Archive for the ‘January 2011’ Category

He Will Answer

I was feeling burdened today by a thousand cares and simply prayed for God to comfort and encourage me, and He answered. He will answer you, too.

He said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). It is not my job to keep my life together, for He holds all things together (Col. 1:17). It is not my job to meet my own needs, but to seek first His Kingdom and He will (Matt. 6:33) and not to worry about my life, because He will surely take care of me (Matt. 6:25-26).

He said that though I have not passed this way before, He has passed this way before me. I say like Moses, “If your Presence does not go with me, do not send me up from here.” And He replies, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exod. 33:14-15).

We need Thee every hour, God. We need You now more than ever. The more of ourselves we know, the more of You we know we need.

The LORD gives strength to His people;
the LORD blesses His people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

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Counting the Cost

The question, “What is the cost of your ministry?” is still as fresh in my head since Tuesday’s study, as if I was just asked.. I remember Paul. Stephen. John. Peter. And of course they are among thousands upon thousands of those who suffered and are suffering for the sake of the gospel. Jesus above all.

My flesh answers too much, but my spirit.. not near enough. Not that I would go seek out a cost, but to seek God’s Kingdom despite the cost. Help me, Lord.

One thing I can do in this moment is “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).

Specifically remembering these in prayer…

I hurt for them, yet am mysteriously envious of them.. that they get to fellowship with Christ in suffering in a way I haven’t experienced. That their faith is proven genuine. That their witness is so authentic. Praise God for the bravery of the saints and the example they set.

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Love, be devoted to, honor, live in harmony, don’t judge, accept, instruct, greet, agree with, serve, be kind and compassionate to, speak to, submit to, teach and admonish, encourage, don’t slander, offer hospitality, and spur one another on to love and good deeds.

Jesus prayed, “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23

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“Return to Me”

Lately I’ve spent most of my time in the New Testament, but today found myself flipping through Isaiah and then read the first 4 chapters of Jeremiah and they are really heart-wrenching…

This letter was inspired by my reading.

My beloved,

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday and you were like a good dream from which I desperately did not want to wake. Instantly I could feel my heart pounding as if it beat for nothing else. Like a fool in love I put myself in your hands regardless of the cost. Even if you were to hurt me. Because I knew loving you would be worth it.

I did everything I could think to make you mine. And when you looked into my eyes like there was no such thing as time I was already yours forever. Despite all that I had, you were my greatest treasure. And to gain you… in a second I would lose it all. I’d become nothing just to prove my love. So you’d believe that you mean everything to me.

I still cherish the moment you realized how wide my arms would open to measure my heart for you. Oh, how your eyes told me what your words could not when you saw your name written with my blood. We cried and I saved your sweet tears in a bottle as mine fell to the bitter ground. You never knew how many lifetimes I waited to give my life to you.

However great the pain, it was bittersweet because of your face…

Yet now greater is the ache that still remains after watching you walk away. Without a reason you have forsaken me, my bride. Have I failed to satisfy? Who has led you astray? Have I not loved you with enough blood? Yet you seek other loves. I am a husband denied by his faithless bride.

The memory of your smile as you gazed into my eyes is as sharp as a knife when it comes to mind. How could you be so blind as to seek joy in another? Deceived have you been to pursue a lover who will only abuse you like a prostitute. How could you exchange my love for such hate? How could you trade the truth for lies? Have I not proven myself with my life? Yet you follow false promises as if I do not exist.

Still my love will remain, for I am ever faithful. Return, and I will be merciful. Only acknowledge what you have done and I will take you home. I will save you from these enemies if you will only come with me. I will redeem whatever they steal. I will renew the life in you no matter what they do. Yes, no matter what, you can count on my love. If only you will return, oh my bride, return to me tonight.

Forever and always,
Your Love

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Hebrews 13:5-6 (Amplified Bible)

5Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

6So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?

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Help me to see people like You do. To see their hearts. To see not only who they are but who they could be. To believe and dream for them. To intercede for them even as You plead for me.

Help me to be bold for others. To speak victory over their fears. To be strong for them where they are weak, like Your Spirit does for me. To fight their enemies on my knees.

Help me to hear what their words are unable to tell and answer their unspoken questions. To preach redemption over their pasts. To dry the traces of tears on their faces.

Help me to love them with my own sweat and blood. To bind wounds even when it means feeling the pain. To enter their prisons and break their chains.

Help me to feel people’s needs and give them real food to eat. To care as if I myself were there. To bear their burdens as a true companion. To sit with them in the dark and hold their broken hearts.

Christ in me, please be to a greater degree. Help me cry out their name to You no matter the tears it takes. Help me proclaim Your name to them because You are mighty to save. Help me to take hold of them with Your nail scarred hands. To clothe them in Your beautiful robes. To cleanse them in Your precious blood. To know Your grace in me is enough.

If I am called to be Your body on earth, help me to live to show the world what they’re worth.

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Is there an area of your life in which you feel paralyzed to face? Where fear fills you to the point you will not move ahead?

I was encouraged to remember Mark 2:1-12 where Jesus heals the paralytic.

First, the paralytic had friends around him that brought him to Jesus. Do we surround ourselves with even a handful of friends who will bring us to Jesus? Who will intercede for us? Who will strengthen our faith in Him and hold out hope for us? Who will draw us closer to Him? It is amazing to read the story and see that Jesus healed the paralytic because of the faith of his friends. Are there any friends you can ask to have faith for you?

