Friday, September 30, 2005

You follow Me

�Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following�Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, �But Lord, what about this man?� Jesus said to him, �If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.�� John 21: 20-22

This verse makes me chuckle and reminds me of children�.and us. Can you just hear Peter saying, �What about him?� Can you just see your child pointing at a sibling and saying �What about her, she�s not doing her chores?� What is it that makes us think our obedience is somehow connected to others?
As a counselor I can�t count the number of times I�ve been told that the reason the person in my office is doing what they are is because they are just responding to what someone else in their life is doing. I think you know what I mean. Perhaps it�s your friend telling you that the reason she is so disrespectful to her husband is because he is not affectionate towards her. Maybe the person is you. Perhaps you are convincing yourself that it�s okay to come to work late, leave early or take a long lunch because that is what everyone in your office does and the boss has never complained.
I think Jesus� point is quite clear to Peter and to us. Regardless�you follow me. Regardless of what your husband does, you follow me. Regardless of how your boss behaves, you follow me. Regardless of how your children behave, you follow me. Regardless of the movies your friends watch, you follow me. Regardless of what is acceptable in other homes, you follow me. Regardless of how you feel, you follow me.
Jesus knows we are easily distracted from our course and He wants us to stay steadfast and immovable from following Him even when the world around us is not. We need to stop looking around at what others are doing for what is that to us. We need to follow Him one step at a time, moment by moment.

Your challenge for today is to ask God if there have been others that you�ve been pointing at and asking �What about her?� By a choice of your will, decide just to follow Him.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Later season

�The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the course of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that he Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is not unrighteousness in Him.� Psalm 92:12-15

This week we have been considering fruit-bearing through the seasons of life. Yesterday we sought to encourage mothers in the early season, the season of young children. Perhaps your children are grown and gone, or you are single or without children and you are wondering what does fruit look like in this later season.
Our verse today is a beautiful picture of a flourishing life in the later years. As long as you are on this earth you can be certain that God still has a plan and a purpose for your life, regardless of your age.
About 12-15 years ago, there were two women in our church that were in their 90�s. One was bedridden that other was more mobile. I made a point to visit both of them periodically. WOW!! What a ministry these ladies had in my life. I usually took my young children and they would make a fuss over them too. It never failed to encourage my heart when I visited them. Here I thought I was going to minister to them. HA! They would make my day, every single time. They would speak words of kindness, encouragement and ask how they could pray for me. They shared their life experiences and most of all their love for the Lord.
In March of this year, I was speaking at a women�s conference in Pennsylvania. There was an 89 year old woman there who sat right up front. At the end of our weekend she approached me, took my hand and with tears in her eyes said, �I have so much to learn.� In her simple words, she bore fruit in my life.
There is much wisdom bound up in those in the later seasons of life sitting in our pews. WE NEED YOU!!! Please share your lives with us. The fruit you bear into others lives may be multiplied many times over.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Early Fruit

Psalm 127:3-4, �Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one�s youth.�

As we continue our series on fruit-bearing, today we are going to rally around and encourage mothers of young children. As I was preparing this series, I could hear the echoes of the discouraged voices of mothers I have spoken to over the years because they felt side-lined or benched for the season. These are the women who are not encouraged by our devotionals this week, but rather they feel guilty because they don�t feel like they are bearing fruit because there are so many other demands on their time. If you are one of these women, this devotional is for you.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that has lost its vision of what is valuable. I want to encourage you that if you are at home raising children or trying to balance a job and family, God will use you right where you are. As you live daily to God�s glory you will bear the fruit of righteousness. There is no greater calling than to raise up the next generation to love the Lord. That is your ministry. It is a tough ministry with great rewards.
You are a powerful influence for the kingdom of God. You are on the front lines of the battle. You are vastly significant in God�s plan and purpose for His people. God has intentionally placed you as the mother of your children. In fact, He has hand selected your children to be in your family because He knows this is where they will get His best for their life.
Stay focused, dear sister. This season will pass all too quickly. If you have suffered with a poor or sinful attitude, repent and move forward. You cannot reclaim a single moment that is past, but you can determine to stake a claim for the future by living moment-by-moment in God�s grace in the present. A good way to do this is to ask God the question throughout the day, �Lord, how can I glorify You right now?�
You will probably fail multiple times. Keep getting up. Keep getting up. Keep getting up.
If I could, I would wrap you in a hug, and let you know, God loves you even when you can�t get to Women�s Bible study, or make a casserole for the pot luck, or teach at the Vacation Bible School.
Your primary ministry is first to your husband and second to your children. It is in that context in which the fruit of your life will be nurtured and grow. Do not let anything or anyone rob you of that calling.

