What If?

WHAT IF … God really took the time to think about and plan for every detail about you before He created you?

For example, “I’m going to make your eyes a beautiful green, and not just because your Mom or Dad has green eyes.”

No, He decides He wants your eyes to be green!

WHAT IF … He thought out and He planned every detail of your being; your personality, your talents and abilities?

And then He looked at His creation and said, “I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

WHAT IF … God knew there was going to be trouble in your life, hardships, pain, sadness … and He was reaching down with His loving hand to lead you to the other side?

But You never looked up. You walked the other way. You were angry at Him and you refused His loving hand.

And yet, He spoke once again, “But I LOVE YOU. I CREATED YOU, and I have a GREAT and AWESOME plan for your life.”

WHAT IF … you embraced His love and decided to trust Him?

WHAT IF … God caught every tear you cried and saved them in a bottle…

And because He is God, He turned those tears into a sweet perfume of His presence that He pours over your wounded heart and turns it into joy!

WHAT IF … you embraced His presence to heal your heart?

WHAT IF … God can read your mind and He knows the intentions of your heart, and your mind is full of bad thoughts like FEAR, SELF-HATRED, JEALOUSY, ANGER, LUST…?

And God says, “That’s not what I created your mind for. Think on ME. I can give you peace and contentment if you dwell on what is good, pure and lovely…

WHAT IF … God is looking at you right now and He sees your sickness and He sees your pain and He says, “I LOVE YOU My child. I want you to be well. I am your healer. I created you to be whole.

WHAT IF … you choose to believe Him and you resist the lies, your old ways of thinking and your doubts? What if you change your perspective and you see and embrace His love tonight?

WHAT IF … you have worked and worked to do good things to win God’s approval or His love? But you don’t think you’ll ever measure up … you must keep working hard because you think it’s the only way God will save you and accept you.

WHAT IF … God is saying to you right now, “There is nothing you can do to make Me love you more or make Me love you less I love you. You are saved by accepting the GRACE of My Son Jesus and His shed blood to cover ALL of your sins.”

WHAT IF … you accept this fact that God isn’t looking for your works to gain His approval but He is looking for you to surrender your heart; for you to allow His LOVE to fill you and cleanse you?

So you can know YOU ARE ACCEPTED and LOVED by Him!

His love is PERFECT
His love is PURE
His love is CONSTANT
His love is HERE for you RIGHT NOW

Scripture Verses to support these words:
Isaiah 44:2 “…the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb…”
Psalm 139:13 “For You formed my inward parts…”
Genesis 1:31 “…God saw everything that He made…it was very good.”
John 16:33b “In the world you will have tribulation…”
Isaiah 54:17 “…no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “…I have plans for you…for wholeness and not for evil.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…He will make straight your paths…”
Psalm 56:8 “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle.”
Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for my mourning into dancing…”
Psalm 3:3 “…You are a shield about me…the lifter of my head.”
Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord…has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.”
Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and active…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Matthew 9:4 “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts…”
Philippians 4:8 “…whatever is true…just..pure…lovely… commendable… think about these things.”
Matthew 9:35 “And Jesus went throughout all the cities…proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”
Isaiah 53:5 “…and by His (Jesus’) stripes (wounds) we are healed.”
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Galatians 2:16 “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 1:4-8 “…even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:4-10 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the GREAT love with which He loved us…made us alive together with Christ…”

Dear Father,
I want to make my “what if” into “I will.” I can see by reading your Holy Word that You do love me and You do have so much for me, but I must give to you my heart. Thank You Lord Jesus for what You did for me in suffering and dying for my sins and for my sicknesses. I give You my whole heart right now. Take me and cleanse me and bring me into Your Kingdom. I want to live for You.
Amen

*Most Scripture references are from the English Standard Version; a few are from the New King James Version.

Proclamations for the New Year

Well, it’s a new year and most people make a list of Resolutions, usually regarding personal behaviors they want to change. Webster’s Dictionary defines resolution as: “the act of resolving or determining, as upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc; Firm determination; a solution or explanation, as of a problem.” We make a Resolution to change some form of behavior or bad habit we’re really not happy about. How many of these behavioral changes have required our “firm determination” to overcome? And how many Resolutions have we failed to keep in the past, only to make the same Resolutions for the next year, hoping to finally “master and conquer” our problem. The cycle leaves us discouraged by the failure and defeat of it all.

