Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rejoicing with exceedingly great joy

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." Matthew 2:10

A small portion of a familiar passage of the wise men's reaction when they saw the star which they sought. They did not simply rejoice. They were not just joyful. They did not just have great joy. They did not just have exceedingly great joy. They rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. I suspect that even with all those descriptive words, Matthew could not adequately describe the wise men's reaction with mere human words.

You may wonder why I bring up this Scripture now? Christmas is past, Easter is not yet. It struck me, as I read Matthew recently, that typically I am not inclined to get THAT excited about the things of the Lord. I wondered if anywhere in Scripture there was similar wording relative to us.

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12

"Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation." 2 Corinthians 7:4

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." 1 Peter 4:12-13

How can we rejoice and be exceedingly glad when we are reviled and persecuted, when we are experience trials and suffering? "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

As we keep a God-ward perspective with eternity in view, we will be glad with exceeding joy because ~ one day... heaven. Sisters, one day home, where our gladness and rejoicing will never end or wane.

"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." Revelation 19:7


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grief is a tunnel not a cave

"Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!" Psalm 119:2 NKJV

"Once the Holy Spirit instills within our hearts the hunger for God's very best, all must and will become secondary to this supreme goal: " . . .the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). Our puny, worthless all exchanged for the One who is All in all! "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:36).

The above Scripture and quote is from "The Hungry Heart Devotioanl Series" by Miles J. Stanford. I read it after returning from the funeral service of a young man whose life came to an abrupt end. Surrounded by loved ones the family is grieving a loss. There is a hole in their hearts and lives now that only God Himself can fill...and over time, I'm sure He will, meeting each of them exactly where they are.

It was during the funeral service that their senior pastor and friend encouraged them with three things critical to the care of their grieving souls.

1. Christ: Christ alone, in all, through all, above all is the hope that we cling to in the midst of overwhelming sorrow and suffering.

2. "Grieving is not a cave, it's a tunnel": we don't go into a grief cave, roll a stone over the opening and never, ever come out. Instead, we realize that grief is a tunnel which we have entered and as dark, as solitary, as brutally painful and unbearable as it may seem, there is another side that we will arrive at. Yes, we will go in, and in moments it will feel and be deep and profoundly dark...and yet, as we keep walking, remembering the God of hope who is in and through it all with us, we will all come through.

3. Hold hands: reach out to one another, cling to one another, allow those around you to hold you up and be arms of support when you are weak. Never let go of the strength found in the body of Christ. Hold hands. 1

My hope, my prayer, for all of us is to remember the supreme goal. No matter what, seek with our whole hearts God's very best, and in the midst of our worst suffering remember that He is with us, will never, ever leave us or forsake us, and we will be blessed!


1 Pastor Tim Shorey, Trinity Fellowship Church, Toms River, NJ 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Have you been on a date lately?

The dating you remember the fun you had when you got to the age of dating? Oh, the excitement that filled your heart at the thought of who might ask you. The questions that came to mind...who will it be, where we will go, how should I dress, what should I say. The butterflies you would feel at the very thought of being asked and then to say yes and have to go out with them.

When we date we tend to think of created places to go and spend time together; maybe things that don't need a lot of money, too. Places where we would feel comfortable going to. Places where we feel that we can just be ourselves.

I have three men in my life that I still date. Dating is opens up communication, you get to know each other better, your love for one another grows and you build trust in each other. I find that dating my husband and 2 sons leaves us with a richer and better understanding for each other.

Years ago I had a friend who would grab her Bible and tell me she was headed for the beach for her date. After a few weeks, I asked her who she was dating, since I had not seen any man in her life. She chuckled and told me it was not just any man....but her date was time alone with the Lord.

You know, the same principles apply to this situation as they do in our human way of dating... If we take the time to get alone with the Lord (and I don't mean just five minutes here or there) our lives can be so enriched.

We as women tend to be moms, career women, and wives, women involved in ministry and always on the go. Our time spent with the Lord might be over a short devotion or a quick prayer here or there over our cup of coffee.

Oh, the joy of..."having a date"...with the Lord, going to the beach, taking a long walk or drive and spending time just with Him. Your communication with Him, your trust in Him, your respect towards Him, your love for Him and a better understanding of who He is and what He means to you will be more evident each time you go on your date.

