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Friday, July 29, 2011

Seeking a Sign

My devotional today was again an interesting one.  From Luke 11:29-30, Jesus talks about people asking for a sign from God and He says "The Son of Man will be a sign for the people of this time."

We have to be clear here, Jesus was talking about a sign or proof to the doubters.  Phile Ware says, "Let's believe, trusing that what Jesus promises is just as true as God's promise was to send Him!"

I believe this can not only be applied to those seeking Christ, but also to those who know Him, but are struggling in their faith.  We may not receive a sign or a miracle.  The author tells us, "The faith hurdle is to trust when all looks hopeless and the miracle we desire does not happen before our eyes and on our time schedule."   

Mark 9:24 states, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Even when we believe, we still have unbelief.  How much we believe and how much unbelief we have may vary at times.  As one goes up, the other goes down.  So, the daily life application here is to figure out what makes our belief rise and our unbelief diminish.  It's a truly personal answer and may vary greatly through our circumstances.

"Lord, help my unbelief!  Help me to find the ways that cause my faith to increase.  As I decrease, You increase and my relationship with You grows!" 

ChristinaLynn }i{

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cleaning Out the Bad

I just read an interesting devotional based on Luke 11:24-26.  These verses refer to the time when Jesus cast a demon out of a man.  Jesus went on to say that the demon was cast out, but still existed and was searching for a place to rest.  When the demon could find no suitable place to rest, it went back to the person it had left and found that the person had removed all of the bad, so now there was plenty of room for seven more evil spirits, more evil than even it was, to live inside the man.  Now, the man has more trouble than before.

Ever feel that way?  You got rid of one bad thing only to have seven more show up at your door? 

I know I have!  Sometimes it feels as though we can never win.  We can never get ahead.  Like we are getting rid of the bad, only to have more and more bad take its place.  My husband says regularly that we have too much stress in our lives and we just keep adding more.  And he's right.  So, what do you do?  How do you stop this vicious cycle?

The teaching here is to replace the bad with the good.  Phil Ware says, "We must replace the old bad things with God's presence, power, and purpose in our lives. Let's pursue Jesus and the character and concerns of His kingdom, letting the Holy Spirit fill and empower us and make us truly instruments of grace in God's Kingdom."

"...instruments of grace..."  What does that really mean?  I've often heard the acronym, God's Riches At Christ' Expense.  Merriam-Webster defines grace as unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification and goes on to say:  approval, favor, privilege, reprieve.  The thesaurus also says that grace is a quality that gives something special worth.  Christ's death on the cross certainly gives us special worth.  I believe God expects us to treat others as though they have special worth as well.  After all, He died for them, just as much as He died for us.  Treating others as if they have God's grace, helps further His Kingdom.  But, we must also remember to treat ourselves as if we have special worth.  Filling our hearts, minds and bodies with things that support and encourage that grace. 

You see, if we simply clear out the dust, dirt and cobwebs from our homes we leave room for the dirt, dust and cobwebs to return - along with much more.  We have to add the air purifiers, fresh flowers and scents to make our homes pleasant.  We must continue with daily cleaning and maintenance to keep the dirt and cobwebs from coming back.  We must "pledge" the surfaces to keep the dust from sticking.  The same applies to our hearts and minds.  We must fill our hearts and minds with the things of God to keep the evil from returning - and bringing its friends!

ChristinaLynn }i{

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, & ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, & truth."

The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"

The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

ChristinaLynn }i{

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It was great to be in the house of the Lord today!!  Pastor Chuck delivered a message titled Run With Passion:  Stoke the Inner Fire based on I Corinthians 12 & 13.  I was blessed to receive this message!

Many of you who have been around the Christian circuit for a while have heard about agape love.  Many of you will say that agape love represents God's unconditional love toward us.  Did you know that our word "agony" comes from the word agape?  Alan Redpath defines it as "the actual absorption of our being in one great passion."  The same work is used to describe man's love of sin and the world in John 3:19 and I John 2:15. 

As Pastor Chuck explained it today, when you look at it that way - we all need a heart transplant and a blood transfusion!  The infections of our heart - anger, envy, pride, jealousy, selfishness - can not simply be removed.  The heart must be opened up.  Each infectious part must be cleansed and the heart allowed to heal before it can function usefully again.  We know that only God's love has the healing power to make this happen.  It's that love that we then need to express to others.  It must live in every crevice of our heart, replacing the infectious, rotting flesh of our sin in order to shine through us to others. 

We know in I Corinthians 13 it says Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.  I ask you:  Can you have Faith and Hope but not have Love?  Of course you can!  Many who do not believe in God have faith in other people and things.  They still have hope for their uncertain future.  But they can never have the agape love that God uses to heal our hearts.  That love that exudes from those who fully trust in Him and allow Him to slice open their hearts and cleanse them with the love His Son poured out on the cross.  That love doesn't exist without Him.  Without the Faith in an everlasting Messiah.  Without the Hope of an eternity at His feet.

What infections have you been harboring in your heart?

Lord, I have been selfish with the time and resources You have allotted me.  At times this selfishness has led to laziness, anger, envy and jealousy.  Please help me to adjust the microscope of Your Love to focus fully on You.  Remove the infections of my heart through the cleansing power of Your blood and replace it with the Faith of The Messiah who rose again, the Hope of an eternity with You and the agape Love of an all-powerful Saviour!

ChristinaLynn }i{