Sunday, January 31, 2010

God's Love & Direction

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Scripture To Reflect:

"God's Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. God's love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out." 1 Cor 13:4-6 (Living Bible)
Lead Me On (Author Unknown)

In her book, A Slow and Certain Light, former missionary to South America, Elizabeth Elliot, tells of a time when she was approached by two young, inexperienced adventurers. The two were loaded down with expensive equipment and a zeal for the future. However, rather than ask for advice from Mrs. Elliot, who knew the jungle well, the adventurers simply wanted to know a couple of phrases to converse with the Indians. Mrs. Elliot writes, "Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me - confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. But has it occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?" What we really need on our "adventures" in life is the Guide, Himself. All our "stuff" will not get us very far through the maze of life's jungle.

Take a minute to read and meditate on Psalm 143:8-10 (NIV):

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."

What are two areas in which you are going to need the Lord's leading in the next month? Now ask Him for direction and help in those two areas.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

God's Power

SpiritFire: Life to Our Bones, by Phil Ware

Thirty years old! I can remember the mixed emotions when I reached that milestone birthday many years ago. (In fact, it was such a milestone that I have decided to re-celebrate my thirtieth birthday 25 more times since then!) My mixed emotions were nothing compared to those of Ezekiel. He had trained all of his life to enter into service as a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. Yet when Ezekiel turned thirty, he found himself as a forced refugee in a foreign land with the unbelievably hard and unwanted task of prophesying destruction on the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God in which he longed to serve the Holy One.

For seven years, Ezekiel gave his grave warnings of destruction, and then his words of prophecy came true. All that Ezekiel grew up believing he was born to do and the place in which he was to do it were now destroyed. His fellow Jews shared the shock and sorrow that Ezekiel felt as many of them were dragged away into their forced captivity. Shock and sorrow soon turned to anger, desperation, and despair. Their homeland and all that was precious about it lay in ruins. Hopelessness settled into the hearts of God's people.

Then, in the time of greatest hopelessness and despair, God sent Ezekiel a strange vision about a field full of many dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). God had Ezekiel prophesy to these bleached and lifeless bones, and they came together into skeletons, then connective tissue, and then skin covered them. But, they were lifeless because there was no Breath of God in them. Then Ezekiel spoke and God sent his Breath, his Holy Spirit, into these lifeless forms and they lived.

God explained to Ezekiel just what the vision meant in these words:

Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD'" (Ezekiel 37:11-14 TNIV).

The power of God to bring new life to his people comes from the Holy Spirit, the Breath of Heaven that the Father sends to bring new life to his people. This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead and is available to us as his followers (Ephesians 1:15-21).

In the middle of our darkest nights of hopeless despair, God can send the Holy Spirit to bring fresh hope and new life to renew and empower us, his people.

This power took the rag tag bunch of apostles who had let Jesus down so many times in his earthly ministry, and used them to change their world. This power, this heavenly wind, empowered them to be witnesses to Jesus all over their world (Acts 1:1-8). In the face of threats and persecution, as they prayed, the followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaimed the message of Jesus (Acts 4:31) trusting in Jesus' promise that God's heavenly Breath would give them strength and words to say in such difficult times (Luke 12:8-12). And this power, the Holy Spirit who lives inside each follower of Jesus and can do in us what is beyond our power to imagine, is available if we are willing to pray for each other to receive him (Ephesians 3:14-21).

So what's the point?

The Holy Spirit is God's presence within us, God's power for us, and God's strength given to us. We must be passionate about praying for our family, our friends in Jesus, our congregation, and brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world to have God send his Breath to enter and empower us. Rather than just seeing the Holy Spirit as a gift for us personally, we must remember that this blessing is one we must pray for each other and the community of Christ. Imagine what would happen if the followers of Jesus, all over the world, began to pray for each other the prayer Paul prayed so long ago!

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen
(Ephesians 3:14-21).

Yes, so many all over the world praying such a prayer could bring much more than renewal to the Church of Jesus; in response to our prayer, God would bring new life and fresh power to our weary hearts and dry lifeless bones and new life to our world lost in darkness!

I encourage you to write out a morning or evening prayer that helps you pray for God's power to be released into the lives of those you love through the Holy Spirit.

His Power Within Us!

VERSE: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -- Ephesians 3:20-21

THOUGHT: While the focus of this passage is on God, "The One Who is Able . to him be glory ..." I want to draw your attention to one other key phrase in this passage -- "his power that is at work within us."

Paul has earlier prayed that God would "strengthen you [the Ephesians and us] with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (Ephesians 3:16). While the Holy Spirit is far more than just God's power, the Spirit clearly does live in us to bring us God's power!

As we journey through this year, each day we will spend a little time reminding ourselves of God's personal presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's presence is a powerful blessing that empowers us and transforms us. Let's never forget that we are not only saved by grace, but that we are also empowered by this gracious gift of the Holy Spirit within us!