You don't need to worry about your dress, you don't have to spend any money and you never have to worry about Him saying He is too busy or not available. You know He waits for us to spend time with Him. He created each and every one of us because He loves us. Just like we date people in our lives because we love them and want to be with them, the Lord feels the same way about us.

Check your calendar this week and make a special date with Him. Maybe even pack a cup of coffee, your Bible and a list of things you want to thank Him for. Prepare your heart and ask Him to help you two to get better acquainted.
Enjoy the blessings that you get from your date.

Lynn W.

Are you a cloud?

Today while I was working the skies grew dark and gray and the rain came pouring down.  Of course, that is all everyone could chat about as the guests ran in and out of the rain drops.  

One of the men from a church group came to settle his invoice.  While he was standing with me a women kept going on and on about the rain and how it was going to ruin the day.  As I tried to encourage her to enjoy the day and the facilities that we offered did not seem to help her....she seemed intent on complaining about how her day was ruined due to the rain.

As she walked away, the man replied to me...."Oh What a Cloud she is."  He said to me that one of his students one day told him the sun is always shining but the clouds can get in the way.   Of course I knew there was a Victory Call to tell in all of this.   

How many times my father has told me that some people bring sunshine when they come, and some when they go.  How has your life been going lately?  I know for myself these are trying days.  The bills keep coming, the economy keeps changing, and the winter is still here, and so on.

Do I bring joy and sunshine when I enter a room or when I leave?  Or better yet do I bring SON shine when I enter a room.  You know our smiles might not always be big and beautiful, sometimes small and simple, but it can still be there.  We can still show Christ or SON shine even when rain and clouds come in our life.  We just need to make sure that the clouds don't cover our SON shine.

Is the Son shining in your life or have you let the clouds of fear, worry, frustration, doubt, and complaining come in the way?  I know my son tells me sometimes that I am his rock and when I am down in spirit it affects him.  You know we do affect each other with our attitude.  If you are having a bad day and keep reacting to it...either people will start to feel the same way as you or if they are smart they will walk away and stay away from you.

We need to bring "SON" shine into lives and remember what we do does matter to others.  Have a SON filled day and share a smile with someone.  Even if it is just a small and simple one.

Lynn W.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Don't Miss It!

"Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things" (Isaiah 40:26, KJ).

             My husband and I have the privilege of spending  two months each year surrounded by absolute beauty. As I look out my front window, I can see the Pacific Ocean. The surf today is more like a spray, way out. I can see the waves creating almost a vapor as they burst on the shore, but many days I am oblivious to the beauty because I am preoccupied by the activities of my day.

             Yesterday we were driving along Highway One. I looked up just in time to notice that the mountains were covered with snow! We marveled at the beauty that we got to see as we traveled from one town to the other.  As we arrived at our destination, I mentioned the snow on the mountains to some of the people there. To my amazement, they had driven to the event and hadn’t even noticed the snow on the mountains!

             Then, today in my devotions, I read this verse.  "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things."  Suddenly the truth hit me! GOD created this beauty for US. I can only imagine His disappointment when He paints this beautiful picture for us...the snow capped mountains and the ocean all in one view, but often we hardly even notice, let alone say Thank You.

             We are surrounded daily with God's beauty and His miraculous creation. Each summer as I walk through the campus at America's KESWICK, I am surrounded by His handiwork...the flowers, the landscape, each person that I pass.  We are God's creation. Let's lift up our eyes on high and behold!  Then let’s take a moment to say "Thank You, Lord."

             My motto is "Don't miss it!" Let's not miss what God has created for us and what He has done for us.  "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things."

Marilyn Heavilin

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mortify the flesh?

I was sitting one afternoon, several years ago, with a group of friends sharing lunch and cookies for dessert.  As I was eating one of the cookies one of the friends leaned over, in all seriousness, and said, "Mortify the flesh."  

Mortify: to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of; to subdue or deaden (as the body or bodily appetites) especially by abstinence or self-inflicted pain or discomfort1

The concept of mortification can be somewhat confusing and even disquieting.  What exactly does it mean?

One author, Miles Stanford, relates "Man has many ways of seeking to escape the thralldom of self...some of these man-centered methods. 

Denying oneself certain things for a time, or even for all time, is not even close to the answer since the old nature will adjust and thrive under any conditions - anything short of death to self."(Stanford-pg 43) ... For it is not scriptural to believe that the old Adam nature can be conquered in that manner. It yields to nothing less than the death of the cross. 

