May 29, 2017

Set Apart

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Back to our first love, nothing between us
Back to Your heart, to the start of it all
Where we found You

Out of the ashes, into the fire
You are refining our hearts in the flames
Of Your presence

Set apart for our God above
Set apart for the One we love
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours

Sacred and holy, Your name is worthy
Jesus, awaken our hearts now to be
Your revival

Everything for You alone
Everything to make You known
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours

And oh, how great You are
Set apart for Your glory we are Yours, Yours
We are Yours

Worship Central
songwriters: Ben Cantelon, Luke Hellebronth, Nick Herbert, Tim Hughes

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did
what God wanted Him to do by sacrificing His body once and for all…this chief Priest (Jesus) made one sacrifice for sins,
and this sacrifice lasts forever.
Hebrews 10:10-12 (GW)

What does it mean to be set apart? I looked at dictionary.com and found these definitions:

  • Set” is to place in some relation to something or someone
  • To be “set apart” is defined: to reserve for a particular purpose, or to cause to be noticed

As Christians, we are set into relationship with Jesus Christ through His sacrifice. He has called us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16).

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 ESV

That is, to be dedicated to God and not to the things of this world.  If we are “set apart for the One we love,” we are reserved for a particular purpose.  That purpose is to worship and serve Him.

And so, dear brothers and sisters,
I plead with you to give your bodies to God
because of all He has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship Him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,
which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

When we are set apart for God, we will be noticed because our lifestyle looks different.  We think differently, talk differently, and act differently than those around us who don’t have that relationship.  We make God our first love, focusing on our relationship with Him, allowing Him to refine us, and in our lives making Him known to others.

As I listen to this song, I’m singing and praying these words.  As we are coming into the Easter season, I think many of us are searching our own hearts.  God is holy.  We, as His children, are set apart for His glory.  But we are human, and we fail in our own efforts to be worthy of that place in His family.  Sometimes in the crazy busyness of this life we forget our first love (much as the church of Ephesus did, read Revelation 2:1-7.)  The exciting thing about being one of God’s children, is that when we repent, and come back to our first love, God is waiting “to be found” so He can refine our hearts.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

You can be sure of this: The LORD set apart the godly for Himself.
The LORD will answer when I call to Him.
Psalm 4:3

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that He swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations…

Deuteronomy 7:6-9

These verses thrill me because we are a part of “…to a thousand generations.”  God loves us so much that through the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, He set us apart to be His holy people.  What amazing grace!  Now it is our turn to lay down everything for Him alone.  It’s time to allow His Holy Spirit to refine our hearts, and to be set apart for God’s glory.  It’s time to come back to our first love, and give everything to Him, for He is worthy.

  *   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Dear God, thank You for Your great love and sacrifice for us, Your children.  As we worship with this song and Your Word, we rededicate our lives to be holy, set apart for You.  Through Your Holy Spirit, please help us to set aside the things of this world, and allow You to refine us so that we may be witnesses for the sake of Your glory.  In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen.

At The Cross (Love Ran Red)

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the Cross
At the Cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You, Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

Here my Hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down

Written by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jonas Myrin, Matt Armstrong, Matt Redman

  *  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

The center stage of our Christian faith is the Cross.  There our Savior, Jesus Christ, allowed Himself to be hanged on that torturous cross to bleed, suffocate, and die.  Why would anyone do such a thing? Because,

God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Sin and shame imprison everyone.  They bind us in chains that cannot be broken—but for God.  God in His mercy (His compassion) and grace (unmerited favor) loved(s) us, His creation, so much that He chose to make the perfect sacrifice for all people through the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus.  Jesus’ blood was more powerful than any sin or shame that we have ever endured or will ever endure.  Jesus shed His blood for each of us.  His blood dripping from that Cross was His love running red, flowing down into the very depths of our soul to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Here are just a few Scriptures that make it clear that we in our sins are powerless, but that the blood from God’s perfect sacrifice, Jesus His Son, is powerful enough to wash our ugly sins as white as snow.