Your challenge for today is to ask God, �How can I glorify You right now?� throughout your day.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Is your fruit in season?

This week we are discussing the fruit of our lives. In all my years as a counselor, many women have come into my office and shared their frustration of not feeling like they are being fruitful.
A lesson I have had to learn myself is that there are seasons of life. We are not going to have the same freedom, flexibility and time from one season to the next. The fruit of each season may look different too. I think we start to get into real trouble when we compare our fruit to the fruit of others. We can always find others that are more fruitful than we are; and we can always find people less fruitful than we are. The fruit we bear in every season of life should be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
�But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.� Galatians 5:22-23. Now, you may look at that verse and think it is �overused�. Sometimes those verses we are most familiar with tend to fall on deaf ears. Let me take a moment to make application to any woman in any season.
In the midst of your life, wherever you find yourself today changing diapers, working in an ungodly environment or feeding your elderly parents, are you loving? Are you joyful? Are you at peace? Is God working His long-suffering through you? Are you being kind? Are you good? Are you being faithful? Are you being gentle? Are you manifesting self-control?
The fruit you bear today will occur right in the midst of your life. It will have God�s fingerprints all over it and it will drip with the nectar of your uniqueness. Live daily to glorify God and you won�t be able to help but to bear fruit right in the midst of your circumstances.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Nothing but leaves

�And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He (Jesus) went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When he came to it, He found nothing but leaves�� Mark 11: 13

Having read this section of Scripture numerous times in the 22 years as a Christian, I was caught short recently by the words �nothing but leaves�. Jesus was looking for fruit not leaves.
A tree can be beautiful and lush with an abundance of leaves but if it is not bearing fruit, it falls short of its god-given purpose. Oh, sure it looks good, and a person has to get close enough to notice there is no fruit. To the casual observer it would look �fruitful� but to the curious observer that took the time to look closely it would be recognized as �fruitless�.
When I read the words �nothing but leaves� it caused me to consider my own life. If Jesus were to examine me, would He find desirable fruit or nothing but leaves? I don�t want to fall into the trap of looking good on the outside but being barren on the inside. Ministry especially, can lull us into a counterfeit sense of relationship and service, when in reality we can be going through the motions fooling everyone else, even ourselves, but we don�t fool God.
Support groups can also result in �nothing but leaves� if the participants don�t make application of what they are learning. If the women that attend Higher Ground (America's KESWICK women�s support group) come week after week but do not change, going home to their same patterns of behavior they arrived with, the result is �nothing but leaves�.
How are you doing? Is there evidence in your life of genuine fruit or are you hiding behind �nothing but leaves�?


Friday, September 23, 2005

Today, I find myself someplace I have never been before.

Today, I find myself someplace I have never been before. I am the mother of two adult children. For some reason, I sort of figured parenting would be a whole lot easier at this stage of life. I�m not a worrier or a fretter. At least I didn�t think I was until I got to this phase. Many nights sleep is lost. I can�t seem to shut my brain down. It wanders around, collecting more thoughts than I can handle. An upset stomach is all I get for my aimless �what if� wandering, all those horrible life scenarios that my kids could wind up in�if. What it basically amounts to is not trusting God�again.

When my children were in the phase referred to as �the terrible twos�, I had a blast with them! Two year olds are the funniest people on the planet. They also don�t yet, know, that you are not all wise and powerful. Nor have they had years of exposure to all your mistakes, and foibles. You are the one, with the limitless hugs, the holding lap, the bobo fixer and kisser. You crack up at all their silly little jokes no matter how often they tell them. They know and believe you love them. You are �Mommy�!

Today my children are 20 and 18 and I am no longer Mommy, I�m Mom to one and Ma to the other. They�ve seen me mess up so often (sometimes at their expense) that they are convinced I need serious therapy. or I�m just crazy. The jury is still out on that one. My hugs are still given and received. My lap is still available for holding. I don�t laugh at all their jokes anymore, because I don�t get them. It takes so long for them to explain their joke that they�ve long since stopped telling them. I think they still know and believe I love them�at least I hope so. More important than that or anything else, I hope that my children know and believe that God loves them.

