Thursday, February 14, 2013
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
Today love is celebrated all over the world. This is Valentine's Day, the day of love. But what does it mean to “love” someone? We often think of the ooey, gooey, warm fuzzy feelings that come when a man and woman find that they care for and are affectionate towards each other and we say, “they're in love”. They get “that look” in their eyes and often lose touch with reality and are said to have their heads in the clouds. But God said the way we can identify true love is by one person laying down their life for another. He said there is no greater love than this.
Love – Greek word, agape, which means an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest good of the other person, no matter what he does. It is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. Agape is more a love by choice than by chance; and it refers to the will rather than the emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world.
1 John 4:9, 10 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
God sent Jesus to die for us that He might show that great love that He has for us; the love that chooses to do what's best for us. The ultimate need for mankind was that of a Savior, One who could die to pay the price for the sin of mankind. Jesus was that sacrificial lamb Who died to pay the price for man's sin.
Hebrews 9:27, 28 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice; no more animal sacrifices were needed to cover man's sin. Jesus paid the price to not just cover man's sin, but to totally remove it; as far as the east is from the west. Man, when receiving what Jesus did for him personally on the Cross of Calvary, has his sin completely removed, and becomes just as if he had never sinned.
Jesus said in John 10:17, 18 that His Father loved Him because He lay down His life and no one was able to take it from Him.
John 10:17, 18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.
Jesus willingly went to the cross to purchase the redemption of mankind. He gave of Himself that we might have life. The Romans crucified Him on an old wooden cross because He chose to die for you and me! He expressed that “greater love”, the love of choice, agape, that always chooses what's best for the other person, through His death on the Cross of Calvary.
John 3:16, 17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
God sent Jesus into the world to die that His man might be saved. The payment was freely made by Jesus, who willingly went to the cross to pay the price for mankind's redemption. It was a gift given by Love, Himself, Who could do nothing more than express His very own nature to the people that He created and loved. It is because of His great love for us that we celebrate Valentine's Day, for God is love.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
We can't truly love another person without God's love residing in our hearts. That's why there are so many failed marriages in our world. The love that is shared without arising from the heart of God is simply an affectionate type of love that fades when it's own needs are not met. True love arises from knowing God because He is love. Without His agape love in a person's heart, the love that they show to another is simply a love arising from emotional feelings; an attraction that they have towards another person.
Have you personally experienced God's love expressed towards you through the crucifixion of Jesus? He loved you so much that He chose to die for you to pay the price for your sin. You can know Him and experience His love in a real way today! If you haven't received Jesus as your own personal Savior and Lord please pray with me this prayer and sincerely mean it in your heart.
Father, I come before You this morning in the name of Jesus to acknowledge that I have never received the payment that Jesus made for my sin that expresses Your love for me. I confess that I am a sinner by birth because sin travels down the bloodline and I am a sinner by choice because I have chosen to live my life selfishly for my own gain. I ask You to forgive me, to cleanse my heart from sin and to save me. Lord Jesus, I receive Your great love and thank You for saving me. I believe that You are the Son of God, sent to pay the price for my sin, that You were crucified and raised to new life and now sit at the Father's right hand in heaven. I confess You, Lord Jesus, as my Savior and Lord! From this day forward I vow to live for You! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer and really meant it in your heart, you are now a child of God. You have been ushered into the family of God. Congratulations! You have just made the most important decision of your life.
Father, I pray for those who have come into Your family today that You would make Yourself real to them so they will be assured of Your presence within them. I ask that their new life in Christ Jesus would be seen to those around them as they share what has taken place in their lives today. I pray for those who are hurting this morning that may not have someone to share their love with on this special day that Your presence would surround them with a new awareness of how much You love them and desire to have them share that love with You. I pray that they will be comforted by Your love and not desire a love that would simply be a substitute for true love. And may we all show love one to another, Father, for everyone who knows God loves those around them as a sign that they belong to You. May we share the love that You have placed in our hearts. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Genesis 15:1-6 NLT Afterward the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since I don't have a son, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no children, so one of my servants will have to be my heir.” Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own to inherit everything I am giving you.” Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, “Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that—too many to count!” And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith.
