When I think about how difficult it is to live a Christian life today, it is sobering to see the sacrifice made by others from another era.Perhaps these words, shared with me by JoAnn, will bless you as they have me.
"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus...Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:1, 3).
The post of honor in war is so called because it is attended by difficulties and dangers to which but few are equal; yet generals usually allot these hard services to their favorites and friends, who on their part eagerly take them as tokens of favor and marks of confidence.
Should we not, therefore, count it an honor and a privilege when the Captain of our salvation assigns us a difficult post, since He can and does inspire His soldiers, which no earthly commander can, with wisdom, courage, and strength suitable to their situation?
Listen to Ignatius shouting as the lion's teeth tear his flesh, "Now I begin to be a Christian!"
No church or movement can survive unless it is ready to be crucified.
(By Bishop of Winchester)
If I did not see that the Lord kept watch over the ship, I should long since have abandoned the helm.But I see Him! Through the storm, strengthening the tacking, handling the yards, spreading the sails---aye, more, commanding the very winds!Should I not be a coward if I abandoned my post?Let Him govern, let Him carry us forward, let Him hasten or delay, we will fear nothing!(By Martin Luther)
For us, swords drawn, up to the gate of heaven:
Oh, may no coward spirit seek to leaven
The warrior code, the calling that is ours!
Forbid that we should sheathe our sword in flowers!
Captain beloved, battle wounds were Thine,
Let me not wonder if some hurt be mine.
Rather, O Lord, let my deep wonder be
That I may share a battle wound with Thee.
GospeLines Prayer: Eternal God, I cry out to know You better today than yesterday, in my victories as in my defeats; in my joy and in my suffering.Empower me to endure the unpleasantries of 21st century discipleship, and endow me with the ability to serve You faithfully without whining.Thank you for the testimonies of martyrs, who served You well both in life and death.Amen and amen.
≈ Devotional for Tuesday, July 27, 2010
“Change is Gonna Come”
Have you ever had a near-death experience?Have you seen your life passing before your eyes and perished at the thought of what might have been if God hadn’t offered you mercy?
While not a regular on these social networking sites, I experienced an epiphany lately.My cousin, Allen, and I agreed to be “friends” after not communicating for over 30 years.(I am always amazed at how God uses various mediums to impart His message.)
There wasn’t a particular reason I can pinpoint as to why we were out of touch.(I suspect, in some ways, women communicate more often with each other.)We were living our respective lives and I heard of him through his mother, his brother and other relatives over the years and that was about the extent of it.
Now that we have reconnected, we have a lot of catching up to do and God used an opportunity to open a door for Him to minister to both of us.Interestingly enough, since our last communication, Allen has become a minister in New York.During one of our chats, he sent a link to a Christian radio station there and I was able to hear him on air via live stream.He prayed for those in need, played contemporary Christian music and gave a shout-out to his cousin, me, here in Texas.It was a beautiful thing to witness this ministry.
Although Allen has always performed and is a very gifted musician, he epitomizes a statement by Rev. Clay Evans--“You can't have a testimony unless you've been thru a test."
God has been in Allen’s life as long as he can remember, but as many of us, he didn’t always respond.He has been tested many times and one in particular provided the impetus to hear the Lord’s call and to get out of the life he had led far too long.As he shared, “my wife was praying, while I was playing.”Leah’s prayers, along with many others I’m certain, were certainly answered and now they are ministering together full-time, singing God’s praises at another church and have a state-of-the art music recording studio providing tools for rising artists to record their music and have it distributed to a global audience.I am thankful to know that He has opened his heart to God and that Satan’s grip appears to be in his rearview mirror.God has been merciful according to the prayer of repentance found in Psalm 51.
Prayer:Father, we have been given numerous wake-up calls.Thankfully, You reached a troubled man and heard the collective prayers of many.We thank You for turning his life around into service for Your glory.
We thank You for reconnecting two of Your children and for the many blessings You have bestowed to each of us.We sing Your praises jubilantly and thank You for giving us a clean heart, oh God.
Help us to continue to be a beacon of light to others in this dark world and to serve as reminders that You can use us just where we are; no matter our past pain and mistakes.With You, Lord…
Change is gonna come!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, July 28, 2010
“Living above our Hurt”
The people who consistently manifest the greatest joy in life are those who will simply not be discouraged by their circumstances. As author Zig Zigler says, "If life hands you a lemon, take the lemon and make lemonade."