"It is altogether too tough to be killed by abusing the body or starving the affections" (A.W.Tozer).2

The first piece of the puzzle is that overcoming the flesh is not mind over matter. It is not simply willpower to subdue the lusts and desires of the flesh.  It involves death, our death. Not physical death but death to the lusts and desires of our flesh.  It's personal.  It hurts.  Death does not come without pain.
Great truth.  Wonderful truth.  Is it enough?  Death is not enough if it is not followed by the inflow of Life.  Death will leave a void where our desires once held sway.  Death is not enough if there is not something to fill that void.  

Another author, Milton Vincent notes, "...the key to mortifying fleshly lust is to eliminate the emptiness within me and replace it with fullness; and I will accomplish this by feasting on the gospel...What happens then to my appetites for sin when I am filled with the fullness of God in Christ?  Jesus provides this answer: 'He who continually comes to Me will never hunger or thirst again.' Indeed, as I perpetually feast on Christ and all of His blessings found in the gospel, I find that my hunger for sin diminishes and the lies of lust simply lose their appeal. Hence, to the degree that I am full, I am free." 3

The second piece of the puzzle is to be fully satisfied in Him, filled by His presence and overflowing, by His grace, with the fullness of Christ, so that lust and personal desires are shown for what they are: foolish, shallow, cheap imitations that pale in comparison to the fullness and richness of God.

Ephesians 1:22-23 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 3:14-19  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 5:18b filled with the Spirit

Hence, to the degree that I am full, I am free.4


1 accessed 02 08 09
2 The Complete Green Letters by Miles Stanford.
3 A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent
4 The Gospel Primer for Christains by Milton Vincent

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sinners in Heaven

I was startled when a friend of mine asked me this question: Why are all those sinners in heaven?  My first response was to say, "There won't be any sinners in heaven because it's well - heaven."

And then I thought for a moment and realized that, in fact, heaven is going to FULL of sinners.  Forgiven, ransomed by the blood of Jesus, sinners, but sinners none the less.

Romans 3:23 tells us that "...all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And further on, in Romans 6:23 we are told "...the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."   So - all the sinners in heaven will be those that have been redeemed- and that makes all the difference.  Will our sins be taken to heaven with us?  No, because heaven is a place of no sin.  God sees us as sinless and spotless; because Jesus' blood shed for us has satisfied the payment of death demanded by our sin and made us pure and righteous before God.  We have eternal life because of the work of Jesus on the cross to save us from sin.

A better answer to my friend would be something like, "and you as a sinner, can be in heaven, too.  All you need to do is accept the free gift of eternal life from God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and trust wholly in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to save you from your sins (John 3:16)."  

So the next time you think about sinners in heaven, remember we are ALL sinners and the sinners who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation and right standing before God, are redeemed from the hell deserved and welcomed into heaven to stand spotless before Him.  For me, that is the true beauty of heaven.

Lynn Randall

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Without Fear...Take No Offense

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. ~~ Galatians 1:101

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-72

We are almost through the second month of the new year. Now I know some of you made resolutions in January. It seems to be one of those natural steps we take at the start of a brand new year.

In December, I found myself thinking on it, pondering over what new step or change I wanted or need to make this year.  In fact, it was in that month when my pastor challenged the entire church body to go thirty days without being offended. Wow, was that hard!  Who knew (certainly not me) that loving a brother or a sister by intentionally taking no offense could be so challenging?

I was astonished at how often I had to pause, ponder and pray through my stinky thinking as it relates to my words, actions and deeds in response to some perceived offense. Eww, yuck!  

At the same time, I was encouraged by the sweet fellowship of the spirit that was taking place as my own heart and its motives were revealed.  I found myself praying more for people than I had been able or willing to in the past. To take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ was far less draining on my emotions. Plus, a lot less unnecessary time was wasted walking or sitting around being offended.

Strangely enough, the one desire that surfaced continually for me, during that month, was to simply LIVE WITHOUT FEAR! Not the fear of spiders or fear of the dark, but rather, the fear of man. 

All too often, I was aware of circumstances, situations, etc., where I took an offense (for myself or for another) and I chose to say or do nothing for fear of what someone might think of me or fear that I might be rejected.