But we who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ have a greater power than just our “firm determination” to help us succeed with necessary changes in our lives. We have His Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and our faith. I John 5:4-5 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Below is a list of Resolutions to “proclaim and confess.” As you agree with God’s Word and submit to His lordship in your life, He will help you with the changes you desire. Resist and cast off the fear of failure, the fear that it’s “too hard,” and the fear that you will never change. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Step 1: We ask God to help us and believe that He will!
Step 2: We step out in faith with our actions, for faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)

Through the Bible, God’s Word, we have access to the wisdom, knowledge and understanding which we need every day in this world. Change is not always instantaneous. Some changes take time, and in the process we learn patience and perseverance. Remember that every one of the eleven disciples (excluding Judas/the twelfth) were overcomers. You can be an overcomer too! God WANTS you to be an overcomer, and He is here to help you in every way to make it your new reality.

“Proclamations For This Year”

I ask for God’s help to be free from the habit of___________!
I realize this is not pleasing to God and nothing should have power over me but God.

I choose to not give in to negativity. Instead, I will recognize all that I have to be thankful for, and in my thoughts and words I will focus on the positive.

I will be a giver this year. I will not be stingy and hoard my money, for God loves a cheerful giver.

I will not allow myself to speak the words of the enemy. I will give him NO place in my life. Instead, I will speak words that are in line with God’s Word and what He will agree with.

I will not allow people in my life who bring me down and lead me away from God. I will trust God to bring good friends to me and I will make wise choices concerning friends and relationships.

I will read the Bible consistently and I will meditate on the Word of God every day. For this will help me to keep the right perspective and will help me break free from___________.

I will spend time in prayer every day, bringing my requests to God and giving Him my burdens and anxieties. I choose to not worry or be afraid, but instead I choose to trust in my Lord.

I will put others before myself in all circumstances, for this is pleasing to God.

I will be careful what I say and be mindful of others’ feelings.

I will ask God to show me kind things I can do for others just to bless them and to be a blessing.

I will plan my time wisely so I won’t be late to work, appointments, meetings, etc.

I will say “I love you” to my spouse, children and family every day.

I am trusting God for healing of____________. For Jesus bore all of my sicknesses and diseases. By His stripes I am healed. It is His desire that I be healthy.

I seek more of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of God, that I may be empowered to be all that God wants me to be.

I proclaim and declare that this is my time for a breakthrough, to become what God wants me to become. I will not give in to discouragement, for some changes take time. Instead, I will persevere, trusting the Lord for the strength I need.

Scriptures to Read for Encouragement:

I John 5:13-15 Ask according to His will…

I John 4:4 Greater is He who is in you…

I John 3:16-20 How we know love…

I Peter 5:7-9 Cast all anxieties on Him…

2 Peter 1:5-9 Goodness, knowledge, self-control…

2 Corinthians 6:14 Unequally yoked…

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 God loves a cheerful giver…

Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice; Think on these things…

Galatians 3:13 Expect God’s blessings…

2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 He guards you against the evil one…

Galatians 2:20 Christ living in me…

Galatians 5:13 Called to freedom…

Isaiah 53:4-5 By His stripes we are healed (The Greek says “sicknesses and diseases” rather than “infirmities and sorrows”)

Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I realize my weaknesses and that I am helpless to change on my own. But You are with me and in me. I look to You for strength and power to change. I want to please You in all that I say and do. I believe You have SO much more for me and I don’t want to miss any of it. My obedience matters. I choose to obey Your Word, and as I do, my confidence will grow. Forgive me for giving up in the past; for taking the easier way. I realize that continuing my poor behaviors and bad habits falls short of the good plans you have for me. Thank you for those good plans! I am now stepping into those plans with Your grace and help. I look forward to this journey with You, my journey for change.

In Jesus Mighty Name I pray,

Amen

P.S. If the prospect of sudden change seems overwhelming to you, try focusing on just a couple of these proclamations at a time. When you see progress in those areas, add additional proclamations to your efforts.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town?

When you were a child, as Christmas approached, your parents may have said something like this to you: “You had better be GOOD, or Santa isn’t going to bring you any presents!” I know mine did. Even though our parents knew they would still give us gifts, the myth of Santa gave them a kind of leverage they used to influence us to be extra good, in case our bad behavior, like fighting with our siblings, might ruin the happiness Christmas was supposed to bring.

A young child’s mind is very impressionable. Even at ages 4, 5 and 6 we have already begun forming mindsets based on our experiences and what we have heard from adults. Much of our belief system is built upon those early experiences; both good and bad.