How many times do we sacrifice what God wants to do in our lives because we can't see past the problems? Do we limit what God wants to do in our lives through our own natural abilities or inabilities? Do we judge God's power to do the impossible by what we see in the natural?
When God first began speaking with Abram about giving him a son, Abram couldn't see the greatness of God's ability to do the impossible because he was limited by his view of the problem. He couldn't see the solution because of the largeness of his circumstances. Abram assumed that things were going to continue as they had and he would eventually die and all that he had worked for throughout his life would go to an outsider because he had no heir of his own. God was offering him all that He was and had and Abram couldn't see the vastness of it because of his focus on the problem.
God had to take Abram outside of his own surroundings to give him an illustration of what He wanted to do in and through Abram's life. Sometimes we have to leave where we are to see what God wants to lead us into. When Abram opened himself up to see what God was showing him his perspective on his situation changed. All of a sudden he could see that God really was the God of impossibilities and He wanted to do the impossible in Abram's life.
It is said in Genesis 15:6 that Abram “believed” the LORD!
That word for believed is the Hebrew word aman and it means to consider trustworthy; to stand fast in one spot. Considering something trustworthy is an act of full trusting or believing. This is the emphasis in this portion of scripture, which is the the first biblical occurrence of aman, where Abram believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness. The meaning here is that Abram was full of trust and confidence in God, and that he did not fear Him. It was not primarily in God's word that he believed, but in God Himself.
When God convinced Abram that He would do the impossible in his life in giving him a son Abram was able to stand fast believing that God was trustworthy and would do what He had promised. When we come to the place that God is bigger than our doubts or fears we will be able to stand firm on what He has promised each one of us.
What is it that God has promised to do in your life that you are struggling to believe?
Jesus told His disciples when they were struggling with their faith that they should “Have faith in God”. (Mark 11:22) The foundation that we build our faith on has to be a firm foundation of truth. Only God offers that. There is nothing that the world can offer that compares to what God can and will do in a believer's life. In another place Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith”. (Luke 8:25) What had they placed their faith in? In Luke 17:5 the apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith and He responded with this:
Luke 17:6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.”
It's not a matter of how big our faith is; it's a matter of how big our God is and how we respond in alignment with that truth. Jesus said they could take faith as small as a mustard seed and speak it out to their problem and it would obey them. Unbelief limits your faith.
F.B. Meyer said, “Unbelief puts circumstances between itself and Christ, so as not to see Him....Faith puts Christ between itself and circumstances.”
This reminds me of Jesus when it says in Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus put His trust in God; His faith had a firm foundation and then He looked at the joy of redeeming mankind, paying the price for the penalty for our sin, instead of the distraction of the pain and shame of going to the cross. He put His faith into action by focusing on the solution instead of the problems. Jesus put the greatness of His Father between Himself and His circumstances. He looked to God to bring Him into the fullness of His destiny as the Savior of the world. Faith puts God between us and our circumstances.
What assumptions have you allowed to come between you and what God has planned for your future? Is it that you assume that things will never be any different than what they are now? Have you assumed that your problems are too big for God to do anything about? How about this one: have you assumed that it's too late or that you are too old to fulfill the plan that God has for your life?
All of these assumptions keep us caged in the present to where we can't see our way out to experience the future! How about changing our assumptions? What about changing our thoughts and actions to align with the truth of God's word?
Later in the book of Romans we see how Abraham changed so he could experience the reality of what God had promised him. We would be wise to adopt his attitude for victory in our lives as well.
Romans 4:18-24 NLT When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed Him. God had also said, “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars,” even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. And because of Abraham's faith, God declared him to be righteous.
Through all the time that Abraham and Sarah waited for Isaac to be born, the scriptures say that his faith grew stronger, not weaker. He brought glory to God because he continued to stand in faith. He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do that which He had promised! What a testament to standing in faith! This was an extreme situation that required strong faith and Abraham lived it so we could see what we need to do in situations that seem like impossibilities in our own lives. What God has done for one He will do for another. He is no respecter of persons!