Anyway, today, I�m being refined by The Refiner�s Fire. He is teaching me, ever so painfully that I must let go; I must stop clinging and that other c word, controlling. I must step back and let Him lead. Over and over, Father is gently -sometimes not so gently- reminding me of the obvious. There is a God� and it aint me! The other words He lovingly, repeatedly speaks to me are, �Step aside my beloved one. Let me be the one who draws them and woos them. After all honey, it aint about you, now is it?

Stephanie P.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

With all Your Heart...

Jeremiah 4:29 �But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and with all your soul.�

With all your heart? With all your soul? I have read these words in Scripture many, many times over the years. However, it has only been in the last few years that I have begun to ponder them seriously. And it�s only been in the past few months that I have scratched the surface toward more deeply, more fully understanding the profound impact that �seeking with all your heart and all your soul� can and does have on my spirit. Without question I am closely acquainted with how thirsty and dry the spirit becomes when seeking is neglected. But what of this seeking and searching with the whole heart and soul? Who does that? How does one do that?!

I�ve heard the word soul defined as �mind, will and emotions.� Webster�s dictionary defines soul as, �the central or integral part; the vital core. From the same resource heart is defined as �the vital center and source of one's being, emotions, and sensibilities. So, in essence, anyone, anywhere, anytime can and will find God! If, if, if we do what we are being encouraged to do over and over and over and over again in the Word of our Lord. If and when, I commit myself to -seeking, locating, obtaining or reaching- God, with all my mind, will and emotions; and with all that is the source of my being. I, we, are promised to find Him

My question for you today:
When is the last time you sought and found God? When was the last time that you knew, that you knew, that you knew, that God was present tense, with you?

�When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I�ll listen. When you come looking for me, you�ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I�ll make sure you won�t be disappointed.� Jeremiah 29:12-14
�The Message�


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fast Food or Gourmet? Isaiah 40:31 "They who wait for the Lord"

Yesterday I wrote about waiting on the Lord. Today I want to share two possible examples of waiting. They are certainly not exhaustive. One I�ll call fast food and the other gourmet. I choose this illustration because it quickly brings a picture to mind that makes a clear distinction between these two specific types of eating.

As a person who enjoys eating, I can tell you without hesitation that I get pleasure from both. However you don�t have to be a rocket scientist to know that one is definitely better than the other.
Fast food is just that, fast. We rush in; inhale it quickly to fill the void and we just as quickly get back to the busyness of our day. Our tummies are full, thus our appetites have been momentarily satiated and our desire for food is no longer pressing in on us.

Gourmet on the other hand requires time, lots of time. The ingredients must be gathered and prepped. Each and every course has its own steps and details that make for an experience your palate won�t soon forget. There is no rushing. Focused attention on each course is essential to the end result and the final presentation. Whether it is a five or seven course meal, you sit for the full length of time required and savor each delectable bite, allowing the senses to be aroused. And you rarely if ever, rush away from gourmet. First off you are usually so totally satisfied that all you want to do is sit still and marvel over how good the meal was. Then, when you do get up isn�t to rush away and get busy, but rather to sit in a comfortable chair and bask in the fullness.
Now take a leap and imagine the difference it would make in our every day lives, if our time with God was more often than not gourmet. Sisters believe me I all fully aware of the argument that can be made for time. Gourmet requires time. Fast food is still food and it does keep you from getting hungry. In other words, fast food meets the need. My question for you is simple, does it really meet the need your soul and your spirit have for the Father; the One who is the Lover of your soul?

I, for one, know from first had experience that in the natural and in the spiritual, fast food is not enough to keep you healthy and strong.

Your challenge for the day is to plan, prepare and enjoy a gourmet meal with Him who was and is and is to come. If you cook it, He will come.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Recently, I�ve experienced -what I would dub-the most stressful time in my life, in a very, very, very long time. My emotions have run the full gamut, covering deep sadness, happiness, major irritation, glee, concern, sorrow, compassion, resentment, etc., etc., etc. I�ve never longed so much for peace. Peace, simple quiet peace-in my space; in my mind; in my soul and in my spirit.