How many of us have grown up to believe that God must be like Santa Claus? You may have never put the two together as I am suggesting, but I hope you will consider the following observations and examine your own belief system for possible misconceptions about God.

Here is a song almost every child in America has sung many times, not to mention the countless times they’ve heard it on T.V. and radio. Let’s consider this song line by line and then ask some questions:

“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”

You better watch out, you better not cry,
You better not pout, I’m telling you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town!

Do you believe that God is someone you’d better “watch out for?” You know, in case you haven’t behaved yourself very well? And what about crying and pouting? Do you think God is angry if you cry or pout? Even adults cry and pout sometimes and feel sorry for themselves. Does God turn away and tell us, “Grow up! Get over it?” Is God really that harsh and insensitive? I say He’s not, and so does the Bible! “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are!” (I John 3:1a) “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

He’s making a list and checking it twice,
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town!

Wow! Does God keep a list of all we’ve done? And if we’ve been bad does He use it against us and keep good things from us? Well, yes He knows everything about us: our past, present and future. Most people believe God is capable of this. But God’s reason for keeping track of everything isn’t to see if we’re being good or bad and to knock us over the head if we mess up. If we are in Christ, if He is the Lord of our life, He has cleansed us and we are in His righteousness. Yes, we still mess up and fall short most every day, but His grace is greater! “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23). And if that wasn’t enough, consider Psalms 103:12: “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

Now what about the line, “Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice?” By this the child is convinced that he or she must be good enough (perfect?) in order to receive gifts for Christmas. The great news about being a believer in Christ and living for Him is that God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He first loved us, so that is why we are able to love Him (I John 4:19).

But what about this: If we have been a believer for quite some time, we know we are to please God and not sin. But when we do sin, is God mad at us? Will He not forgive us? Will He turn away and not give anything good to us if we’re not perfect? I John 1:9 assures us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we have hurt another person or have sinned against them we need to follow James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

The Law given to Moses and the Israelites, as recorded in the book of Leviticus, was meant to reveal to the people just how far short they had fallen from the Lord’s standards. The law required the sacrifice of goats, sheep and bulls, so that the shed blood would atone for the people’s sins. Yet, because of their selfish natures, the people were still unable to keep God’s commandments. So God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the perfect atoning sacrifice for all of mankind, that whoever would believe in Christ as Savior would not die eternal death, but would be saved and have eternal life (John 3:16). God doesn’t force anyone to believe in Jesus. He leaves it up to each of us, individually, to choose to believe and follow Him, and to accept the shed blood of Christ as the atonement for our sins. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

The next few lines of the song read:

He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
He knows if you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

Yes it is true that God sees us when we’re sleeping and He knows when we’re awake. No human person is capable of doing this, only God is. He is omnipresent (always present) and omniscient (all-knowing). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Psalm 15:3). The message of the Santa Claus song is that you had better be good so you can get good things from a man who comes to your house once a year! But when we have repented of our sins and accepted Christ as our Savior, we can rest assured that as God sees us and knows us, we can feel protected and safe in His presence. Not judged and condemned or in fear that we’ll not receive good things from Him because He’s angry at our behavior. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). If we decide to sin and behave in rebellion toward God, we leave ourselves open to the influence of the devil. God sees all of this too, but He leaves us with the choice to follow Him or our own selfish desires.

It is so wonderful how His Holy Spirit reveals truth to us. As we seek Him, He is faithful to transform our hearts, so our desires become His desires, and we find ourselves wanting to do good and to be like Him. And with the help of the Holy Spirit we can become all that God desires for us to be. He longs to help us; not to criticize and judge us.

Have you seen any similarities between your faith walk and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”? Deep down inside, do you really trust God to be for you and to be there to help you? If not, pray that the Lord will help you replace your wrong beliefs with His truth: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

The Christian life is a journey. It is a mountain climbing, valley walking, river crossing journey in which we must learn to depend on God and not ourselves. When we mess up we must turn to God and not away from Him, because He loves us and wants to help us get back on His path. And He wants us to experience His love. Why? So we can know His love is always there and will never fail us, and so we can love others as He loves us. “. . .God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4:9-11).

The song ends by repeating the first verse again, “You better watch out.” Do we need to watch out for God? Yes, but not because He wants to punish us. We should watch out for Christ’s return, when He will come to receive his Bride, that is, those who accept Him as Savior and truly follow Him. The Bible says that He will return in the clouds and take us to be with Him forever. “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens” (Mark 13:26-27).  We are to watch and be ready! “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).