Father, I thank You for recording within Your word the stories of those that have gone before us that can show us the way to take to achieve the promises that You have given each one of us. Thank You for Abraham's strong faith and the encouragement it gives us when we read of how he stood in faith believing that You were able to do that which You had promised him. Father, I know that there are many today that are struggling to believe that things will be different in their lives; that loved ones will come to salvation; that they will overcome illnesses and receive Your healing touch to restore them to good health; that they will find new jobs that will relieve the financial pressure in their lives and many more problems that we can't even begin to imagine. You, Lord, know exactly where each person is in their walk of faith. I pray that You will show them the good plan that You have for their lives and instill within them the ability to believe You to work and bring into manifestation what they can't do for themselves. Help them to continue to believe until they see the reality of the promise! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Ephesians 1:3-6 NKJV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
God had a plan for you to be His even before the foundation of the world! He loved each one of us so much that He set in motion the plan for His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin so that we might become His very own children, adopted into His family and accepted in the Beloved. You were not a mistake, God loves you and made the way for you to be His! He knew that His man that He would create in the Garden of Eden would fall into sin and He would need a sacrifice to pay the price for that sin so He planned for it before He even created the world and you and I were thought of and included in that plan. He predestined us to be adopted into His family.
Predestined – Greek word proorizo – means to predetermine; determine before, to ordain.
To predestine does not mean that He included some and excluded some others; it means that He planned beforehand that all who would desire could come into His family. He had an appointed plan and a guaranteed destiny for those who would be His redeemed. The choice is up to the person, but the plan was set in place for us to be called into the family of God way before we were ever born!
So who are we in Christ Jesus. We can look all through the New Testament and see the plan that God had to place us in Christ Jesus and re-create us into a new person. Here are a few of the Scriptures that tell of who our new identity is in Him.
He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ! We are not orphans; we are children of the King. Our Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills and has provided for our every need through the relationship that we have with Jesus Christ. All of heaven backs us; He even sent His very own Spirit to live within us to lead us and guide us. He made the way for us to live in freedom from sin, sickness and disease and poverty and lack. Our Father has made us holy and without blame for our sin because Jesus took our place and died for us! What wonderful news!
Because of all that He has done for me I can't help but praise Him! My lips will praise Him! My voice will tell of His marvelous works and my life will reflect His life within me.
Father, because You have given Your all for me, I will praise You with all of my being! You are my God and there is none above You or beside You in my life. My lips will praise You because you are holy and lovely and worthy! I love You, My Savior and My God and I will worship You in spirit and in truth because of Who you are! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world to receive glory and honor and praise! Hallelujah! Praise Your wonderful name, Lord Jesus! I welcome You into my life, Holy Spirit, to lead me and guide me into all truth, to magnify the Lord Jesus within me and to fill me to overflowing with Your very own presence! Thank You for loving me, Father, and accepting me into the Beloved, Your very own family.
Father, I pray that those who don't know You this morning will hear You calling them into Your family. I pray that they will respond with a vibrant, YES, Lord Jesus I receive You as my very own Savior and Lord. I pray that they will not wait for tomorrow may be too late. May each one of the lost and hurting hear You beckoning them to come into relationship with Jesus today for today is the day of their salvation. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Psalm 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
As I began to awake this morning I realized that this scripture was running through my mind. Anytime the Lord begins to speak to me as I awaken I have learned to recognize that He is trying to get my attention to speak to me about something in particular. One of my children is going through a difficult time and I have been praying for a specific situation in that child's life that would bring a breakthrough and victory. My heart has always been tender towards my children to the point that when they hurt I hurt.
Heritage – Hebrew word nachalah which means something inherited, occupancy, or an heirloom; an estate, patrimony or portion; to inherit, inheritance, possession.