What is peace? Webster�s online dictionary, defines peace as �the absence of war or other hostilities; freedom from quarrels or disagreements; inner contentment; freedom from strife; the absence of mental stress or anxiety.� The list could continue, but I�m sure you get the point. When there is no peace, everything in you craves it, wants it, and earnestly desires it. I can tell you sister�s, I have never so urgently desired peace as I have these past weeks.

Some of you may be wondering what was producing such stress in my life. I can assure you it is of little importance in comparison to what our faithful, loving, longsuffering Father has exposed in my own heart and life.

On the surface, I�ve learned that I do not personally have to be at war with anyone for my own peace to be disrupted, destroyed or stolen. A simply glance through recent history bears this out. How many men, women and children are awakened in the middle of their slumbering by guerrilla warriors, who press in and take what does not belong to them? In an instant peace is gone, replaced by fear and trembling, and a plethora of many other untapped emotions. Similarly I do not need to be full of hostility or anger to have my peace disturbed. Any number of you reading this devotion may live with or know someone who seems to live in a constant state of angst and whether they�re coming or going, they have can an impact on you.

On a deeper level (which brings us to the bottom line) my own lack of peace existed for one primary reason. The answer was made plain to me in Isaiah 40:31, �But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.�

In �The Message Bible�, beginning with verse 28, Eugene Peterson paraphrases it like this, �Don�t you know anything? Haven�t you been listening? God doesn�t come and go. God lasts. He�s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn�t get tired out, doesn�t pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts�but those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don�t get tired, they walk and don�t lag behind.�

In conclusion dear ones, I spread my wings, I ran in my strength and I got tired! My strength was not sufficient to handle what was laid before me. I did not wait on God.
I praise God that He is enough and I am ever so thankful that He never ever sleeps or pauses to catch His breath.

My challenge for you is to make time with God an absolute priority. Even if you must secure it by force, do not neglect time with Him. He is the only Peace Giver and it is He alone who can calm the deepest longing our souls have.

Cling to Him sisters. Our lives depend on it.


Monday, September 19, 2005


I have spent the last few days discussing the differences between God�s voice and Satan�s voice. Once we have identified Satan�s voice and his tactics, we need to know how to fight him.
First we must ACKNOWLEDGE we are in constant spiritual warfare. �For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms� (Ephesians 6:12).
Then we can ACCESS God�s power. �Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you� (James 4:7).
Although my granddaughter Kate had a very traumatic birth, God dramatically rescued her, and the physical damage was minimal. However, when Kate was nine, she had to have extensive surgery on her leg and hip bones. I can remember pacing the hallway of the hospital. The surgery was taking much longer than we were expecting. I began to hear negative voices in my head: �There must have been serious trouble.� �They are going to tell you she didn�t make it.� �If she did make it, probably she won�t be able to walk.� These lies from Satan continued in my head until I just said out loud: �Get away from me, Satan. Lord, please give me new words and get Satan out of here.� The new words came: �You will see Kate walk down the aisle on her wedding day.� Kate survived the surgery; she walks beautifully. She is almost 18 and will be attending college this fall. Grammie is not rushing her toward the �walking down the aisle� part. I am quite willing to wait for that.
When we hear lies from Satan, we just need to stop and recognize we serve a God who has total power over Satan. We can ask for new thoughts and new words.
As we are engaged in spiritual warfare, we must APPROPRIATE scripture. In Matthew 4:10 we see that when Jesus was tempted by Satan, Jesus used nothing but scripture to fight against Satan. �Jesus said to him, �Away from me, Satan! For it is written:� Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only� (Matthew 4:10). Throughout the passage, you will see the words It is written.
We can ASSERT God�s authority over Satan. �But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, �The Lord rebuke you!�� (Jude1:9).
I believe this scripture teaches we should not attempt to fight Satan by ourselves. We should call on God to fight the battle for us. Remember that when we sense an attack by Satan, we should:

Acknowledge we are in constant spiritual warfare
Access God�s power
Appropriate scripture
Assert God�s authority over Satan.
And then the Victory will be ours.


Friday, September 16, 2005


Often as Christians we have a picture of God as the rigid and mean disciplinarian, the unrelenting judge, or the parent who is always punishing, but seldom loving. Let me help you change that picture today. As we quickly glance through Scripture, we read words describing Christ such as Advocate, Anointed One, Author of Life, Counselor, Defender, Faithful and True, Father of Compassion, Lord Who Heals, or Shepherd. Those are loving and nurturing names. Christ loves us. He wants us to return His love just as a parent wants the love of their children. It is Satan who wants us to have negative and foreboding images of God.