Let’s Pray:
Dear God,

I know that I haven’t been perfect, but your Word says that You love me anyway. Forgive me for relying on my own efforts and going my own way. I ask that you help me to step down from the throne of my life and to give You complete control. Please come into my heart and make me new. Help me to see You as the loving Father that You are and help me to then love others as You love me. Thank You that I now see that You are not to be compared to Santa Claus, or to any other man. You are God and You are always with me, guiding me, revealing truth to me and helping me to be transformed into your very likeness. Thank You for being My Lord and Savior!

Amen

All scripture references are from the English Standard Version

The Great Exchange

At the October CityPrayz event I performed a skit titled, “The Great Exchange: Exchanging your baggage for God’s luggage.” We received a lot of positive comments about the skit, and as I was praying concerning this devotional, I sensed God leading me to reiterate its message:

Most everyone I know can name something about themselves that they would like to change but have felt powerless to do so. In my own life, I have discovered that changing something that has been part of me for a significant length of time takes a process: a series of steps required to move from where I am now to where I want to be, or more importantly, to where God wants me to be. I am amazed every day, as I walk this journey with the Lord, at how great His love is for me, for all of us. He loves us the way we are, and He loves us so much He wants to transform us into what He knows we can be. And He has some pretty good ideas for each one of us!

Is it true that we all have baggage? Can this baggage be keeping us from the best God has for us? Can it hinder us from truly changing for the better? I say, most emphatically, YES!

God wants to take us from a mindset of unbelief to a mindset of total faith: that is, fully trusting who He is and trusting Him for our lives and for our future. He says to you, “I know the plans I have for you and they are GOOD.” (Jeremiah 29:11) You have a future and a hope in Christ. He works from your present to your future, not your past to your present. If you choose to live from your present to your past, you’re going to miss so much of who God is. All of us come into a relationship with God carrying baggage from our past. What is this baggage?

Hurts and wounds
Low self-esteem
Sins that have scarred your mind and heart
Abuses
Anger you feel justified in harboring (grudges)
Bitterness
Jealousy
Rejection
Hatred
Negative pronouncements about what life has taught you
Condemnation
Guilt
Shame

You can be locked into a present-past lifestyle and a present-past perception that says, “Nothing’s going to change, nothing’s going to work for me.” You will notice that many of your current experiences come from your past in constant replays. If you live with this mindset, you are almost guaranteed your past will repeat itself again and again. Why is this? Because what you focus on keeps coming back again and again. If your expectations come from your history, then you are locked into that history. What is it that you doubt about God that keeps you focused on the negative and trapped in your old ways? What is it that you do not understand about God because your vision of yourself is distorted by your past? Many people have lived for too long in this mindset. The enemy, Satan, wants to keep us trapped in defeat, negativity and fear. But God doesn’t!

When we are “in Christ,” old things will pass away and all things become new. (II Corinthians 5:17) This doesn’t happen instantly, but the transformation can begin when we come to understand that, regarding anything we cling to that keeps us in bondage, God is constantly saying, “LET IT GO!” Let it go and let Him replace it with something wonderful that He has always intended for you to have.

A beautiful thing about the cross is that it represents our deliverance from the bondage of present-past thinking. Part of dying to “self” is the crucifixion of the thought patterns and behaviors that we really don’t like but can’t seem to escape. Allow those parts of you that are governed by your past to be crucified with Christ. God is our present and our future. The Lord wants to take us from our current life with Him to the future He desires for us. Walking with the Spirit means letting go of your “baggage,” the things that keep you from the best He has for you.

How much of your daily time is spent brooding over your past, dreading your future, and as a result, failing to enjoy the present? When I was first asked to contemplate this question, I realized that most of my life was spent dwelling on my past (the negative things) and worrying about my future because I was sure my past would keep repeating itself. But I can honestly tell you that I have gone through the processes of getting out of that mindset and I now walk in the freedom of trusting God, enjoying my life and living with a hopeful expectation of my future. I know this change is possible and it is crucial for God’s people to be set free.

Too often, we carry the hurtful words of others in our memories; words that make us feel worthless, useless, with no value, or ridden with fear. Our memories are full of pain or abuse, guilt or humiliation. God says to you, “I don’t want those things in your head. I don’t want them in your life. I don’t want them to rule you. It is time to let them go.” Realize that Jesus came to give you newness of life and freedom from your past. Yes, our past happened, and we can’t actually erase it from our memory, but we can let it go and give it to God. And when we do, it loses its power over us as we walk in the grace and love our heavenly Father is bestowing upon us.