If you have children, they are a part of your inheritance from the Lord. Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, which uses biblical definitions, says that one of the meanings of a “portion” is the part of an estate given to a child or heir, or descending to him by law, and distributed to him in the settlement of the estate. God's distribution to us as His heirs includes those children that He has given to us. Do we value them as our inheritance from the Lord? The scripture goes on to say that the children that come from our wombs, as mothers, is a reward. Within the covenant that Israel received from the Lord was the understanding that God's blessing of children was a special gift from Him. They were a reward!
For a woman to be barren and not able to bear children in the Israelite culture was felt to be a terrible curse from God. They remembered that when God created mankind one of the blessings He bestowed upon them was that they would be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. When a woman was unable to bear children she was considered to be cursed by God. The reward of the womb was taken very seriously. Children are a continuation of our own lineage and are to be viewed as a blessing. The future of our nation rests upon the children that we raise up to be godly members of society. Today if you don't have children it is not viewed as a curse from God, but simply may not be in His plan for your life. His plan might be that you adopt and provide a home for one who does not have a place in their natural parent's lives. Or His plan might be for you to bear “spiritual children”, those who would come into the family of God through your witness. He has a special plan for your life regardless of whether there are natural born children in your life.
Do you have children? If so, how do you feel about them? Do you see them as your inheritance from the Lord? If they are having difficulty are you praying for them according to the scriptures that they would be your reward and live out the life that God has planned for them? God sees the potential in us instead of our problems. He views us as a special and unique creation made in His likeness and image. He doesn't view us according to our difficulties or weaknesses but views us as the finished product of His lovingly shaping us into the image of His Son. God sees us complete and whole in Him, not from a stance of children who are flawed from living in a fallen and sinful world. He always sees the best in each of His children.
When Esau met Jacob after being apart from him for such a long time he asked Jacob who the women and children were that came along with him. In Genesis 33:5 we hear Jacob's answer to Esau:
And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “the children whom God has graciously given your servant.”
Jacob viewed his children as gifts the Lord had graciously given him. They were his reward and he had lots of them!
When God made a covenant with Israel to be His own special people, of which we as New Testament believers are, He promised to bless them and multiply them so they would be blessed above all peoples.
Deuteronomy 7:13, 14 “And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. “You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock.
God intended for all the nations that they would come into contact with to see the goodness of God through them. They were to be representatives of the Most High God and people were to see that they were a blessed people so that they would want to know this God of theirs. God wanted all the nations of the earth to see His goodness through His people so they would be drawn to Him. Children were one of those ways the nations were to see that God was good to His people.
Do you see your children as a blessing from the Lord or do the problems that they have and are experiencing constantly weigh upon your heart bringing a feeling of unrest, failure and disappointment? There are some ways to pray for our children that will help them deal with the difficulties of life and bring success and victory into their situations. Ask the Lord to direct you to the scriptures that pertain to whatever difficulty your children may be facing. I like to take those scriptures and put them into what I call a “covenant prayer” format. I also will make scriptural declarations over my children such as this one based on Isaiah 54:13:
All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.
My prayerful declaration for my children based on this scripture is:
Father, I thank You that all my children are taught of the Lord and great is their peace, their undisturbed composure. Nothing causes them to stumble.
Jesus said in reference to this scripture in Isaiah that “they shall all be taught of God [have Him in person for their Teacher]. (John 6:45 Amplified Bible)
If my children are constantly taught of the Lord then they will turn out to be the people that God designed and created them to be. I do not have to worry that they will go astray because He is teaching them the right way to walk through life. Even when it looks like they are not living according to godly principles I can be assured that God is working in their lives and will do what He has promised. I will continue to stand on His word until I see the fulfillment of the scriptures that I am praying and declaring over them.
How about this one? It's a familiar one to lots of us.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
My prayerful declaration based on this scripture would be: Father, I thank You for my children whom I have raised according to Your principles. I declare that they will not depart from the teachings that I have instilled within them!