Praise God for His perfecting grace in us and that He, by His Spirit, is willing to speak in, through and to us for the purpose of transforming us into the image and likeness of His Son.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Help or Hope

"God is not trusted, not honored, in our continually asking Him for help. In the face of "my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19~KJV), how can we beg for help? Our responsibility is to see in the Word all that is ours in Christ, and then thank and trust Him for that which we need (pg 65~The Complete Green Letters- Miles Stanford).

How often do we do just that? Beg, plead and demand God's help?  I do it all the time, so I appreciate the reminder that God has already made provision, already "granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).  I don't believe it is a matter of God giving us more as much as a matter of us receiving more of what is already ours as His children.  

In my experience we tend to err toward one of two extremes.  We either beg and plead for that which is already ours in Christ, or we presume upon God for that which He never promised. That's why the little phrase in Stanford's quote is important to not breeze over.  "Our responsibility is to see IN THE WORD all that is ours in Christ..." (Caps mine)
Let me share two brief illustrations.  

I am not a real fan of being in an airplane. I love to fly, but I'm not fond of being inside the airplane to do it.  I have a vivid memory of one flight many years ago, sitting in my center seat towards the back half of the plane, with white knuckles clinging to the arm rests, pleading with God ~ Father, give me Your peace. Oh, Lord, please give me Your peace.  Help me Jesus, I need peace.~ Over and over I pleaded and over and over God impressed upon my spirit - "You already have it, I have already given it to you" I was quite confused because I didn't believe Him.  I knew I did not feel one shred of peace in that moment.  And that, precisely, was my problem: I didn't believe Him.  "but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it" Hebrews 4:2b NKJV

The second illustration is of the error toward the other extreme.  I was sitting in the diner chatting with a friend struggling in her marriage.  As she shared with me over the next hour, it came out that she had gotten involved with another man.  It didn't seem to matter what I said, she remained unpersuaded that what she was doing was wrong.  Why was she unpersuaded?  Her words to me were: "I don't see anything wrong with it, and I don't think God sees anything wrong with it because I know God wants me to be happy." I can't tell you how many times people have said those very words to me as a counselor.  It grieves my heart.  Their error is presuming upon God for something He does not promise.  They failed to "SEE IN THE WORD ALL THAT IS OURS IN CHRIST."

Today, let's simply choose to take God at His word and thank Him and Trust Him for His glorious provision for all our need.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Wishing, hoping or trusting?

Wish: Verb: To want: to desire; long for.

Noun:.A distinct mental inclination toward the doing, obtaining, attaining, something: a desire, felt or expressed.

Hope: Noun; Expectation of something desired: desire accompanied by expectation.

Trust: Noun: Confident expectation of something

Verb: To believe, to expect confidently.

Sometimes we get these three mixed up a bit so I thought I would look up the definitions and share them with you. As we lift our families and friends up in prayer or even our personal requests, I wonder which one of these three words would describe the state of our hearts. I've been thinking about the state of my own heart quite a bit lately. 

Over the past year my prayer life has become richer and deeper, both in my personal time with the Lord and here at the Colony of Mercy. God simply continues to amaze me with His answers to prayer. 

       I have witnessed Him answer prayers on behalf of a young wife and mother with a brain tumor. She was told to get her affairs in order prior to surgery...her prognoses was very, very dire. Not only did this young woman open her eyes after surgery, all her physical and mental capacities were intact!! This was to the amazement of all the doctors. God is so good!

I have even prayed for little things and witnessed answers to these as well. On a recent business trip to London, my husband was to arrive in London at 7am and go straight to check in to a hotel, no shower to freshen up. But God heard even this insignificant request. Surprisingly, John was met by a limo at the airport that promptly took him to his hotel to check in and freshen up. Thank you Lord...for loving us so much!

Now where is my heart when I'm praying? Am I just longing for a good or positive outcome? Is there expectation in my desire for the answers to prayer? Or am I confidently expecting God to answer my prayer in any way He chooses to do so? Oh, how I long to say that in all my prayers I'm trusting God in ALL things....big and small. Over this past year I see less "wishing and hoping" and more TRUSTING. But I'm not at that point completely. I've discovered that the more I trust, the more peace I have. And this is a great place to be.

Isaiah 50:10, "Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the Word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God."

My challenge to you and myself as well, is to just trust in the Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls and leave the outcome to God, trusting Him for His answer. Let's leave the wishes for the birthday cakes.