Be comforted by these words: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Those are His words of promise to us! When you are in the midst of crisis and turmoil, when your life has been turned upside down, that is the very best time to turn to God, because it is when we have come to the end of ourselves that we are most willing to fully trust in Him. At those times, when He truly has our attention, He may be able to bless us in ways that we might ordinarily not allow when things are going well. Too often, it is only in those times of great pain and misery that we are desperate enough to look beyond ourselves, to ask “What is really going on here? What can I do to change my terrible circumstances?” God wants to help you see those things that hold you in bondage and are not pleasing to Him. He will gladly take them from you. He is always there, always present, and always able to help you “let these things go.”

Unless your identity comes from the Lord, you’ve got a false identity. You are not living from the place of truth. For God is truth and He will restore your true identity. All that baggage we carry becomes our identity, and the devil does everything he can to keep us trapped in that false identity. But as we give our baggage to God, we find that we now have room for His luggage. He is saying, “You won’t need this baggage for where we are going, so can I have it? I have plans for you, I have places to take you, but in order for you to be that person you have to give me your baggage. I can then enable you to become the person I created you to be.” The Holy Spirit will point to those things that He wants you to let go of, to exchange for the gifts He has for you in return. What are these gifts He gives in exchange? Let’s call them “God’s luggage:”

Peace
Joy
Love
Faith
Patience
Confidence
Assurance
A joyful, confident expectation of good
Enjoyment of life
Hope
Restoration

It is about “The Great Exchange,” where God will love you through the process of change, taking your earthly baggage and giving you his heavenly luggage. God loves it when we see Him for who He is and walk daily in the relationship He has always longed to have with us. As we follow in His footsteps, we walk boldly into the future with hope, faith and confidence.

Dear Jesus, my Lord and Savior,

Thank you for giving me the knowledge of “The Great Exchange.” I am so tired of carrying this baggage. I have been afraid to let these things go, but I am willing to give these things to You because You know what is best for me. I long for the new luggage you give for my journey with You. Please help me to submit daily to your transforming power. Thank you for Your unfailing love and for the good future You have in store for me.

In Jesus Holy name, Amen.

*You may find it helpful to write a list of the things you need to surrender to God and the things He will give you in exchange, and then meditate on those good things He wants to give you.

More Scripture Verses:

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

I John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I John 5:4-5 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

All scripture references are from the English Standard Version.

Let Go!

Whether or not we are aware of it, our childhood has a powerful impact on who we are and how we view life. Childhood wounds can affect us in both positive and negative ways, and can be a significant influence in our choices, decisions, goals and aspirations. Wounds that are left unhealed can cause a person to become excessively controlling or passive. For some of us, the struggles with our past have driven us to God: to the realization that we desperately need Him and want His help. Yet even after giving our lives to Christ, many of us struggle to fully trust Him and yield control of our lives to Him.

I learned the phrase many years ago, “Let go and let God.” It’s so simple to say, but why is it so hard for us to do? To truly let go and let God? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) reminds us. Most of us have experienced a violation of our trust by another person, and the pain of such an experience can make it very difficult to ever trust again. If we can’t trust people how can we trust God? Does God want us to trust Him? Absolutely! Does God understand the hurts from our past? Absolutely! He wants to heal our hearts so we can be all that He has created us to be. But how do we get there?

Part of this struggle is our own personal battle with our “human nature” which is actually our “sin nature.” We can all relate to what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter seven: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (verse 15) Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (verse 20) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (verses 24-25).

So, is Paul saying we can simply blame our sinfulness on our human nature and give up on ever being different? No! He is reminding us of the power of our new life in Christ to conquer our old sinful lives. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2) (ESV)

The Holy Spirit was sent as our helper, comforter and counselor. As we face our wounds, we can rely on God’s precious Holy Spirit to help us know the truth, to accept the truth, and to allow Him to replace the pain with His truth and love. After all, Jesus taught us, “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32b)(ESV)

The Holy Spirit is also the “voice” that we hear saying, “Look over here: this has to go, this has to change.” We are always left with a choice to surrender to Him or to resist and turn away. God doesn’t force us to accept His ways. He wants us to choose His ways over our own. His ways are higher and His thoughts are higher than ours. Higher means better; higher means greater.