All of us also lived among them (children of disobedience) at one time,
gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
But because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions
—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:3-5

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous.
He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.
For God presented Jesus as the Sacrifice for sin.
People are made right with God
when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.
Romans 3:22-25

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

The Royal blood of Jesus is more powerful than all our sins.  His “love ran red and my (our) sin washed white.”  There at the Cross sin is powerless.  There at the Cross is where love, forgiveness, hope, and peace are found.  When we personally accept Jesus’ great sacrificial love for ourselves, we are made right with God.  From that point on we can have a personal relationship with Him.  His Holy Spirit will dwell with us.  And we can be assured that we will spend eternity with God.

If you have not yet accepted God’s love for you, please take the time today to do this.  God gave His Son.  Jesus gave His blood.  What are you willing to give for such love?  I pray that you give Him your all.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

  *  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

Dear Jesus, thank You so much for allowing Yourself to be the Sacrifice, once and for all, to save us from our sins and shame.  We bow before You on holy ground with our arms open wide, because here at the Cross Your blood (love) ran red so our sins could be washed white. You have saved us.  Herein is our Hope.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!  In Jesus’ Name we praise and worship our God of Love.  Amen, It is so!

 

Proclaim Allegiance to His Name

seekingHimthanksgivinggraphic

Through Him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of lips which confess His name.
Hebrews 13:15

The New Living Translation says it this way:

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God,
proclaiming our allegiance to His Name.

The phase “proclaiming our allegiance to His Name” popped out at me. It sounded so different than the other translations that refer to “the fruit of lips that confess His Name.” I just had to do a little research to understand what this verse is really saying.

  • To “confess” God’s Name is to declare, state, acknowledge His Name
  • To “proclaim allegiance” is to announce publicly, or to declare something one considers important with due emphasis, which in this case would be one’s loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior

What sacrifice do I/we offer to God for the sacrifice He made for us by giving His Only Son, Jesus?

What sacrifice do I/we offer to Jesus for Him sacrificing His very lifeblood to cleanse us of our sins?

I thought about missionaries on a foreign field who have sacrificed their house, their car, their homeland, and perhaps even their safety, to proclaim their allegiance to God and to share the Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice. Truly in God’s eyes, that is a continual sacrifice of praise to Him.

I also thought about the pastor of a little struggling country church. He has confessed, proclaimed allegiance to God by faithfully serving for years with little or no salary, so that others would hear of Jesus’ sacrifice for them. Yes, that, too, is a continual sacrifice of praise to God. 1 Peter 2:5 (AMP) says,

[Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house,
for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices
[that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

God is calling each of us through Jesus Christ to sacrifice ourselves, to be dedicated and consecrated, to the position (priesthood) of pleasing God with our proclamation of allegiance. We don’t have to be a missionary or a country pastor to please God. What pleases God is our private and our public continual sacrifice of praise and declaration of Him and His salvation through Jesus Christ.

Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
Say to Him,
Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
so that we may offer You our praises.
Hosea 14:2

Our sacrifices are to be in the manner of adoration, worship, prayer, thanksgiving, allegiance, confession, and dedication. God is great and greatly to be praised. Our genuine praise will have no end.

Great is the LORD!
He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure His greatness.
Psalm 145:3

*  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

Dear Lord God, we come to You today with our sacrifices of praise on our lips.  You are worthy beyond words to receive all of our praise, and not just those of thanksgiving but also those of public confession and allegiance.  Holy Spirit, please help us to be strong and brave as we express publicly our thankfulness and our allegiance to God.  May our sacrifice of praise show others the way to You through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  In Jesus’ Name we ask these things, Amen.

Shackles (Praise You)

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Whoo!
It sure is hot out here, Ya know
I don’t mind though
Just glad to be free
Know what I’m saying, uh!

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
(What’cha wanna do?)
I just wanna praise You
(Yeah, yeah)

You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
(Uh feel me?)
And I’m gonna praise You
(What’cha gon do?)
I’m gonna praise You

In the corners of mind
I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe
That I can break free
‘Cause You see I have been down for so long
Feel like the hope is gone
But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

Everything that could go wrong
All went wrong at one time
So much pressure fell on me
I thought I was gon lose my mind
But I know You wanna see If I will hold on through these trials
But I need You to lift this load
‘Cause I can’t take it anymore

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

Been through the fire and the rain
Bound in every kind of way
But God has broken every chain
So let me go right now

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Be joyful always;
pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always?  Give thanks in all circumstances?  Seems like a tough one, doesn’t it?  When things are going really well for us, I hear folks saying “God is good!”, but are we saying that when things AREN’T going our way??  We should! God is good, friends, ALL THE TIME!