Charles Goodyear's lemon was a prison sentence, resulting from a contempt of court citation. While in prison, Goodyear didn't complain. Instead, he became an assistant in the kitchen. While there, he continued to work on an idea. In the process he discovered a method for vulcanizing rubber. His lemon, a prison sentence, became our lemonade. We have better tires, resulting in better travel and a better way of life. See: Phil 1:12-14; Phil 4:11; 1 Thess 5:18 .
There is no darker dungeon than the prison of our own bitterness. It is filled with people who have chosen to hold on to their own hurt rather than experience the freedom of putting it aside. The only light is that of the Father who reminds us that we have a possession which has not been taken away, a right that is ours by new birth.....it is our relationship with God. Though others may disappoint us and hurt us, our most precious gift cannot be destroyed.
GospeLines Prayer: "Father, teach us that we have a gift more precious than life. Let us know that our relationship with you is all we need to feel truly free. Help us to overcome our own bitterness and hurt and stand victoriously with You, our strength and our Redeemer."
Many things can bring anguish to the human spirit; but, among all the things that can bring us grief, nothing is more painful than betrayal - and betrayal by someone close is the worst pain of all.Jesus said, "You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends..." (Luke 21:16 - NIV).Has this happened to you?
Any act by someone that breaks the trust or confidence you have placed in that person can be seen as betrayal.Whether something said, something done, or something left undone, it can cause a moral, ethical and/or psychological "rift" between individuals.Can this type of "rift" in relationships be repaired?Absolutely!
If the person who betrayed you acknowledges (confesses) that they have damaged the trust or confidence you have placed in them and shows true remorse (repents) for their actions, we are commanded to forgive them.(Luke 17:3-5 and Matthew 18:21-23)
But, what if the act of betrayal doesn't just cause a moral, ethical and/or psychological rift; what if it also causes a Spiritual rift?What if someone betrays you because of your faith?
After Jesus said we would be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, He added, "All men will hate you because of Me." (Luke 21:17 - NIV)
Jesus told us that people will lay hands on us and persecute us - that they will bring us up before various "religious" courts, throw us into prisons, and that governments would turn against us on account of His name. But He also admonished us to use those circumstances - those betrayals - as opportunities to be witnesses for the Gospel. By standing firm before Spiritual betrayals, we will gain life. (Luke 21:12-19).And, if those who hate us because of Jesus Christ will hear that Gospel, turn from their wicked ways, confess that Jesus is Who He says He is, repent of their sins and ask Christ to become the Lord of their life; we can not only repair the relationship between us and those by whom we were betrayed; we can facilitate repair of the relationship between them and God.With the help of the Holy Spirit working in and through us, we can turn betrayal into salvation and hate into love.
How often do you hear yourself mutter, "I can't," when asked to perform a task that causes you to stretch, or when your church presents a challenging ministry opportunity to you?
We learned from the heroes of Flight 93 how quickly “I can’t” changes to “I can” in desperate situations.Todd Beamer has become a household name in America and his words, "Let's roll," have a patriotic meaning which has memorialized the actions of a group of passengers who refused to believe they couldn't do what needed to be done.
Todd's wife, Lisa Beamer, has decided to go on living after the tragedy."God has whispered two words to me over and over: Look up…look up. Through that quiet voice, I'm reminded to look beyond my own little life to the Creator of the universe. Without fail, looking up brings peace to my soul."-- Lisa Beamer, from her best-selling new book Let's Roll!
Whatever challenges you are facing now, God has already enabled you to overcome them.Dig deeply within yourself, and reach up toward the One who can lift you above your circumstances and give you victory.That's the thing about God...He has abilities which go beyond our human resources if we will only tap into His power.My mother used to tell me, " 'I CAN'T' never could do anything."Instead of taking the easy way out, take hold of that great promise of Philippians 4:13, "I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH."
GospeLines Prayer: Father, I am not the bravest soldier in Your army, but I want to be strong in the face of adversity and challenge.Give me a "can do" attitude so that the next time opportunity comes my way, instead of saying "Let's run," I will trust You and, by faith, obediently proclaim, "Let's roll."Amen and amen.