MaryAnn and John Kiernan have been married for 35 years, have 2 grown/married sons and are the proud grandparents of two grandsons. She serves at America's KESWICK as a Biblical Counselor and also as Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.

1. Definitions taken from The American College Dictionary, 1966, Random House Publishers.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Divine Valentine

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and, for some, that is just another reminder that you are alone.  Perhaps you have been alone every Valentine's Day or your Valentine is no longer a part of your life either through death or divorce or for some other painful reason.  Perhaps this Valentine's Day you are looking forward to being with your new or not-so-new Valentine.  Regardless of what situation you are in today- YOU HAVE A VALENTINE - A DIVINE VALENTINE.  

      Before you scoff at the thought, let me assure you, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, He is your Heavenly Husband and if you allow Him He will be the best Valentine.  Embracing your Divine Valentine in no way negates or minimizes your past or present valentine.  

Jesus is alive and active in the life of His bride.  He delights in giving good gifts.  You may be thinking, "that's all well and good, but I need someone with skin on."  Beware! As long as you believe that, you will never allow Jesus to be enough. 

      Jesus desires to fulfill the deepest longings of your heart, no matter where you find yourself today.  He completely satisfies (You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works.. Psalm 145:16-17)

       He delights in you (As for the saints who are on the earth, "They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight." Psalm 16:3).  He is Mr. Right(eous)("For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright." Psalm 11:7).  You are His bride ("I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD." Hosea 2:19-20) and He desires fellowship with you ("God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."1 Corinthians 1:9).  He so desires relationship with you that He went to the cross to die to gain your release from sin and death and to gain your freedom ("But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." Romans 6:22; "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" John 8:36).  

Oh, sister, go to Him today and tarry with Him until you experience His fullness, His love, His delight in you.  
Treasure your Divine Valentine.  


(modified from VICTORY CALL posted 2/14/07)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Inflamatory speech

"But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person"  Matthew 15:18.

The way we communicate with others goes a long way to belie the attitudes of our hearts.  Many times when we are not careful with our speech, we add seemingly little words that pack a power punch that expresses what's really in our heart and jabs the other person.  Perhaps examples would help clarify this point.

The difference between "Are you doing the dishes?"  and "Are you STILL doing the dishes?"

The difference between "Are you reading the paper?" and "Are you reading the paper AGAIN?"

The difference between "Have you taken out the trash?" and "Have you taken out the trash YET?"

The difference between "You requested I do the banking" and "You MANDATED I do the banking"

The difference between "You can be insensitive" and "You are VERY insensitive".

The difference between "You often miss the laundry basket" and "You ALWAYS miss the laundry basket."

The difference between "Are you taking a shower" and "Are you taking ANOTHER shower?"

The list could go on and on.  We often add inflamatory words to our communication that jab the person we are talking to and make them feel like we just gave the knife a quick twist.  Where is the grace in that?  Where is the humility in that? How does that move us forward in a goal to have godly communication?  Inflamatory speech is packed with judgement. We can shut communication down in an instant with inflamatory speech that immediately puts the other person on the defensive.  

Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." ESV

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. NIV

"Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it." AMPLIFIED

Let us therefore be wise with our words, building up and encouraging others, using them for God's purposes rather than our own.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By faith

"But I still have to..."  Many times when I am trying to encourage someone in their faith, in believing God in their situation, they get frustrated and say, "I do have faith, but I still have for my parents, live with my husband/wife,  discipline my children, do my job, or forgive."  In many ways the "but I still have to's" negate faith.  Whenever we say, I believe...but... we don't really believe wholeheartedly.  

It's interesting that we speak of our walk of faith as a walk, not a sit or stand. "...for we walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Corinthians 5:7. "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" Galatians 5:25. Faith is active. Faith results in action.  To simply believe without acting upon that belief is not belief at all but unbelief.  "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" James 2:17. James the Just, brother of Jesus, wrote, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works" James 2:21-22.
To drive home this point let's take a brief survey of Hebrews 11:

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice... vs. 4
By faith Noah...constructed an ark... vs. 7
By faith Abraham obeyed ...and he went out, not knowing where he was going... vs. 8
By faith Abraham went to live in the land of in tents... vs. 9
By faith Abraham ...offered up Isaac... vs. 17
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau... vs. 20
By faith Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph... vs. 21
By faith Joseph gave directions for his bones to be taken when the Israelites were set free from Egyptian bondage. vs. 22
By faith Moses' parents hid him for 3 months from the King's men...vs. 23
By faith Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter...vs.24
By faith Moses kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood...vs. 28
By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land... vs. 29
By faith Rahab offered shelter to the spies...vs. 31

The Scriptures contain many, many more examples of active faith. "For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight" Hebrews 11:32-34.