I have a playlist on my computer simply called “Praise.”  This song (Shackles) leads the group.  Whenever things seem to be a bit overwhelming or I’m having a particularly rough day, I crank that playlist and sing with all I’ve got.

Psalm 100 tells us:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

You see, it’s not about MY circumstance, it’s about HIM.  I know who I belong to, and the One who made me is good, He loves me and will be faithful to me!  So I praise him through ALL circumstances.  I don’t have to like the circumstance, but I do love God, and I trust that when He tells me that He works all things for my good (Romans 8:28), that He is able to turn anything around!  As an added bonus, when I focus on praising God, I take my attention off myself which then allows God to lift my spirits!

Why not try it today?  Crank up this song and sing and dance unto the Lord!

  • Praise Him for His greatness and love for you!
  • Praise Him for having all things under control!
  • Praise Him for loving you unconditionally and caring about the circumstance in which you find yourself – no matter how challenging!

Then feel how those waves of praise come back to you in the peace and love of Jesus.  Praise the Lord!!  😀  Have a wonderful day filled with the love of God!

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed

How can it be, the One who died
Has born our sin through sacrifice
To conquer every sting of death
Sing, sing Hallelujah

For joy awakes as dawning light
When Christ’s disciples lift their eyes
Alive He stands, their Friend and King
Christ, Christ He is risen

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed
Oh, sing Hallelujah
Join the chorus, sing with the redeemed
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed

Where doubt and darkness once had been
They saw Him and their hearts believed
But blessed are those who have not seen
Yet, sing Hallelujah

Once bound by fear now bold in faith
They preached the truth and power of grace
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save
He frees our hearts to live His grace
Go tell of His goodness

He’s alive, He’s alive
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive, He’s alive
Now in Heaven glorified

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Songwriters: Keith&Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash / Performed by Keith&Kristyn Getty

 *  ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~  *

It’s a traditional Easter greeting as old as the first-century Church.  One says, “He is risen!” the other answers, “He is risen indeed!”  What a joyous way to greet each other!

Easter has become quite a joyful time for me over the last few years.  Growing up, I was raised in a church tradition/denomination that celebrated Easter, but not with as much focus as I do currently.  Do you know what really made a difference for me?  One year I read my Bible from cover to cover.  (If you haven’t, you should – it’s amazing!)  Far from being outdated and irrelevant, the Old Testament showed me how much God truly loves His people.  Before Jesus, there were a pretty strict set of rules in relation to how you would be considered righteous before God.  When the Israelites fell short of the rules, blood was required in the form of sacrifice to cleanse sin.  In addition, only priests could come into the Presence of God in the temple/tabernacle. If you messed up, you brought your perfect sacrifice to the priest who would offer up prayers, petitions, and make atonement on your behalf.  As you can imagine, the priests were probably pretty busy, continually offering up sacrifices to cleanse the people of their sins.  This continued for hundreds of years!

Now enter Jesus.  When John the Baptist sees Jesus and says “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), my heart always starts beating faster. Jesus was IT, the final and perfect Sacrifice.  The blood requirement for all time that would cover every sin for everyone.  Jesus was (and still is) the Son of God, a revolutionary person that loved you and I so much that he willingly gave His life so that you and I could live with God forever!

Understand me here, friends.  JESUS LOVES YOU!!  Jesus wasn’t tricked into dying for us.  He wasn’t forced into it.  He’s not sitting in Heaven angry with you for having to be crucified.  He willingly took our punishment so that we could be free!  LOVE died for you.  And guess what?  LOVE lives for you, in Heaven!  The grave couldn’t hold him!  Death couldn’t keep him!  Jesus kicked death in the face and told him – “you’ve got NOTHING on me!!” (My modern day translation…)  And the power, the beautiful power that raised Christ from the dead – you know, the Holy Spirit!– It LIVES in you and me when we give our lives to Jesus.  Hallelujah!!!  Just like our Lord, you aren’t a victim – you’re a victor!  Our bodies may decay, but our spirits are not bound by death – Jesus triumphed over death and evil so that we, too, could be triumphant!  If you can work through what that means in your life—if you can truly get your head wrapped around it and live like you believe it—you will be amazed at the change it brings in your life!  It did to me.

