It’s A Place We Live

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Repentance is not a place we visit.  It’s a place we live!  James McDonald

I’ve had to be broken, stretched, challenged, and changed—and I don’t want to get over it. I want to stay right in that place, and I invite you to join me there.

Why? Because repentance is a life-giving thing. It’s the cry in the mouth of almost every one of God’s messengers in the Bible. They were all calling on God’s people to repent. And not just once in a while. “Repent!” was often the whole message. When John the Baptist showed up, what was his message?“Repent” (Matthew 3:2a). “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Pray
Lord, thank You for speaking to me by Your Word. I am pierced by the thought that anything in me would resist those moments when You grant me repentance and open my eyes to the truth. I want to experience life deep in Your presence. I want to be ever open to Your correction, longing for the awareness of my unworthiness that draws me to You. Create in me a clean heart, O Lord; whatever it takes. I ask You this in Jesus’ name, amen.

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The Cross Made The Difference

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Without the cross I would have no good news to share with others. I would have no message of salvation. Missionaries would have nothing to say that could help lost people. The cross is at the very heart of the gospel (see 1 Cor. 15:3–“Christ died for our sins”).

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.1 Cor. 2:2)

The cross teaches us a lesson on humility in another way. When we look at the cross, we see how the Lord humbled Himself, was willing to become a man, and was even willing to die a criminal’s death on the cross (Phil. 2:7-8). His example teaches us to walk humbly before God and men? If our Savior was meek and lowly, do we dare be proud?

If My People

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If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”

God is speaking…

God is speaking to His people.  John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Pray:  Thank you Father that through Jesus you know my name.  Direct me today and show me how to live for you.

Shall humble himself…

James 4:6  God resists the proud but gives Grace to the humble.

Prayer:  Lord God, reveal to me how I have become proud.  Help me Lord, to turn to You with a humble and open heart.

…AND PRAY….

God desires that you come before Him and spend time in His presence.

Pray:  Hear my prayer dear Lord as I bow my heart to You and seek You.

And seek my face….

God wants you to know Him in a personal and intimate way.  He wants you to know His heart.

Pray:  Lord, I come before you seeking You, draw me close to you to renew a relationship that seems to have grown cold.  I want to spend time with You today

….And turn from their wicked ways….

Allow God to look into your heart.  John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Pray:  Father, I know there is no sin so big that you cannot forgive, and no sin so small that you will overlook.  Forgive me Father and allow me to walk with You in a new way without the heavy burden of sin.

…then…

The next phrases tell you that after you have done those things required by God, He will then do those things that only He can do.  He will hear from heaven, He will forgive our sins, and He will heal our land.

Pray:  Heavenly Father, I look for your forgiveness and healing touch for me, for my family, for my church, and for my country.

 

 

Empathy Is Important For Christians

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The one thing that I am learning is that as Christians we need empathy.  Why?  The reason is simple, so we can share in the suffering and pain of our friends and fellow Christians.

I have found in my life that the Lord often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad to our deepest calling.  It is because of the hardships the Lord has allowed in my life, I’m able to feel more than sympathy and give my friends the gift of empathy. It’s a hard-won, precious gift.

The definition of empathy according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the “feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s place when you have no point of reference. But as God allows certain experiences in our lives, we don’t have to imagine empathy because we feel it automatically; it is a gift we can give a hurting person.

My second child Casey passed away from congenital heart disease.  The pain of losing my son is something I carry with me always. I know what it is to live with pain — emotional and physical. It is from that hardship (among others), I am able to draw from a deep well of empathy.