Inspired by those who have gone before us, both living and dead, let us step out in faith to live in such a way that portrays our faith by our actions. Action is the natural overflow of a heart of faith. So while we are forgiving, raising children, living with difficult spouses or children, and working for demanding bosses, let us faithfully walk, all the while, trusting and believing God is moment-by-moment fulfilling His promises in our lives.  


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Intercessory Prayer

One of the things I appreciate most about America's KESWICK is the emphasis on prayer.  I am blessed to be able to pray for the ministry and staff.   I will frequently say, "I'll pray for you," but do I?  How consistent am I in my prayer time?  

When I think of prayer warriors, I am personally reminded of Dottie Noel and Sister Ruth, Pastor Bill's sister, and several others in my life who have been faithful examples of praying for others.  I've always desired to be a prayer warrior like them.   Why not now?   Just the other week an incident happened through which the Lord reminded me of both the importance of prayer and of praying for one another.  

Our 10-year-old daughter came home from school with a project which involved interviewing someone and asking them questions on prayer.   I immediately called Aunt Dottie and asked if Jesslyn could interview her regarding prayer.  She agreed and the two of them talked.  The questions included:  "How do you define intercessory prayer?  When do you pray?  What do you usually pray for?"  I was touched by what had just taken place.  

About 15 minutes later, the phone rang, and it was Aunt Dottie.  She called to thank me for suggesting Jesslyn call.  Aunt Dottie went on to share that she was physically not feeling well and was very discouraged that day.  But God intervened.... He had a little girl call and through their conversation God showed Aunt Dottie that He did care and that she was important and she was making an impact for HIS kingdom.  God showed us an example of intercessory prayer when a 10-year-old girl and a 75-year-old woman of faith connected to share and pray for one another.  I was moved to tears witnessing something that seemed so small yet taught such a big lesson.  

Ephesians 6:18 says, "Pray all the time.  Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit's wishes.  Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere." (The Living Bible)

Intercessory prayer... it's God's command... let's obey HIM, mean it and do it when we say, "I'll pray for you!"  I believe we'll be amazed at how He will use us to impact HIS kingdom.

Donna Bitler

Monday, February 09, 2009

Don't agree with me

Conflict happens.  It is part of living in a fallen world and amongst fallen people.  When you experience conflict are you likely to bring people into the situation that are going to support you and agree with you and your point of view or are you going to seek counsel from those that will be unwilling to take up sides but instead who can and will keep pointing you to the cross and the gospel?   

Recently, I shared a struggle I was having with some friends who I knew would challenge me to think about God's grace and how to think biblically about my situation.  But knowing it and experiencing is two different things.  When one of the women made a suggestion that would completely turn the tables back on me, I initially shuddered. That is not at all what I was looking for but within a few moments I was at peace with her suggestion.  In fact, I started to get a greater vision of what God was up to in my life and my situation.  That evening we were reading from "A Gospel Primer for Christians" and I could sense growing anticipation that God was going to use this situation for His purposes and my good.  I went home and searched through the small little book for every morsel that was even remotely relative to my immediate situation when I came across the following quote:

       "More than anything else I could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

       Preaching the gospel to myself each day provides a lens through which I can view my trials in this way and see the true cause for rejoicing that exists in them. I can then embrace trials as friends and allow them to do God's good work in me. "A Gospel Primer for Christians" (by Milton Vincent, pg 31-32)

I have shared with my husband, who is my greatest fan, that I don't need him to feed my flesh by taking up my banner and defense, I need him to speak the gospel into my life. Seek out people that will speak truth into your life not those that will agree with you and further entrench your own fleshly response.  