Not so long ago, I had a very difficult week. I had spoken many times over the weekend. I came home to see a pile of work on my desk. I didn�t feel like praying; I felt like giving up. I wanted to quit traveling and speaking. I (and Satan) managed to convince me that my speaking wasn�t doing any good anyway. I was sure no one loved me and no one would notice if I quit. I felt locked in a box of performance with little compensation or encouragement. I tried to pray, but all I could do was cry. I did manage however to let God know that I needed some love, attention, and encouragement.

I returned to my house after a brief shopping trip to find someone had left a beautiful little miniature rosebush at my door. The card simply said, �We love you.� Later several people called saying they were just �checking in,� and wanted me to know they loved me. When I finally got to my scripture reading for the day, the verse said, �Will ye also go away?� John 6:67. I felt as though Christ was saying to me personally, �Marilyn, are you going to leave Me, too?� I wept as I realized Christ loved me enough to prompt someone to leave a little rose bush at my door. He loved me enough to have friends call just to say they loved me. Then Christ arranged my devotions so that on the very day I needed to be reminded I mattered to Christ, He would so sweetly ask me, �Are you going to leave Me, too?�

Satan had constricted me and put me in a box of self pity and self-condemnation. But Christ�s love had constrained me, unlocked the box and set me free to bask in His love.



Thursday, September 15, 2005


Have you known someone who stood as the epitome of Christianity for you? They seemed so solid. They appeared to know God�s Word and they influenced many for Christ. Then something happened. First they became very involved in something that seemed to be on the cutting edge of Christianity. Then they seemed to almost be obsessed with their new concepts. You hesitated to even think such a thing about them because they were known for their spiritual leadership. But then you saw more disturbing trends: They became secretive and obsessive and even manipulative concerning their �new� thoughts or �new� understanding. They demanded that others do things their way. They were unbending in their procedures. Soon you saw them pull away from the organized church completely. Sometimes they may start a church, or even a cult, of their own, or they may lose their enthusiasm for Christians and Christian activity completely and become very disillusioned and non-participative.
What happened?
They have become captured by peripheral issues. Those issues became paramount in their minds. They became procedures and rules oriented. They were captured by what in the beginning was a good thing. They were chosen by God, but they were not captured. When we are captured, we are no longer free to let God work in our lives.
Oswald Chambers states: �Satan is as subtle as God is good, and he tries to counterfeit everything God does, and if he cannot counterfeit it, he will limit it. Do not be ignorant of his devices!�

Our prayer should be �That we will come to our senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken us captive to do his will� (2 Timothy 2:26 NIV).

Watch out because:



Wednesday, September 14, 2005


In recent devotionals I have shared what I have learned about recognizing God�s voice. I believe most people hear various �voices� or �thoughts in their heads. Sometimes we hear good, helpful voices. Other times the voices or thoughts are very discouraging and demeaning. I have found we are so strongly influenced by the negative voices that we begin to believe the worst thoughts about ourselves.
Before I wrote the book, I�m Listening, Lord, I asked God to give me thoughts that would help me teach others how to know the difference between God�s voice and Satan�s voice. Almost immediately I began to write down the thoughts I have been sharing with you. I have already elaborated on Christ Convicts/Satan Condemns; Christ Clarifies/Satan Confuses. Today I want to share the concept Christ Confirms/Satan Contradicts.

Christ confirms our ideas generally through Scripture. When my husband and I were considering joining Campus Crusade for Christ, Glen needed to know that God would take care of those who received Christ through the Four Spiritual Laws, Campus Crusade�s evangelistic tract. As Glen was searching the Scripture for confirmation, God showed him John 15:16, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain.

Glen could have made the decision to join staff just because I was nagging him, but instead he waited until he had received scriptural confirmation from God.

We have become so influenced by our societal standards that we forget to check and confirm our actions with Scripture. The Bible is very clear on its stance regarding marriage, divorce, fidelity, homosexuality, modesty, and most issues we are faced with today. Satan is the one who rearranges and tries to rewrite Scripture. He has been contradicting scripture since Eve. Read Genesis 3 to see how Satan managed to contradict God�s word. To be able to check God�s word before taking any action, it is, of course, best if we have become students of God�s Word. However, we can always check a good concordance or topical Bible to get God�s perspective on the decisions we make.

�Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it� (Mark 16:20).




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Tuesday, September 13, 2005




I walked out of the hospital after our son died as the result of a car crash caused by a drunk driver. I was thinking about the woman who had talked to me on the phone at the hospital. When I told her the doctors said Nathan was dying, the woman commented, "Oh you can't talk like that. Death comes from Satan. If you talk like that and Nathan dies, it will be your fault because you gave up. My mind was filled with the thought, It's your fault. It's your fault!

This lady was a long-time Christian, but she told me a lie. I don't think she meant to deceive me; she simply didn't know God's Word.
Is it possible that someone with good intent can mislead us? It even happened in Scripture. Read 1 Samuel 24:3-7. David�s loyal, faithful dedicated to God, gave David wrong advice. It is possible to get wrong advice from good, Christian people.
As I walked out of the hospital, I knew that lady was wrong, but I asked God to give me a verse to help me. �Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints� (Psalm 116:15). I slowly realized my son�s death was not dependent on how his mother prayed. God called Nathan home that night, and his homecoming was precious to the Lord.

Matthew 24:11 says: �And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.�

How can we find the truth? By devouring God�s word. As we are students of Scripture, it will be clear to us when we are told a lie.



Monday, September 12, 2005


Dear Ones,
I have been asked to share with you briefly a message I have often given. This message is included in my book, I�m Listening, Lord. I felt confident I was generally able to discern the difference between God�s voice and Satan�s voice. However, I was stumped as to how to pass this understanding on to others. When I asked God to help me teach others, this comparison/contrast outline emerged just as I am sharing it with you. Many of us are duped by Satan. It is my prayer this series of devotionals will allow you know with a certainty the difference between God�s voice and Satan�s voice.


Have you ever believed a lie? Most of us have and then had to deal with the fact that someone we trusted had purposely deceived us. That sort of betrayal is very difficult to forgive.
But what happens when we believe a lie about ourselves? Have you ever had thoughts, �I can�t do that?� �I�m no good at that.� �They should ask someone who is more qualified and talented than I am.� �With what I have done in my past, God could never use me.� Where have those thoughts come from? Do you really think God put those thoughts in your head? No way. Those thoughts are lies and are words of condemnation. The Bible says �Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8: 1-2)
If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and confessed your sins, there is NO condemnation for you from God. So where does the condemnation come from? Condemnation comes straight from Satan. Condemnation is Satan�s lies. When I know I am being attacked by Satan, my favorite word is SCRAM. Christ exposes sin; Satan exploits it.
Christ will not condemn. Christ will convict. What can you do with conviction? Conviction calls for action. The action will generally be confession to God and perhaps to someone else. Conviction often requires that we ask for forgiveness. �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)
There is nothing we can do with condemnation except to believe it or reject it. Without Christ in our lives we are powerless to reject condemnation. With Christ in our lives, we can claim the promise of Romans 8:1-2 that there is NO condemnation for us from God.


Marilyn Willett Heavilin

Friday, September 09, 2005

Back to School

2 Corinthians 3:2-3, �You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.�

Well, by now the children and grandchildren are back to school whether it is public school, homeschool or private school. There are a lot of influences making impressions upon our children. Their teachers and friends can have a positive or negative impact on their lives this year.
Regardless of your children�s ages, your positive, steadfast, faithful walk with Jesus Christ can have a powerful influence on your children in a world vying for their allegiance. Dr. Paul Tripp used to say to his children when they left his door, �There�s a war going on out there and it�s being fought on the turf of your heart.� The same is true for our children, young and old. With all the negative influences surrounding your children, why not be the most positive part of their life? They are watching you. Is your faith real? Is your God worth following? Does being a Christian make a difference in your life? Be a living epistle to your children. I don�t mean to cramming it down their throats, I mean living out your faith before their very eyes. You can be the best teacher they have this year.

No matter what�.Model Christ.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Preparing to hear from God ~ The Powerful Practice of Fasting

We all go through all kinds of preparations to meet different people in our lives or to attend a special function. I know that each day I will make preparation for the day based on what the day may bring forth. It should be no different when we prepare to hear from God. The spiritual exercise we can practice to make ourselves fully available to hear from God is the discipline of fasting. Fasting is abstaining from something for the purpose of using that time to seek the Lord, His mind and His will for your life.