Wounds can leave us crippled, can leave us guarded, fearful and untrusting. If we are to move forward in God’s call on our lives, then we need to get free from whatever holds us back so we can allow Him to make us productive in His Kingdom and to produce good fruit in His name. When we have to be “in control,” we are preventing God from having control. We are living in fear rather than faith. “Whatever is not from faith is sin,” Paul teaches us. (Romans 14:23) So we must recognize the areas in our lives where we have not yet given God control. If we will ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand why we feel the need to control and not let God have His way, He will show us. Sometimes it is just a matter of humbling ourselves before Him and admitting we have been wrong. 1 Peter 5:6-7 is a good reminder for us, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” It isn’t a weak thing to humble yourself, it’s a good and right thing in God’s eyes. Great joy will come when you fully submit to His ways and are able to “cast all your cares” on Him. That means trusting Him with your finances, trusting Him to heal relationships, even trusting Him for peace of mind in this crazy world.

We can also count on God’s wonderful grace. And what is grace? It is Undeserved, unmerited favor. We can cry out to Him for favor and grace as we face difficult and uncomfortable seasons when we are facing our wounds and fears.

No, it is not always easy, and God often asks us to be patient. James 5:11 says, “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” Don’t give up! Don’t think that it’s too difficult to be free, that it’s easier just to quit. No! You will not come into freedom by giving up or quitting.

I recently heard a woman testify that although she was over 70 and has known the Lord from a young age, for most of her life she has been a “worry wart.” Every time she would try to cast her cares upon the Lord, she would hang onto some of that care and not really give it all over to Him. She testified that for the past year she has been able to “cast her cares” upon Him and NOT hold any of it back, and for the first time in her life she is living in true peace. I was deeply blessed by her testimony and by her honesty. I was also sad that for all of these years she lived in worry, fear and doubt, missing out on the joy and peace God meant for her to have all of her life. Praise God that she has it now, but how long are we going to wait to fully release our wounds and trust God so we can have that joy and peace as well? Let’s do it now.

Below are some other scriptures to look up and study, meditate on or memorize. These will help you in your quest to “Let go and let God” and live a control-free life, fully abandoned to our Savior and Lord.

James 4:7-8 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.

Psalm 91:1-2 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Matthew 10:39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I realize, Lord, that there are many ways that I have felt that I need to be in control. I now see that this is sin and faithlessness. Trusting in You is the better way. I surrender to You right now. I ask You to take control of these areas I’ve held onto, and I submit to Your loving hand to lead and direct me. I ask that You will help me to experience your healing, healing of past experiences that have left me wounded . May I experience the joy and peace that You long to give me. Thank you, Lord that Your ways are higher than my ways and are better than my best thought-out plans. I submit my life to You now and I thank You for your gentle, loving discipline as You reveal to me the areas where I need to change.

In Your precious holy name I pray,

Amen

All scriptures are quoted from New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

His Amazing Grace

Have you struggled with feeling loved by God? Do you doubt that He will help you? Do you feel that He is against you, not for you? Whatever your need is today, your solution is found in a greater revelation of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ.

Jesus came preaching GOOD NEWS, the “too-good-to-be-true news” that is absolutely true! Jesus is Truth, and He longs for you to awaken to His truth now, today. He wants you to understand who He is and what He has done for you that is SO AMAZING!

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you have surrendered your life to Him and have asked Him to forgive you and cleanse you from your sins, then you are cleansed. In spite of all the ways you have fallen short of God’s glory (and we all have), God now sees you as righteous. He wants you to cease being sin-conscious so you can be righteousness-conscious.

You and I owe God a sin debt that we could never pay. But Jesus has already paid our debt. He even overpaid it so we can be debt free and no longer sin-conscious. God declares us righteous through Jesus’ shed blood. That’s what the Apostle Paul called being “justified by faith.” But how can we comprehend this and truly believe it? How was it that Jesus, who never sinned, willingly took on Himself the sin of the whole world? I call it “the great exchange.” He took our sin and gave us His righteousness.

The devil wants us to be self-conscious but God wants us to be Jesus-conscious. Turn away from his accusations and the focus this puts on yourself, and focus instead on Jesus. God no longer judges you on your own merits or failings. He has placed you in Christ and He now sees in you the beauty and perfection of Jesus. Isn’t that AMAZING?