PRAYER: Oh Almighty God, I am humbled that you love me and have chosen to place your powerful presence within me. Please strengthen me with might by your Spirit within me. Mold me and transform me so that the presence of the Holy Spirit shows up in ways that remind people of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Turn Loose God's Power

VERSE: For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being ...Ephesians 3:14-16

THOUGHT: One of the best gifts we can give those we love is to pray for them. One of the most important prayers we can pray for other believers is the one Paul prays here. We can pray for those we love to be strengthened by God's Spirit! Not only can we pray this prayer for them, we can let them know that we are praying this prayer for them. Why not copy the prayer Paul prayed above and send it to a believing friend or family member and let them know that you have prayed this prayer for them today!

PRAYER: Father in heaven, I believe you are all powerful and that I cannot begin to understand your glory and might. I am humbled that you make that power available to me, and within me, through the Holy Spirit. Dear Father, there are those I love that I pray that you will bless with your power. Please strengthen them with your power in their inner being. Please help them be aware of your presence in their lives through the Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Are We Asking?

VERSE: "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" - Luke 11:13

THOUGHT: James told early followers of Jesus that they lacked many things in their spiritual walk with the Lord because they did not ask for them (James 3:1-3). So often we fail to have the blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives because we don't ask for the Spirit. God longs for us to request the Spirit's presence and power, but the Father is not going to force the Spirit's influence into our lives. He wants us to request the Spirit and to submit to the Spirit's leading and direction in our lives. So let's ask the Father for the Spirit!

PRAYER: Almighty God, my loving Father, I thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit given to me when I came to Jesus. Yet, dear Father, as I face the challenges of temptation, deal with grief and loss, face challenges that are overwhelming to me, and seek to bless your children, I confess that I need the power and presence of your Holy Spirit in my life. Please fill me with Your Spirit. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Out of Chaos

VERSE: The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Gen 1:2

THOUGHT: In the very first chapter of the Bible, we are taken to the chaos before time began. In the formless and dark void of a universe prior to creation, we find the Spirit of God hovering over the chaos waiting for God to speak His creative word. This creative word set the power of the Spirit into creative work, ordering and making our universe and our world within it. Yet isn't it so sadly ironic that in the chaos of our lives we so seldom cry out to God and ask for His Holy Spirit to come into our lives and bring the Lord's creative order? Let's ask for God's Spirit, hovering above our messes, to enter into our world and lead us to where we need to be and to bring the Father the glory He deserves!

PRAYER: O Sovereign God, I confess that I cannot order and control my life. I surrender to Your grace and ask for Your Holy Spirit to enter my world and bring Your gracious and creative order and form Your holy character and compassion in me. In the name of Your Son and my Savior, I pray. Amen.
Grace Even in the Asking

VERSE: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. Rom 8:26-27

THOUGHT: How do we ask for the Holy Spirit? How do pray when we don't know what to say? Paul tells the followers of Jesus in Rome that the Holy Spirit helps intercede for us, even to the point of articulating to God what we can't put into words! Not only that, but when we point our hearts and requests and thanksgivings to God, the Holy Spirit cleans up our prayers and makes them in line with the will of God! Even in asking for the Spirit to be at work in our lives, the Holy Spirit goes to work for us in and through our prayers!

PRAYER: Precious God, Almighty Father, words cannot express the depth of my appreciation for your gift of the Holy Spirit. Even when I don't know how to pray or what to say, I know the Spirit is there with me, sharing my heart with you in ways that are pleasing to you! Thank you for this grace and the Gift that makes it possible. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Source - Used with permission from "Heartlight" (Jan 1 - Jan 5 2010) - Please note 'The SpiritFire daily devotional' written by Phil Ware is part of a new year long devotional walk focused on the blessing of the Holy Spirit in our lives - You can subscribe - It's FREE! Just send a blank email to:

God's Grace

"Grace is Enough" (Lorraine Ezell)

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

For the last couple of days I have had a chorus playing over and over in my thoughts. The words that I keep hearing are- "Your grace is enough; Your grace is enough for me". I am so glad for God's grace; it is enough for whatever we may be going through.

This morning, I don't know what you are facing- tragedy, problems in a relationship, unruly children, a demanding boss, financial stress or any one of a million other situations- but I want to remind you that "God's Grace is Enough"! That means that grace is all you need to make it through.

It has been said that if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. He brings you through it by His grace.
Grace is the vessel that will carry you through the most difficult trial. It will reach into the lowest valley. It will shine as the noonday sun in the darkest area. It will conqueror the strongest adversary. It will bring down the tallest giant. It is a bridge of hope for the hopeless, the light at the end of the tunnel, a shelter in the time of storm. It brings a peace that passes understanding. It gives strength to run through a troop and leap over a wall. It defeats the power and stronghold the enemy thought he had over you. It causes you to rejoice when you see nothing to rejoice about and gives you the ability to give thanks in all things.

Are you trying to find an answer this morning or a way of escape? Are you trying to find a solution? Are you trying to find a "way out"? Sometimes your answer and what you need is grace. Like the Lord said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient".

Have a great day. His grace is enough-- it's all we need, regardless of the situation.

God's Grace - Lavished Upon Us!

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people - free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth. Eph 1:7-10 The Message

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Eph 1:7-10 NIV