Christ addresses the issue of fasting in several ways; first he fasted for forty days in preparation for his ministry (Matt. 4:1,2), then he told us in what manner we will fast in Matt 6:6-18, and he also told us that once he leaves us we will fast again (Matt. 9:14,15). The one thing scripture does not instruct us regarding fasting is when to fast. The Focus is on God and not on those things that draw away our attention from Him and toward ourselves. Common areas we fast: food, activities, sleep and intimate relationships. This puts ourselves in the position that God can work through us and talk to us. We take the time from the activities we are fasting from to spend the time with him.

Check out some examples of fasting in scripture:

Special Revelation: Daniel 9:1-5 ~ Daniel gave ATTENTION to God with prayer and fasting. Neh. 1: 3-7 ~ Nehemiah fasted asking God to do something regarding the state of Jerusalem. In Neh. 2: 1-2 ~ God answers and makes the way for Nehemiah to rebuild the City Walls.

Direction: Acts 13 ~ God answers after the Church fasting and prayer and sends out Paul and Barnabas.

Protection: 2 Chron. 20:3-4 ~ Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast to seek help from the enemy. God answered and destroyed the enemy.

Mourning Sin, repentance and forgiveness: Deut. 9:18 ~ Moses fasted over the sins of the nation. This is the first recorded fast in scripture. Jonah 3:7-9 ~ the entire city of Nineveh was spared from destruction when they all prayed and fasted.

For Sickness: 2 Samuel 12:15-23 and Psalm 35:13 ~ David saw fasting as a way to ask God for physical healing.

Are you Sick? Are you confused? Are you in a storm? Do you need answers? Do not underestimate the power of fasting. Never forget the power of prayer!



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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Matter of the Heart - The Practice of Worship

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker. Psalm 95:6

Now, I will not pretend to be an expert on worship in fact my brother-in-law and sister would be more equipped to write a devotional on this topic. BUT, I am called to worship just as they have been called to worship.

Personal Worship helps us to re-align our focus on God daily: Psalms 34:1-3, Hebrews 13:15. Personal Worship prepares us for corporate worship. Consider this thought: �If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week.� A.W. Tozer God is looking for us to be his worshipers; Jesus declares �The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him� John 4:23. In today�s society we can tend to worship other people and things, scripture tells us that we are only to worship God (Matt. 4:10). Today our focus on worship is not on how we do it, but that we are united spiritually with Him. Our worship must come from the heart, not from ritual or form. Rom. 12:1 clearly tells us that worship is more than singing, praising, and praying.

I am an advocate of service and ministry and fully believe in some way God has called us to serve. �Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Then he says �Love your neighbor as yourself.� Mark 12:30-31. Clearly worship is first, service second. God is calling us back to worship � He is calling us back to focus on Him and not just on what we are doing for Him. Brother Lawrence wrote a wonderful book called �Practicing the Presence of God�. That is worship � placing our daily focus on Him through praise, adoration, and thanksgiving.

So, who do you worship? Where is your focus? Is it on yourself, your things, the world, on others, on what you do for him, or is it on Him?


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Talking to God ~ The Powerful Practice of Prayer

As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray. Martin Luther

Yes, that is what scripture tells us to do. However, I am personally aware of how difficult the discipline of prayer is to form and maintain in our lives. I find quick prayers to be what comes natural for me that constant petition to God when I think of a need, hear a request or am truly amazed at His work. Unfortunately: Spontaneity isn't an excuse for me to ignore the importance of discipline in my prayer life (Disciplines of a Godly Woman) Not that we should stop our quick prayers, because there is a definite place for them in our lives.

Elizabeth Elliot challenges us to Offer to God the first hour of the day as a token of consecration of all our time.

Why should we pray?
1. Because God tells us to: 1 Tim 2:8; Psalms 145:18; Luke 22:40
2. Because God invites us to: Matt. 11:28, 29; Song of Solomon 2:14
3. Because God answers us: 1 John 5:14; Matt. 21:22; John 14:13-34

Why don't we pray more?
1. Because we are under spiritual warfare ~ Satan does not want us in communion with God. Ephesians 6:12
2. Because we don't believe God will answer: James 5:13-18 tells us that the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
3. Because there may be sin in our lives: Romans 8:7 The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.
4. Because we do not care that much: Galatians 6:2 commands us to bear the burdens of others.

Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter to look upon God? A.W. Tozer

What is Prayer? It is a combination of Meditation, Confession, Adoration, Thanksgiving Supplication and Intercession. Begin to practice praying by praying through each of the areas as you meet with God. Just talk to HIM!

�When we remember God�s goodness and acknowledge what He has done for us in the past, we open the door into His presence. When we omit thanksgiving from our prayers, we rob God of an honor due Him, and we render our prayers powerless.� Lehman Strauss



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Monday, September 05, 2005

Watch out for Hurry Sickness: The Powerful Practice of Rest

We have already looked at fasting and prayer, but how about rest. Think about it -- you cannot practice either without slowing up our lives. John Ortberg in his book the Life You've Always Wanted states that Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.

Jesus was very aware of this kind of lifestyle problem. We see over and over again in scripture where he withdrew from the crowds and activities. In Mark 6:31, he taught his followers to do the same... Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark also records that Jesus took his disciples aside to rest in 3:7-9; 6:45; 7:24; 9:30. I don't know about you, but if Jesus and his disciples needed rest I most certainly need it too. In fact, as I have told you about my physical struggles in the past one thing the doctors have repeated told me is to SLOW down and rest. I am guilty as the next person of trying to do all and cram it all into life. Those of us in ministry also struggle with taking time out to rest. It is not easy with family, jobs, and other demands placed before us.

Just as fasting means to refrain from something, so solitude and rest means to refrain from society. Henri Nouwen wrote, In solitude, I get rid of my scaffolding. Scaffolding is all the stuff we use to keep ourselves propped up. In solitude and rest everyone is truly just as I am.

We need daily solitude and rest � even if in small chunks. Then we need a time of extended solitude for a day (or more) to really recoup. When my body gets physically tired I crash, I mean I literally cannot get out of bed even though I really want to. We need to take solitude from life before we crash so that we can deal with life issues as they come along. We need time to reset our emotional and spiritual clocks. Find your moments of solitude, plan in times of rest. Jesus DID.

Psalms 46:10 �Be Still and know that I am God.�

Friday, September 02, 2005

Life -eternal and abundant

When you hear the words 'eternal life' what comes to mind? Do you think about fluffy clouds with angels and harps? Do you think about seeing the face of Jesus? Do you think about what will happen after you die? Do you think about what you will have someday?

It was a few years ago when I realized that eternal life is not future for genuine believers, it is present. We tend to think of eternal life as some future happening, and in some sense it is. We do not yet know the fullness of the presence of the Lord like we will when we see Him face-to-face. But in another sense, eternal life is already ours and ready to be enjoyed in our present circumstances and life. Eternal life began the moment we passed from death to life, the moment of conversion. John 5:24, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from
death into life."

Just what is eternal life? According to Jesus, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3. We enjoy eternal life through our intimate and relational knowledge of God. Jesus said that He came that "they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Are you enjoying abundant life today? You don't have to wait until heaven, live it now in close fellowship with Jesus.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fair-weather faith

"Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8

I was reading through Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman the other day when I read this quote by Charles Spurgeon, "Remember that we have no more faith at any time than we have in the hour of trial. All that will not bear to be tested is mere carnal confidence. Fair-weather faith is no faith at all."

There are seasons in our lives in which things are running pretty smoothly. There are no impending disasters, the kids are cooperating, our marriages are amicable, our bills are paid and we can still afford gas each week. It seems that during those times we tend to coast. We are also likely to "feel" like we're walking by faith, because frankly, nothing is challenging our faith.

Then there are seasons in which our faith may be strongly tested. It may be a time of illness, financial set back, rebellious children, disappointing relationships, or another person that won't cooperate with our agenda. It is in these seasons that we see our faith for what it really is.

I remember a woman from our Women of Character program whose husband was in the Colony of Mercy a few years back. She was so excited about what God was doing. She was confident that she was trusting in God and that her faith was solid. Then her husband came home. I remember her calling and sharing with me that she realized her faith was not in God
all that time, but rather in America's Keswick and her knowledge of where he was.

I think sometimes what we think is faith, is not faith in Christ at all but rather faith in our current circumstances or faith in our own ability to make life work.

How are you doing? Do you have fair-weather faith or does your faith hold up through the storms of life? It is the storms of life that test and strengthen our faith in the first place.