I was talking with a new friend the other day, and she started sharing how she lost a daughter a few years ago. The hurt she felt was still so raw that she started crying. Tears came to my eyes as I shared that I knew exactly how she felt, because I had gone through the same thing. I explained my feelings of loss, how there will always be a hole in my life where Casey should be no matter how much time has passed. How I often think of how old he would be now and how the pain deepens on important days like his birthday, when he would have graduated from high school etc.. Yet I know my son is with the Lord, and it is only sad for those of us left behind. My friend nodded through her tears and said no one ever understands how she feels. Empathy is a bridge of understanding; through my own loss I could share in hers.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  We are taught as Christians to share our friends emotional experiences. I am drawn to the action words of this statement. It doesn’t say, “Feel bad for those who are mourning.” It says we need to literally cry with them. Have the same emotion they are having — with a passion — one that brings forth tears. This is a powerful teaching Paul is trying to get across to the church in Rome and ultimately to all Christians. We are all called to show grace and love to hurting people, even when we can only guess at how they feel, but the true depth of empathy is achieved through experience.

Christ was our ultimate example of empathy. He literally put himself in our place when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So when God allows us to go through a hardship, we should consider it a privilege to suffer as our Lord Jesus suffered and use our experience to bless others.

It takes a brave person to pray for empathy, braver than me, but God allows experiences in my life that “teach” me this gift. Trials in our lives have many purposes; it took a long time of walking with the Lord and studying His Word for me to discover the lessons hidden in my own hardships and sufferings. They are often for our growth: to teach us reliance on God, to draw us back or closer to our Savior, or to give us empathy for our neighbor.

As Christians, we have a higher calling. We have been bought at a price and are no longer our own, but humble servants to our Heavenly Father. The greatest commandments are to love our Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love others as ourselves. In a world rampant with selfishness, vanity, bullying and greed, God offers us a better way. We are after all His hands and feet, and what better way to represent our Lord and serve others than with the gift of empathy?

Word Of God

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I remember being a new Christian and wondering “How can Jesus and the Bible both be the Word of God?”  As my walk with the Lord grew I began to realize some really important truths:

That the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Jesus showed us a link between the written Word of God and Himself, in that He is the subject of the written Word, it is His biography: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

I learned that the phrase “word of God” means more than the printed words on a page. God is a communicator and has been speaking to us since the beginning. He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1), through ancient prophets (Hosea 12:10; Hebrews 1:1), through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 16:6), through Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:9). We can learn to know God better by seeking to hear Him ( and really listen) in every way that He speaks.  Isn’t that good news!   All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

(Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV) “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. {12} Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. {13} And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Prayer Journal

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This year in 2017 I’ve been taking steps to be more intentional about my prayer life.  One of my goals is to develop a regular prayer time. While I usually wake up around 5:30 for daily Bible reading, I haven’t found a good way to work prayer into this time. Some days I’ll pray for 5 minutes prior to my reading; some days I’ll pray for 30 minutes afterward. Sometimes I pray over a list of people; most times my prayers are random, sporadic, and rambling So,

I have started a prayer journal.

I have put in the date of my request then write it out.  I try to leave space in between so that I can add requests as they come to me.

I also have pages based on events or things I want to see God do and praises.  I pray for my family every day and then work through the additional pages as time permits and God brings them to mind.

Once it is answered, I highlight the prayer request so I can see very clearly all God is doing. On those days when I feel discouraged, I can scan over all that is highlighted and with assurance see God is at work!

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Walk Humbly

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God’s Word says, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”

To “Walk humbly” is a heart’s attitude toward God.   God’s people depend on Him rather than their own abilities.  Instead of taking pride in what we bring to God, we humbly recognize that no amount of personal sacrifice can replace a heart committed to justice and love. The response of a godly heart is outward (do justice), inward (love mercy), and upward (walk humbly).

Have you ever thought about this? Doing justice is having empathy and concern for those who are left out, unwanted, abused, and oppressed. Loving kindness is being considerate, compassionate, thoughtful, and actively working and looking for the good of others. Walking humbly with God is seeing God and yourself from the right perspective, being thankful for His grace.

Today, when it seems that religious faith is seen by the world as negative and even bigoted, I hope you will consider God’s Word. Only one person in all of history has lived up to this standard, and that was Jesus Christ. He alone was just and kind and walked with His Father, God. He can help you live out life today as a demonstration of what true faith is. Why not try it?  We are sometimes the only Jesus people see.