When I realized that Jesus LOVED me so much that He died for me…that He wasn’t mad at me…that He wanted me to live a full and abundant life…my life changed dramatically.  I went from being delivered from sin, to living a life of freedom in Christ!  You can too!  Jesus’ triumph over the grave means total freedom!  So, do I love Easter??  You bet!  It’s the ultimate celebration and glimpse of the glorious time we will be having in Heaven!

So I praise God and His glorious Son, Jesus with every ounce of my being!!  CHRIST IS RISEN!!  What say you, friends??

This Is Amazing Grace

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
And leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of glory, the King above all kings.

This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love.
That You would take my place. That You would bear my cross.
You laid down your life that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Who brings our chaos back into order?
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of glory, the King of glory.

Who rules the nations with truth and justice?
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of glory, the King above all kings!

Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain.
Worthy is the King Who conquered the grave.
Worthy! Worthy!

This is amazing grace. This is unfailing love.
That You would take my place. That You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life, that I would be set free.
Oh, Jesus I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

~  Sing this song with me as our prayer and worship today.  ~

Written by Phil Wickham and Jeremy Riddle/Performed by Phil Wickham

 *  ~  *  ~    ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥    ~  *  ~  * 

It was five words that would change my life forever: “God is not mad at you.”  Let me give you some backstory.  I have a rich heritage of Christ followers in my family.  My grandparents laid a strong foundation of faith that has reached and shaped generations.  I was attending church in the womb – you know what I’m saying? I came to Christ at an early age, but for some reason this truth never really sunk in as it should.  I heard those five words a little over four years ago, after I married and began to return to worshipping regularly.  I thought “This guy is crazy.  He needs to stop telling folks that God is not mad at them. We’ve all sinned. God hates sin. How can he tell these people God is not mad?”  The man continued to talk about how much God loves us.  I mean, I knew that. But I began to read in my Bible to get some answers.  I needed proof to back up everything I’d learned, right?

Perhaps you’ve heard the same things I did growing up.  That my sin placed Jesus on the cross.  That every time I sinned I nailed him back up there. We learn guilt and shame and “we’re not worthy of the blood of Jesus.”  True.  We are not worthy. But what does John 3:16 say?  “God so loved the world….” Loved. LOVED the world. Loved the world so much that he gave his Son. Not that He was so angry with the world.  Not that He was so mad at the world.  Not that He was so exasperated that He was forced to send Jesus.  Nope.  LOVE.  It took me a while to come to grips with that truth, to be honest. I had to pray about it. I needed God to help me break some strongholds of religion and denomination and come to grips with what The Word said.  Can you understand what I’m saying?  You want a pure relationship with God?  You need to allow Him to break down your barriers to his unbelievable, unfathomable, supernatural, all-powerful, relentless love for you. “Yeah, but you don’t know….” I can hear those wheels turning in your head.  So can God.  Sorry, friend. God is bigger than your objections. HE. LOVES. YOU.

He loves you so much that He GAVE His Son in your place. It’s called the “divine exchange.”  Jesus took on your garbage so you could have the good stuff. MANY books have been written on the topic.  If you’d like some awesome reading, I will suggest “Bought with Blood” by Derek Prince. With Scripture it shows you exactly what Jesus took in our place when He died for us, and what we receive in return.  I could seriously be here all day talking about what happened on the Cross, but here’s a teaser, so that you can allow God to show you Himself:

  • Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven
  • Jesus was wounded that we might be healed
  • Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness
  • Jesus tasted death for us that we might share His life
  • Jesus was made a curse that we might receive the blessing
  • Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance
  • Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory
  • Jesus endured my rejection that I might have His acceptance with the Father
  • He was cut off that we might be joined to the Lord
  • Our old man was put to death in Him that the new man might come to life in us

Hallelujah!  This is why I love this song – it reminds me of how AWESOME God is and how deeply Jesus loves us.  “Jesus, I DO sing for all that You’ve done for me!”  Friend, let me tell you today: God is not mad at you.  God loves you.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Him to show you, just like I did.  Believe Him when He shows you.  Then watch what unfailing love can do in YOUR life!