Second, do I believe Jesus is concerned with healing me, even me, despite the crowd? Sometimes it is easier to believe in His love for everyone else, but consider how moved He was by the faith that did whatever it took to be near the Healer. He was pleased to heal, and He is pleased to heal you, even you.

Third, do you feel you do not deserve to be healed because of sin? Listen to Him say to you, “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10). He wants you to know as surely as you know He is God, for “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103:10).

Finally, Jesus says, “I tell you, get up.” (v. 11) God did His part, which was impossible for the paralytic, and now it was up to the man to do his part, which was simply to get up. God only asks us to do the simple part, for He has already done what was impossible for us. He knows we are but dust, and for what we cannot do we must trust in what He has already done.

If Jesus has already brought us from death to life, He can surely raise us up from the places we feel stuck.

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There are certain desires in every human heart that when unfulfilled turn to deep longings and inward groaning. They are defined by Mike Bickle in his book called “The Seven Longings of the Human Heart” and summarized in this article.

He says they are..
1. The longing for assurance that we are loved.
2. The longing for enjoyment.
3. The longing to be beautiful.
4. The longing to be great.
5. The longing for intimacy without shame.
6. The longing to be wholehearted and passionate.
7. The longing to make a deep and lasting impact.

These are deep enough to make us desperate, and the deprivation of these desires cause heart ache and heart break and may even lead people to seek death for relief. For without these, it seems life has no meaning.

Though many in the world have given up on satisfying these longings to the depth which they were intended to be met, most don’t choose immediate death as relief, but settle for a secondary existence in doing what they can with what they have. Just like when we are craving a good steak dinner but only have hamburger helper in our cabinet, the world desires love, joy, peace, beauty, significance, intimacy, and passion and only have family, education, work, sex, fame, power, entertainment, and drugs in which to seek fulfillment. We can become so convinced that doing what we can with what we have is the only way to live, that settling becomes our definition of happiness. Yet how many “happy” people will go to bed empty tonight?

How many would say they are content with crumbs on the floor, while they can’t help but smell the real feast from the table above? The tragedy would be for these beggars to stop begging. To deny what they are sensing because it is too painful to go on wanting. To lower their expectations in order to avoid disappointment. Yet to the extent we cannot feel hungry for something, we will not feel satisfied by it. What good is Prince Charming to a girl who has stopped believing in true love?

Despite how we feel, our longings are not a curse, but a blessing that makes fulfillment possible.

Though Christians see heaven as the table above and Jesus as the real feast, we daily endure the heartache of these longings. Maybe even to a deeper degree. Don’t you feel most hungry when you have identified (and even tasted before) the food which can feed you? Don’t you experience the deepest disappointment when you have the highest expectations? A single girl’s heart can ache for a Prince Charming, but a princess in love with him? Her heart will break in his absence.

Similarly, we who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8) have become ruined for the temporary pleasures of this world. The bride of Christ longs for Him with a heart that has been conquered by Him. We hunger for heaven as those who belong there and for moments have been there. Yet heaven is not here in full. We know Jesus as our bread and water of life, yet only in part. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

What a paradox… Jesus sustains us, yet we long for Him. David the Psalmist expressed it well. On one hand he wrote fulfilled, “You satisfy me more than the richest feast” (Ps. 63:5). Yet on the other hand he wrote in longing, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you… I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!” (Ps. 63:1-3). “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD…” (Psalm 27:4). “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Ps. 16:11). “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Ps. 42:1).

If this world is all there is, I can see why people would make the best of it and strive to lower their expectations accordingly. But if there is more to this world than meets the eye, which everything inside of us seems to argue, then we have hope in being fulfilled after all. Our longings are not merely a waste of time and energy. On the contrary, our desire for heaven will deepen our satisfaction of it. That’s our hope. And our faith is the confident anticipation of it. “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor. 5:2).

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”
(1 Cor. 2:9)

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two enemies overcome

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the forces that are against us: the devil and our flesh. Two verses really encouraged me today and give us hope for both. “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20).

When we feel defeated by outside enemy threats, we can be confident in the promise that “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18) so “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16).

When we feel discouraged by inside forces like thoughts, temptations, habits, or emotions, we can “preach to ourselves” like David did in the Psalms, and “David strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (1 Sam. 30:6). Proclaim the gospel of hope over your soul, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…” (Ps. 43:5) and claim God’s promises for your life, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13). “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ…” (2 Cor. 1:20).

Remembering in faith what Jesus has done and can do for us, instead of dwelling on what we can do or have done, brings us hope and is the way we overcome!

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I noticed in 1 John 3 that the word “know” is used about 15 times. This chapter was encouraging to read because it reaffirms the confidence we should have in our faith:

-we KNOW that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (v. 2)
-But you KNOW that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. (v. 3)
-This is how we KNOW who the children of God are… (v. 10)
-We KNOW that we have passed from death to life… (v. 14)
-This is how we KNOW what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (v. 16)
-This is how we KNOW that we belong to the truth (v. 19)
-we KNOW that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (v. 20)
-And this is how we KNOW that he lives in us: We KNOW it by the Spirit he gave us. (v. 24)

Believe the Word not as if you only hope it to be true, but that you certainly know it to be. Speak of it because you are sure of it. Dare to share it because you are convinced. Ironically, the more confident you are in the Truth, the more open you are to questions and doubts that arise, because the answers will only serve as greater evidence for what we KNOW is true.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Heb. 10:35-36).

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