When my children were young adults I often prayed Psalm 91 over them for their protection. I find that even though my children are older adults now they still need their mother to pray for their protection and preservation. They are my heritage from the Lord and my reward from Him! I want to protect what He has given me through prayer and godly counsel when they ask. I may not always be able to direct them through what I say but I can always pray God's word over them to influence them in the way they should be going. A note of caution here: never pray anything for your children that you would not pray for yourself. A controlling prayer based on selfish desires to get them to act in a way that you want is not a godly prayer. Praying that God's will be done in their lives as it is in heaven is the way to pray. He has a perfect plan for their lives just like He has for yours. That is the outcome that we should desire to see in our children's lives.
Father, I thank You for the children that You have given as our inheritance from You. Thank You for placing them in our lives. Father, I pray that Your will might be done in each of their lives just as it is in heaven. I ask You to direct them in the way they should go. Show them the godly path they are to walk that will bring them into the good plan that You have for their lives. Father, I pray that all our children will be taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace, their undisturbed composure. I ask You to work in their lives as only You can do, calling them to Yourself and developing within them a hunger and a thirst for righteousness that they might be filled. I thank You for them and ask that You would direct each one of us in how we can pray for our children according to Your will and not the desires that we have for them that may be misdirected by our own unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. May we be willing to let You mold them into the people that You want them to be and not us taking that responsibility upon ourselves. Father, help us to release them into Your care and understand that You are the Potter and they are the clay and You can mold them and make them without our interference. May we offer them words of encouragement and not discouragement! May we be a part of the solution instead of the problem. Father, help us allow You the freedom to move in their lives as You desire. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.
Commit – Hebrew word galal means to roll, roll down, row away, remove. The analogy that is used in this word is that of a camel, burdened with a heavy load, when the load is to be removed, the camel kneels down, tilts far to one side, and the load rolls off.
These two scriptures give us two things in our lives that we are to “roll” over onto the Lord: our way and our works. What the Lord is saying is that if we roll over onto Him the care of where we are going and what we are doing He will take over for us and guide us and establish us in success. The thoughts of our future will be secure in Him because it is then His responsibility to guide us and cause us to succeed in wherever He takes us and whatever He gives us to do. The responsibility is no longer on our shoulders but on His.
The New Testament counterpart to both of these scriptures is found in 1 Peter 5:7: casting all of your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Along with the concern about where our lives are going and what we are doing comes the worry of how everything is going to turn out. The Lord does not want us to worry about anything, thus He tells us to cast or roll our cares about life over onto Him because He cares for us.
What are you carrying through life that doesn't belong on your shoulders? What part of your life needs to be rolled over onto the Lord? He loves you and doesn't want to see you weighed down with cares.
Philippians 4:6, 7 NKJV Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
When we substitute prayer for worry, peace envelops our hearts and minds. We know through that simple act of rolling our cares over onto the Lord that the result will be peace of mind and heart. It's just that simple; choosing to pray and trust over carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. There will always be an opportunity to worry about tomorrow or what might be happening in your life. But with the opportunity to worry comes the opportunity to roll it over onto God's shoulders and let Him take care of it. That is where trust comes in. Rolling and trusting are tied together. You can't do one without the other. So the choice then becomes to either carry it yourself or give it away!
Ephesians 3:20, 21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
God can take those cares and do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think about them. He does it by His power through us, and that act of working in us brings glory to Him and success to us. It's a win-win situation when we choose to give our thoughts, cares, and future over to God and allow Him to direct us, care for us and work in us to His glory and honor. Won't you choose to give Him those things that are worrying you today?
Father, I thank You for Your ability to handle our cares and concerns about life in a manner that always works for our good. Father, thank You for caring so much for us! Father, I lift my friends up to You who are shouldering heavy weights this morning. I pray that they will roll those cares over onto You and allow You to handle the solutions to each one of them. Father, give them the courage to transfer their worries onto Your shoulders. Give them a glimpse of the good future that You have for each one of them. Father, I pray that they will release to You every care, every burden and every concern that is weighing heavily on their minds today and I ask that as they do that You would cover them with Your peace like a warm blanket. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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