Your Love is Like a River – third day

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

 ~  Listen while you read, please!  ~

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart

When this cruel world tears us apart
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart
When sharpened words have left their scars
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart
And it’s overflowing and showing us all
How deep and how wide is your love

It never stops, it rages on
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart

When I am tired and so afraid
Your love is like a fire that will light my way
When darkness falls and my vision fades
Your love is like a fire that will light my way
And it’s always burning and stirring my soul
To love you and love you much more

It never stops or ever fades
Your love is like a fire that will light my way

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna stop
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s flowing from my heart

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna fade
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
Your love will light my way

When all my strength and hope is gone
Your love is like a rock that I am standing on

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna stop
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s flowing from my heart
Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
It’s never gonna fade

Oh, oh, oh, ooh, oh, oh, oh
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart
Your love is like a fire that will light my way
Your love is like a rock that I am standing on
Your love is like a river flowing from my heart

~   Performed by Third Day  ~

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

God said to Moses: ‘Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites.  Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea.  Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.  Meanwhile I’ll make sure the Egyptians keep up their stubborn chase – I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God.’  The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them.  And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear.  The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel.  The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light.  The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.  Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back.  He made the sea dry ground.  The seawaters split.  The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left.

Exodus 14:15-22 (MSG)

I LOVE this song.  The first time I heard it I broke down and wept – hard.  One of those ugly cries that leave you emotionally drained, unable to breathe and a sopping, wet mess.  You see, God knows where to hit you right where you live.  He knows how to speak to the deepest hurt, the deepest disappointment, the deepest fear, the deepest discouragement.  Ever since we decided we were going to build a house, my husband and I both have been in an extremely challenging season.  What would seem to be a joyous occasion (which it is, don’t misunderstand, I am extremely grateful for the home we are building) has also been one of great trial, testing, strain, and obedience.   As we are nearing completion, I am in a fairly constant state of emotional exhaustion.  Satan attacks often with words of doubt fear and worry.   How many times have I prayed for strength, for reassurance, for guidance, for deliverance, for my marriage?  Does the phrase “pray without ceasing” ring any bells?

Then I am reminded of the Israelites.  How God rescued them from the bondage of slavery.  And not only did He rescue them once—He continually placed them in situations that were out of their control—only to rescue them again.  Sisters, this is a hard truth, but also one we need to recognize and own in our lives: sometimes God will lead us into difficult places so that we can learn to trust Him.  Only when I allow Him to take over my situation do I have peace.  When I try to do this on my own I have doubt, fear and worry.  It’s a daily tug of war, ladies—the “I can do it by myself” versus “Ok, God, YOU do it.”

Enter this beautiful song that reminds us that when we are going through our toughest times, God’s love is there.  Period.  His love is everything I need to be whole.  It’s a river that washes away hurts and wounds and soothes us.  It’s the Pillar of Fire that lights our way when we are weary and tired and groping our way around, lost in the dark.  It’s the ROCK that we can stand on when we have nothing left and it feels like the ground beneath our feet has suddenly given way and we are falling, falling….

It’s never gonna stop.

It’s never gonna fade.

His love is like a river.

{{  Thank You, God, for loving us so much and so relentlessly!  }}

Forgiveness – Matthew West

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

~  Listen while you read, please!  ~

It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word—”forgiveness”

It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free”

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible…forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you—Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible—forgiveness
I want to finally set it free so show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me—forgiveness

~  Matthew West  ~

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word—”forgiveness”

Sisters, do you want the most of what God has planned for you?  Do you want to feel the FULL expression of God’s love?  Then you have to step out in faith and forgive. This song by Matthew West came to mind last night after praying for a choir member who is going to see his dying, aged father this weekend for the first time in over 30 years.  He is going to forgive his father, and seeking forgiveness himself.  This song would not leave my mind all night, so I figured God put it heavily on my heart and mind because he needed me to share it with you all—and also make sure my own plate is clean.

It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’—Forgiveness

Some of you may feel offended or irritated that I would suggest that to feel the full measure of God’s love that you would need to forgive others.  You might be thinking right now of a person who you should forgive but don’t want to.  You know of someone that justifiably deserves your anger for all of the wrong committed against you, right?  I don’t know what you’re going through.  That’s true…I don’t.  (But God does.)

