God will never stretch us beyond what we are capable of in His strength — not ours. And when we are willing to be stretched, blessings begin to flow.
Lord, help me fully trust You with my life and develop a faith that is willing to stretch for Your sake, and mine. Show me how You can use my life for Your good. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Am

            One of the claims of those who deny the deity of Christ is He never made such a claim for Himself. That would be laughable if the ignorance displayed was not so tragic. Scripture abounds with evidences the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, understood Himself to be God. We could go to the many instances, beginning with the event when Jesus was twelve years old, where He identified Himself as the Son of God. In the Temple, where His earthly parents found the missing Jesus, He responded to them saying, “Wist ye not I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)
            Even the Greeks understood that someone who was the offspring of a god must in their very being themselves be a demigod. The big difference between what the Greeks conceived and what Jesus is lies in the fact He is not half god and half man but fully God and fully Man. But it is amazing how this world cannot even stretch as far as the Greeks when it comes to considering Jesus. They usually choose to deny His claim to being the Son of God, but my point here is what Jesus said of Himself.
            In the Gospel of John, the inspired writer took pleasure in utilizing the term “I am” in the statements of Christ. But the most telling one is where Jesus was conversing  with the Jews who asked Him “Art thou greater than our father Abraham…?” (8:53a) Among other things Jesus told them, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and was glad. (66) This really set them back on their feet and when they sought to debate the issue the Lord said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (58b) These people then sought to stone Jesus because they understood He was saying that He was the God who sent Moses to free them in Egypt identifying Himself to the Children of Israel as the great I AM. (59) He is God in the flesh!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Stranger on the Bench

Chrystal Evans Hurst

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
A few years ago, my family took a road trip to Baltimore to visit my grandparents.
We never visit the city without making a trip to the Inner Harbor. It's something my parents did with me and I have great memories of it, so it's something I love to do with my kids.
This area is a very popular tourist attraction. It's also an area where lots of local folks from many different walks of life hang out.
On this particular day, we were walking along the main thoroughfare. I stopped for a bit to glance in the window at one of the stores. I turned my eye every few seconds or so to make sure my son was still chasing birds along the sidewalk in an attempt to scare them away.
After just a few moments, I turned to check and noticed that he was no longer chasing the birds. Rather, he was standing next to a park bench, seemingly just looking at the birds — or so I thought.
As I walked a little closer to him, I realized that he was talking ... to the homeless man lying on the park bench.
For a moment, my heart skipped a beat. My son was talking to a stranger. And based on the way this stranger was reclining on the bench, I wasn't sure if he was well.
I heard my son say, "Hi! Are you okay, sir?
"Do you need some water? Are you hungry?"
And then my heart lurched forward outside my body when I heard my son say, "Can I pray for you?"
I watched from a short distance.
The man mumbled something unintelligible to me and then my son walked away.
I stood convicted.
When was the last time I had taken the time to notice someone, right in front of me, and ask what needs they had that I could meet?
When was the last time I had offered the most basic human needs, water and food, to someone who wasn't a part of my church, neighborhood or social sphere of connection?
When was the last time I had offered a stranger my prayers?
Just because.
Our key verse today makes it clear we are to show hospitality to people — even the ones we don't know.
It's so easy to get caught up in our jobs, churches, community affairs and being nice to people we know or those who are easy to be nice to that we forget the most basic kindness — showing hospitality to a stranger.
The world is full of hurting people. People you and I can touch with a kind word, a warm smile, a hot meal or a gentle touch.
The world is full of people who would be eternally grateful if someone just stopped and prayed for them.
When was the last time you offered a stranger a smile, a prayer, a cool drink or a helping hand?
I'm sad to say I hadn't even noticed that man laying on the bench ... and even if I had, I can't say I would have stopped to inquire how I might show him a bit of hospitality, grace or understanding.
I can't say I would have stopped to pray for him.
I can't say I would have stopped to show him love.
My son helped me remember that the most simple, basic actions can sometimes mean the most.
He helped me remember that showing love to others doesn't need to be complex.
He helped me remember I should not let fear, busyness or lack of understanding stop me from giving the most important gift of all to another ...
And isn't that the point? That the world would know we are Christians by our love?
Father God, forgive me for how I sometimes forget to love others, especially strangers, in simple ways that honor You. Help me recognize opportunities to share the love You have given me with someone else who needs to feel Your love. Allow me to be Your hands and Your feet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


"Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”"
John 10:9, NKJV

This year has been a good one for butterflies. The conditions have obviously been right for them, and I have enjoyed seeing many in the local countryside and in our garden. However, occasionally they’ve come into the house through open doors or windows and I’ve tried to help them escape. On one particular occasion I had opened every window in the room and was trying to encourage a butterfly to fly towards the open window that would bring freedom. However, it continually seemed to fly in the opposite direction, or to choose the windows that were closed, fluttering against the glass in a futile attempt to reach the sunlight. As I watched with mounting frustration, I felt God saying that this was like many of His people.

In Christ we have a way to freedom and an open door to all of God’s blessings and provision in our lives. Jesus tells us that He Himself is The Door (John 10:9), and He’s also the Light of the World (John 8:12). However, like the butterfly, some people seem intent on going in the opposite direction, turning their back on the way to true release, or they’re drawn to things that seem attractive but which don’t bring freedom and healing. Jesus is the only way to salvation, which includes healing and wholeness. He tells us to: ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it’ (Matthew 7:13-14).

We’re told in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that: ‘Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light’. Some of the things he uses to try to tempt and lure people down the wrong path can appear to be full of light and truth – for instance some alternative medical practices or methods of healing. If we don’t know the ‘real thing’ well enough we can easily be drawn to these, but, like the butterfly, we may then find the way to true freedom blocked, and we may become damaged in the process.

Discernment is something that every believer should be asking God for so that we aren’t led astray down false avenues. It’s one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10). We need to get to know our God better, and be rooted and grounded in His Word, so that any false ways that don’t lead to the life that Jesus promises us will immediately jar in our spirits. Let’s look to Jesus alone as the Door and the Light of the World, and keep asking Him to lead us and to keep us on the right path!

Prayer: Lord, thank You that Jesus is the way that leads to salvation and freedom. Please give me increasing discernment that will alert me to every wrong path and will keep me on the way that leads to life. Amen.

Today's Writer : Jilly Lyon Taylor

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Get to know God

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2.

All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights:
Life, liberty, and longing for happiness.

If the pursuit of happiness is your primary goal, you'll never find it.

Happiness is a by-product of being in God's will-
- and making the most of your gifts and talents.

The pursuit of happiness is a selfish thing!
And selfishness never leads to happiness.

Get to know God personally and begin to do His will.
Live in a right relationship with Him and your fellow man.

Develop the gifts and abilities He's given you for His glory and for service to those you meet.
In the process, you may discover happiness.

But pursuing happiness, well, you'll never find it that way.
Pursue God in Christ, and happiness results!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Devil Is Real

...that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world. Revelation 12:9

In his recent newspaper column, "My Answer," evangelist Billy Graham responded to a critic who belittled the biblical teaching of Satan by calling the devil "some imaginary supernatural being." Graham pointed out that the Bible clearly teaches the devil is real and far more powerful than most of us realize. "Remember," he said, "Satan is for death, not life; chaos, not order; despair, not hope." Jesus certainly believed the devil was real; He battled him on the Mount of Temptation. Peter believed in the reality of Satan, for he called him "a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). 2:11).

Paul warned about the devil, telling us not to be ignorant of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Satan is real; he is dangerous and hungry for power. We need to be aware of his plans and reject his attempts to confuse us. The best way to resist the devil is by drawing near to Christ. Jesus is Victor. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is our Triumph today and forever.

Yes, Satan is real, but so is Christ, and someday Satan will be defeated and Christ will rule forever. Don't be deceived, but open your heart and mind to Jesus Christ, and put your life into His hands. Billy Graham

Editor's Note:
Seems I missed Thursday and Friday... Wife has been sick and I have been waiting on her, I thought I had my posting through Monday... Taking care of that now, just in case...