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. Ephesians 4:15
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29


Friday, February 06, 2009

Complete in Him

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. Colossians 2:8-10

It is so easy to get caught up in what others think.  We walk away from a conversation and can't get it out of our mind?  Someone doesn't answer our hello and it bugs us for days?  My dear friends, there is a way in each of these examples in which we are looking for something from that person to make us feel complete, whole, okay.  When others disagree with us or are critical and harsh we feel wounded and angry that we are misunderstood.  We lose sleep worrying over conflict in the family, at work or with our neighbor.  Why?  Often, because we want people to like us and even more so, we believe we need people to like and accept us for us to feel and be okay.  When we don't think they do, it becomes a motivation of our heart to fix it somehow, some way.  All of this points to a heart-belief that others complete us, others define who we are, and others determine our sense of well-being.  As long as we are on good terms with everyone, we're okay, but if there is an issue with someone it begins to usurp large portions of our waking hours and sometimes even our sleeping hours.  

When we stop to consider our day's verse, we begin to recall that God alone completes us.  No one will ever be our everything the way that only Jesus Christ can.  Verse 10 says "and you have been filled in him" if we are filled with Jesus Christ, filled full up; there is no empty space that requires other people to fill for us to be okay. So why do we continually look to others to fill us, give us meaning, stability and a sense of value.  Jesus Christ has already done that.  Stop looking elsewhere!

Next time you are feeling attacked, judged, criticized, misunderstood, slandered, accused, or misrepresented, call to mind "I am filled in him (ESV); I am complete in Him (NKJV)" It can suddenly put the entire situation in a Godly perspective and make all the difference in the world in what attitude you will have, how you will process the situation and how you respond.  

Complete is complete. We don't need other people's approval or acceptance to make us more complete.  There is no such thing as more complete.  We are complete in Jesus Christ.  


Thursday, February 05, 2009

He is...

He is the ark that has saved me from death (Genesis)
He is the solid ground upon which I walk (Exodus)
He is the way into the promised land (Joshua)
He is my Kinsmen-Redeemer (Ruth)
He is the one who comes before and created and sustains all things (Job)
He is high and lifted up (Isaiah)
He is the one in the furnace with me (Daniel)
He keeps the lion's mouth clenched (Daniel)
He loves me even though my heart wanders (Hosea)
He takes extrordinary steps to draw me back when I run away (Jonah)
He is my Messiah (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
He is my helper (Acts)
He is the way (Romans)
He is my life (Galatians)
He is my joy (Philippians)
He is preeminent in my life (Hebrews)
He is love in me (1,2,3 John) 
He is my eternal salvation (Revelation)
He is the Victor (Revelation)


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Simple Faith - Part Two

The dialog you read yesrterday has been listened to all over the world by millions of people. Why? I think the answer is simple. The thing at the very center of this story, the one thing that brought tears to my eyes, was the simplicity of Logan's faith - faith that was not the least bit complicated by all sorts of explanations/answers to the "why" question from a son, to his heavenly Father.  There wasn't a lot of baggage or drama between Logan and God, just simple dialog. It doesn't get any better than that for me.

How about you?  Is there anything -anything at all- that stands between you and childlike faith with Father God?  What is that thing that stands between you and God and keeps you from seeing Him for who He really is? From believing that He loves you, cares about you and wants you?

Dear ones, there is no thing too small or too great that you have done or that has been done to you which your Father God does not, will not or can not understand. He knows it all and He understands it all. Yes He does! Everything - He understands everything! 

If you are holding back, if you are feeling lost, alone, afraid, hopeless, ugly, fat, useless, unwanted, unloved, abandoned, rejected, afraid...whatever it is, will you talk to God about it? Don't clean it up or try to make it look prettier or better than it is. Resist the desire to explain it to God and just talk to Him about it. Lay it down at His feet.

Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. ~Proverbs 55:22

I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me.
O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit ~Psalm 30:1-3

Take your mustard seed faith and move toward God, trusting Him to understand everything!! You are more to God than all the dirt you may have collected in your life and/or all the dirty and ugly that has happened to you.

In the words of a 13 year boy, "God can use you. Even when you feel low and you think, "God is never going to use me" and "I'm just a piece of dirt." He'll actually use you. You're not a piece of dirt to God, you're a piece of gold."1 


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Simple Faith - Part One

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~~ Hebrews 11:6

Today I read one of "those" emails. I read it primarily because it was from one of the very few friends who does not send me email designed to provoke guilt and/or shame you into doing something.  As per usual, my soul was blessed within seconds of listening to it. Today I want to share the gist of it with you and give you the link below, where you can go for yourself and listen to the whole thing. 