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible…forgiveness

You see, God does understand.  He sees your life.  He sees you’re hurt.  He knows the pain that has been brought on you by others.  But He says to lay your cares on Him, to let Him avenge your wrongs—He is faithful to do those things for you, because He loves you.  He also knows that when you don’t forgive someone, the person it really hurts is YOU.  The anger, the emotion, the pain – it keeps you in bondage. When you don’t give that person over to God to deal with, you remain a captive to the hurt you feel.  The circumstance has power of you, not the other way around.  And, in case this hasn’t crossed your mind lately, when was the last time you hurt God?

It’ll clear the bitterness away, it can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you—Forgiveness

Was it yesterday that you sinned against God?  Have you even made it this far into the day before you’ve done something that could separate you eternally from the presence of Jesus?  Do you really understand the power of God’s love and forgiveness toward you?  In 1 John 1:9, the Bible says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God can (and will) forgive us daily.  If you’ve truly felt the full measure of God’s forgiveness—why not extend that to someone else?

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible—forgiveness
I want to finally set it free so show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me—forgiveness

You know, no one said forgiveness is easy.  And you may not forgive others because you don’t fully realize what it feels to be forgiven.  You may not accept the gift that forgiveness is.  But God is here to help you—to help you accept your own forgiveness, and to help you forgive another.  Try it today…and experience freedom from the bondage of hurt!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Let’s pray:  Dear Lord, thank You for Your abundant forgiveness.  Please help me to forgive others as You have forgiven me.  Help me to extend the same healing power to others as I have received.  Where I am resistant, help me change.  Break down the bondage of unbelief.  Free me from the need to get revenge.  Help me to trust that You will vindicate me.  Help me to see others how Your mercy sees them.  Help me to love those who have hurt me.  Forgive me where I have hurt others and hurt You. Help me to walk in freedom!  In Your Son’s name, Amen.

CHRISTLife — Twenty: Alive With His Life

cl alive with his life

When you were born again in Christ, did you sense that your innermost being was passing from death into life?  Ephesians 2:1 and 2 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air.  But….”  (read on, dear sister!)

But God—so rich is He in His mercy!
Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful
and intense love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead (slain)
by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses,
He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
[He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life
with which He quickened Him, for]
it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve)
that you are saved (delivered from judgment
and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).
Ephesians 2:4 and 5 AMP

To satisfy His intense love for us, God through Christ made us alive in union with Him.  He gave us the same life He gave Jesus Christ so we could be saved!  Oh, what mercy and grace!

Alive” what does that mean to you?  To get a good perspective, I looked up the definition of “alive.”  Some definitions that struck me were—’not just living but alert…active…vital…and energetic’.  Romans 6:11 NLT, “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive [alert, TLB] to God through Christ Jesus.

Then I found this quote from Adolf Deissman, a professor of theology in two major universities in Germany from 1897 to 1935.

“Just as all men live in the air, and cannot live without air,
so the Christian lives in Christ…To be in Christ is to live a life
in which Christ is the atmosphere which we breathe.”

Christ is the very atmosphere in which I “live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28 NIV).  As Michael W. Smith’s song, “Breathe” states,

I’m desperate for You, I’m lost without You. You are the very air I breathe!

This union with Christ has given us full access to “the life-giving God” (1 Timothy 6:13 Message). Even Jesus refers over and over to God as His/our source of life:

…I (Jesus) live because of the Father…
John 6:57

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.
John 5:26

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.
Luke 20:38

John 17:20-26 records Jesus’ prayer for all future people who would become believers (that includes us).

I pray also for those who will believe in Me
through their (the disciples’) message,
that all of them may be one, Father,
just as You are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be in Us
so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.
I have given them the glory that You gave Me,
that they may be one as We are one—
I in them and You in Me—
so that they may be brought to complete unity.
Then the world will know that You sent Me
and have loved them even as You have loved Me.

Do you see that, ladies?  Jesus asked His Father to spiritually unite us as He and the Father are united.  The only way that is possible is for each of us to have the same Spirit—“I in them and You in Me.”  Our spiritual aliveness is from the life of Jesus Christ Himself, “The very Source, the Author of life” (Acts 3:15 AMP), and our unity is because of that oneness in Christ.