The LAW was the Old Covenant, the long list of strict rules that God gave the Hebrew people to show them how far short they had fallen from His perfect plan for them. The Psalmist wrote to the Lord, “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (Psalm 143:2 NIV), and “If you, oh Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3 NIV).

To atone for the sins of the people, the law required the sacrifice of live animals, which represented the earthly wealth of the Hebrews. A man’s wealth was measured by the size of his herds and flocks, and God said that to be forgiven of sin, a Hebrew must sacrifice the most perfect, spotless lamb, his most valuable possession of all.

But Jesus satisfied the law once and for all by dying willingly on the cross to atone for our sins. He was perfect, without sin, a “spotless Lamb.” By shedding His blood, Jesus paid the price God demanded for justice, and He brought to us the New Covenant. The Law was all about focusing on yourself and your sin. The New Covenant of grace is all about each of us focusing on and living in Jesus Christ. Through the grace of his Holy Spirit working within us, Jesus is forming His very likeness inside each of us as He transforms us from selfish, earthly beings into selfless, heavenly beings. And God now sees the likeness of Christ in us, through His AMAZING grace.

How do we get a greater revelation of Jesus’ love and grace for us? Do we read the Bible more? Do we pray harder? Do we fast more? The Pharisees committed to memorizing the Holy scripture, yet they failed to see God in the flesh standing before them. They also made sure everyone knew when they were fasting and would say their prayers loudly in public for others to see how “holy” they were. The disciplines of reading Scripture, praying and fasting are important, but if we focus on those things we can fall back into legalism and bondage. We won’t see who Jesus really is just by memorizing scripture or being “religious.” Revelation comes when we seek God in person and ask Him to reveal to us the truth of who He really is.

Now, God’s grace does not give us license to sin. The Apostle Paul preached freedom by grace, but listen to what he said to the Romans: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2 NKJV) Paul is clearly saying that we must not continue in sin. Are you having trouble overcoming a sin, a bad habit you just can’t seem to break? Call upon Jesus to help you by His mercy and grace. One of my favorite verses from Paul’s writings is, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV) To me, this says we can ask BIG and we can expect God to do BIG things when we ask. That is AMAZING! It helps to admit to God, “Lord, I can’t do this myself. I will stop trying in my own power and I choose to trust Your grace to help me.”

Maybe you have been struggling financially and you don’t see a way out of your situation. Paul told the believers in Philippi, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Why was Paul able to say this and believe it? Because He knew what Jesus blood had accomplished and he knew what His AMAZING grace meant not only for Paul, but for all of God’s people. This confidence in God’s provision is available to you also!

And don’t you think that His amazing grace is there for your pain and sickness as well? He shed His blood so that we can be healed and live well.
He took our sorrow and grief so that we can have joy and liberty of heart. His grace is complete, His grace is all sufficient for every one of our needs.

Call out to Him right now to help you. It is pointless to see yourself as never being good enough. You couldn’t earn salvation no matter how hard you tried. Refuse to believe the lie that God won’t help you or that God doesn’t love you until you become perfect. “But God shows His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

His love for you is beyond the ability to understand. His love is never ending and without limits. And His gift of grace and forgiveness is FREE! He sent His only Son Jesus to die in your place so you can know your Creator and be loved by Him, and so you will never again be separated from Him by sin. Call upon the AMAZING grace of Jesus and be healed, changed, provided for and loved.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank you that you are my Father and that you sent Jesus to give me the AMAZING grace I so desperately need. Forgive me for struggling on my own and for not calling upon You and trusting You to meet my needs. I want this AMAZING grace and I want to experience your great love for me. I thank you that today my life is going to turn around and I’m going to walk in the freedom you have for me. I thank you for showing me truth today. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Except as noted, all Scripture references are from the English Standard Version.

Let This Mind Be In You

What kind of mind should we have as Christians? Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (KJV) We are to think like Jesus. There are many scripture verses in the Bible that refer to “the mind.” God knows that “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” (This is a title of a great message by Joyce Meyer). Everything we do begins in our mind. A person who commits sin had a thought first before acting it out.

Do we have control over our thoughts, or are we left to a mind that has its own way? The answers to all of our problems lie in the Word of God. If we seek answers, we will find them (Matthew 7:7). So many people struggle in their thought life. I think part of the reason is that they don’t believe they have the power to do anything to change their own thoughts. So, as Christians, they live in the bondage of guilt and shame when all the while Christ Jesus intends for them to live in freedom and peace! Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” You may be thinking, “Yeah, right, don’t I wish I could have perfect peace and that I could keep my mind on Him or even trust Him every day.” Maybe you haven’t found this to be possible. But let me continue: Romans 8:5-7 tells us, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according do the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Clearly, God’s Word tells us that we have power over our thoughts!

So, how is it that we can change our thoughts? Brain researchers have proven scientifically that it is possible to change our way of thinking. From my own personal experience I will admit that it isn’t always easy, it will take work and effort on your part. But if you are determined and seek God’s help, it CAN be done, because HE will help you. Romans 12:2 instructs us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Start by making choices that God will approve. Turn away from the things of this world that drag you into sin.

First Corinthians 2:12 says, “Now we (followers of Christ) have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” The end of verse 16 adds, “But we have the mind of Christ.” That is, our spirit-man has a mind that is of Christ; that agrees with Christ Jesus and the Word of God. We have to let His Spirit rule and lead us, and we have to get our fleshly “mind” to agree with His mind. Set your mind on the Word and listen to that “inner witness” that longs to obey the Lord and desires to please Him.

Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things that are worth thinking about: Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and worthy of praise. Thinking on these things will contribute to the renewal of our minds.

In my own search for freedom in my mind, I discovered a simple 5-step process that works to change the way we think: “It begins with a thought. If you think it long enough, you come to believe that it is true. Once you believe it’s true, it becomes a reality to you. Once it is a reality, you live it out, and as you live it out, it becomes You.” Here’s the process:

(1) Thought
(2) Belief
(3) Reality
(4) Lived Out
(5) Becomes You

If the original thought is negative, self-destructive, or untrue, it becomes a “stronghold” of the mind that will hold you in its bondage. But if this process is followed with a positive, encouraging, uplifting thought, it becomes a “strong place” in your mind which is healthy and produces good fruit in you. Replace your wrong thinking with right thinking and with God’s help you can and WILL change your mind to glorify Him and live in His freedom!

Let’s pray:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I need help in this area. I am willing to try and I am willing to change. I know that I need Your help to do this. So I thank You that You are with me to help me come in to the freedom You desire for me to have. I thank you for this in Your Precious Holy name,
Amen

The most helpful reference I can recommend on this subject is Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book and DVD series, “Who Switched Off My Brain?” (Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions) www.drleaf.net She presents scientific research from a Christian perspective.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the English Standard Version.

There Is More Of God’s Love For You

I was walking during my quiet time with the Lord the other day, praying, and I just sensed the Lord speaking to my heart. He was saying, You’re touched by My love when you realize I am here. You are filled by My love when you reach out for it. I long to do more than touch you with My love. I long to fill you with My love. Will you ask so it will come? Will you lay down the things that hinder you from receiving My love? Unworthiness, fear, doubt, complacency; My love is SO much better than any of these. So why hang on to them? Release them and have My love. Release them and have more of Me. Release the hurts and the offenses, the things that people have done to you. It’s not worth hanging on. Put My love in place of these things and you will rise out of them successfully.

There will always be offenses but you must not take them when they come. There will always be something to fear; but you must choose to not fear it and take MY love. There’s more for the asking! Just ask and I’ll give more.

Walk in My love. Let love be your aim. Love never fails; I AM love and what I give you is love and it will never fail. Let this be in you; you have the choice. You choose to love, you choose to hate. You choose to forgive. You choose to hold a grudge. In the releasing of these negative things, there is room for love. There is room for you to change. It is possible for you to change and become the person I have called you to be, I have created you to be, I have purposed for you to be.

Cry out to know Me more. There IS more to know of Me, you know. Cry out! See Me move in your life, in your circumstances and in the impossible situations; yet by My power I will make possible to move and to change. It’s time for you to be refreshed. Be refreshed in My love and in who I am. I AM MORE than you know. So come and know MORE. I am MORE than you’ve seen. So COME and see MORE. I am MORE than what you’ve experienced so COME and experience MORE.

Dare to ask, dare to receive, dare to believe. There is a planting and a harvesting. Plant the seeds of faith into My love and watch them grow.

Scriptures to meditate on:

I John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”
I John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the word. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
Jeremiah 31:3b “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued My faithfulness to you.”
I Corinthians 14:1 “Make love your aim.” (RSV)
I Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails.” (KJ)
Romans 8:39 “…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 5:5 “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” (KJ)
Luke 11:9 “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Scripture references are from New English Version unless stated other wise.

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