What you are about to read was said by Logan Henderson, a 13 year old boy who lives on a ranch in the middle of Nebraska. In late October Logan made a phone call to a Christian radio station out of Houston, Texas. The conversation that follows is the brief dialog which took place between Logan and the host of the radio show:

Logan: "Hey Mike, can I talk to you?"
Mike: "You bet Logan, what's up?"
Logan: (Breathing a long sad sigh) "I want to tell you something that God just told me."
Mike:  "Okay...?"
Logan: Last night my dad was roping this calf and this calf had been born from a really old cow...she, she didn't have really the greatest milk...she didn't have like the vitamin C and stuff... (sniff)...
Mike: "Okay...?"
Logan: "She broke her back... (the calf)...and...this morning I went out and put her down myself...(with tear choked words, Logan continues)..."I was talking to God and I was asking God why? She was special."
"And God said, 'You know Logan, my Son was special...but He died for a purpose.'"
Logan: "It's kind of the same thing...that calf was close to me...and God's Son was close to Him."
Mike: "Logan, you're so right. It's true. Think you're going to be okay?"
Logan: "Yeah, I'll be fine. But, I just wanted to tell you guys that...that it's so important...just remember, when you lose a loved one or a pet...always remember that God gave His Son too...and He understands...He will always understand...He will always. Just run to Him."
Mike: "Logan, you're wiser than you know buddy."
Logan: "Oh, I just figured I'd better call and share with you guys. Love you."
Mike: "Love you too."
Logan: "Bye."
Mike: "Bye bye."1

Meet me here tomorrow for the conclusion of this Victory Call...
Until then, may God bless and keep you safe under the shadow of His wing.



Monday, February 02, 2009

Treasure Chest

      My four year old grandson, Elijah, loves stories or shows that have anything to do with pirates and of course...TREASURE! For Christmas he received a treasure chest that has "gold" coins, "jewels" and a treasure map. This is his favorite toy! All children seem to love treasure and the idea of finding it. Well, I don't think it really stops with the kids but carries on right through to adulthood. What is true today was also true in biblical times. But what is true treasure? Is it gold, silver, sapphires or some other jewels? 

In Job 28 (please take the time to read this chapter), Job discusses this very subject with Eliphaz, Bildad and Shuhite, his three friends. As the chapter begins, he describes how a person must go into the depths of the earth, search in the farthest recesses, into the blackest darkness, where not even a lion would dare to go, to mine treasure. Yet, man will go into the depths and darkness to search for one nugget of gold or some precious jewel. Then Job asks a question in 28:12-13, "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth: it cannot be found in the land of the living."

Isn't this just like you and me? We will go to any lengths to find that "treasure." No, I don't mean we go into the mine shaft to find a diamond. But don't some people go to extraordinary lengths to find and get their "treasure" however they define "treasure?" This past Christmas season revealed to the world the lengths some people will go. At a Walmart in Long Island, a 34 year old man was trampled to death because many wanted to get to the "treasure" first.1 Is a man's life worth a television or some latest fad toy? Sadly, apparently some think so in our world today.

Wisdom and understanding are treasures whose price can not even be compared or measured to the mere trinkets of gold, silver or precious jewels. And if its worth is so great, shouldn't you and I desire some of it? So where is this priceless treasure? 

Job 28:23 "God understands the way to it, and he alone knows where it dwells... (vs. 28) And he said to man 'The fear of the Lord - that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'"

There it reverence our Lord, to try to comprehend His awesomeness...this is wisdom. To "shun evil is understanding." We need to have discernment and insight so that we can recognize evil when we come face to face with it. To understand means to know with the mind. 2 There is evil all around and most of it looks like real treasure. You and I must be all the more diligent to be filled with wisdom and understanding from the Lord, because the days are growing short.

The best place I know to "mine" wisdom and understanding is in Scripture. No treasure map needed, just open the Bible and read and ask God to reveal His treasure to you. He is always ready to bless those who honestly seek Him. The priceless treasure of wisdom and understanding is waiting there just for you.

      Just like the joy and eagerness Elijah has with his "treasure chest" my prayer is that we all have that same joy and excitement with the Lord's true treasure.


MaryAnn and John Kiernan have been married for 35 years, have 2 grown/married sons and are the proud grandparents of two grandsons. She serves at America's KESWICK as a Biblical Counselor and also as Intake Coordinator for the Colony of Mercy. Her life verse is Romans 8:28.

1 retrieved 1/12/09
2 retrieved 1/12/09