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He was determined that we would remain in Him—to be alive, alert, vital, and active—so He gave us the wonderful gift of His Holy Spirit to help us.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you
another Advocate, who will never leave you.
He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…
you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.
John 14:16-17 NLT

It is the Spirit who gives life…
John 6:63 NASB

How do we continue to grow in this aliveness?  We need to renew our minds (Romans 12:2 KJV).  We do that by daily feeding on “The True Bread of God… anyone who feeds on Me will live because of Me” John 6:33 and 57 NLT.  This is Jesus’ promise to us.  The world would like us to think that if we satisfy our own cravings and lust that we will really live.  Oh, they are so misled (1 John 2:15-17)!  Those things will never satisfy the hunger that was placed in us when we were created.  It can only be satisfied by Christ, Himself.

I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”
John 14:6

…the man/woman who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17

As I learn and grow by spending time in His Word, I know Christ better.  As I know Him better, I fall more in love with Him.  In that love, I am alive, alert, active, and vital for Him.

“You are the God who preserves alive all living things (1 Timothy 6:13 AMP).
I acknowledge that all of my life—physical and spiritual—
is in Your hands and under Your control.”
—Ruth Myers, page 87

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Dear Lord, thank You for desiring us to be alive in You.  We are desperate for more of You.  You ARE the very air we breathe.  Help us to renew our minds and satisfy our hunger by feeding on Your Word daily.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who sustains, comforts, and guides us in our aliveness in You.  In the Name of our Living Lord, Jesus Christ, we pray.  Amen.

 

CHRISTLife — Chapter 15: Knowing My Need

CLfridaygraphicBefore Christ, I was “spiritually dead, defiled, disobedient, and deceived.” I was “empty, enslaved, and self-willed.” Then at the age of six, I knelt at an altar of prayer, and those things were washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s true, I was all those ugly things. Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Romans 3:10, “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one;” No matter at what age you got saved, I know you are saying with me, “Praise God, He saved me from all of that and so much more!”

However, I am still needy. How about you? In our flesh we are still prone toward “doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21, ESV). As humans we still have our limitations, and we still sin. So we must continually “acknowledge our deep need for God and cast away our self-centered pride.” God can only work in us when we admit that we are His child, and as a child we are dependent on Him to care for us and help us in our weaknesses. Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Even though we have many wonderful qualities, we can’t take personal credit and think too highly of ourselves. Instead, we must see that it is not by our works but by His mercy that we do anything good.

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5 NLT

If we never had any needs—emotionally, physically, psychologically, or spiritually—we would never realize just how needy we are for God. He created us for Himself. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness….’”

Adam and Eve spent time in God’s presence. But as I think about them, I’m not sure they truly understood their need for Him until they had sinned and realized they weren’t “presentable” anymore.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He (Adam) replied, “I heard You walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
Genesis 3:8-10 NLT

After God told Adam and Eve how their sin would affect their lives from then on, He forgave them and, through the sacrifice of animals (Genesis 3:21), He provided for their need. Life wasn’t easy (verses 22-24), but the good news is that it kept them humble and in relationship with Him.

For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His own people.
Psalm 69:33 ESV

He stands beside the needy, ready to save them.
Psalm 109:31 NLT

The more we study God’s Word and spend time with Him, the more we will recognize our shortcomings and our great need for Him to reign in our lives. We will find our help is in the Lord, as God tells us in Isaiah 41:17-20, “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.”

As pride is gotten under control, God doesn’t want us to think too lowly of ourselves either. David said (Psalm 40:17 NLT) that even though he was needy—God was thinking about him! Please meditate on this Scripture because it shows us just how significant we actually are to our Father God. He is thinking about you and me!

Yes, we are needy. I know I personally need more love, more patience, more self-control, more—you name it. As I grow in God’s Word, I will see how He is providing for me, protecting me, guiding and guarding me. I will see more clearly how much He loves me. How about you? Have you taken time to see your needs? Have you looked into God’s Word to see how much He wants to help you? Do you know today that God loves you, my friend, and He wants only His best for you? That’s His message to you right now. Our Lord is saying to you, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

May these Scriptures be your heart cry today:

The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 29:19 NLT

Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor You.
With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever, for Your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Psalms 86:11-13 NLT

Whom have I in Heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth.
Psalm 73:25 NLT

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Dear Lord and Savior of our souls, thank You for loving us beyond our comprehension. Thank You for loving us enough to save us. Thank You for continuing to show us Your love by revealing to us our areas of weakness so we will repent, be forgiven, and become more like You. We acknowledge our need for You. May we always hunger and thirst for You, Lord, for You promise to answer us and never abandon us. We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen.