Friday, July 31, 2009

Honor and Reverence

Malachi 1:6-14 lists the grievances the Lord had towards the priests and people of the time. God received no honor and no reverence. The sacrifices that were being offered were lame, sick and blind. (Lev. 22:20-25, Deut. 15:21) The sacrifices were offered with an insincere heart that despised God's name and they had become weary of doing the requirements given by God.
How about you and me? We also can become haphazard in our worship and become weary of doing things God's way. God required honor and reverence, yet how often do we contemplate His position in that way? If we only see God as our friend and good buddy then we do not see Him in His totality. If we are weary of serving and living for Him, then what position has He taken in your life? Who is it that is being exalted?

Kathy Howard shares in her study a story about one of her children who had some candy. When she had asked for some, the reply was, "Sure, Mom you can have all the green ones!" Hum? I have done the same thing with bags of candy- I like the red Starbursts and all the Skittles but the green ones. Those would be the first I would offer. Do I do this to God? How does He view me when I only offer Him the pieces I don't like? I suspect He is not pleased with me either. When there is no fear of God and there is no honor of Him, it will show in our actions. We will get sloppy and God is not pleased. God's sacrifice for us, Jesus Christ, was a perfect sacrifice. Could you and I say we are a holy, living sacrifice being offered to Him today?

As you begin the day consider inserting your name in the verse below:
"And now, ______, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires you to fear him, to live according to his will, to love and worship him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the Lord's commands and laws, that I am giving you today for your own good." Deut. 10:12-13 (NLT)

Also, remember:
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

Kathy Withers

Kathy serves at America's KESWICK in the Guest Services Department. She is married to Dave and has two children, Michael and Kerri.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

But it's hard...

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tend to my sister's 6 children (2, 2, 9, 9, 9, and 10) for a week. I am still in one piece and so are they. I clearly understand why the Lord saw fit to give me only 2 children (now grown). As the week wore on, and the kids were missing Mom and Dad more and more and probably had enough of Aunt Diane, the verbal bantering seemed to increase. One morning as I was reading my Bible it dawned on me that it would be good to have them memorize a well selected Bible verse:

Ephesians 4:29: "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). We worked on it all day. One nephew, in particular, was struggling, saying "It's hard," to which I replied, as any Aunt would, "Just because it's hard is no reason not to do it." Each in turn succeeded in memorizing the verse.

The morning after I returned from my "play week" I was reading the Bible and the Lord prompted me to take my own words to heart. Honestly, I have not been memorizing Scripture consistently in a long time. Do I believe there is great value in it? Absolutely! Do I believe it is needful and profitable? Absolutely! Do I encourage and even counsel people to memorize Scripture? Sure. Then why do I not consistently memorize the Word of God myself?

How about you? I would venture a guess of our close to 900 Victory Call subscribers less than 1/2, probably less that 1/4 of you are consistently memorizing Scripture. Why? Why are we not more faithfully hiding God's Word in our hearts? The number one reason I hear? It's hard. Just like what my 9-year-old nephew said.

It takes time and effort. Just because it's hard, is that a good reason not to do it?

Psalm 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

God's Embrace God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:16-18

Oh, that we may really, really, really understand the embrace of God. For every believer, born-gain in the Spirit, He is our God and we are His people. He is our Father, we are His daughters.

As a grandparent, I know the delight and absolute joy of embracing my grandchildren. I want to hug them up real good, but alas they giggle, wiggle and squirm after a moment or two. I may want to hug but they want to run and play.

God delights in us and wants to wrap us in His everlasting embrace that says: I chose you. You are mine. I am your Father, you are my daughter. Forever and always.

Before rushing off to your busy day, would you take a moment and meditate on your Father's embrace, rest your head upon His chest and say, "Thank You. I love You."


Tuesday, July 28, 2009


We think with our HEART... Genesis 6:5
We pray with our HEART...1 Samuel 1:13
We love with our HEART...Deuteronomy 6:5
We hate with our HEART... 2 Samuel 6:16

Our HEART deceives us...Jeremiah 17:9
Our HEART fears... 1 Samuel 28:5
Our HEART can become hardened...Ephesians 4:18

We seek God with our HEART...Psalm 27:8
We meditate in our HEART...Psalm 27:8
We can become proud in our HEART...2 Chronicles 3

With our HEART we rejoice ...1 Samuel 2:1
With our HEART we grieve... 1 Samuel 2
With our HEART we are faithful to God...1 Samuel 2
With our HEART we discern ... 1 Kings 3
With our HEART we store things... Psalm 119:11
With our HEART we sing and make music... Ephesians 5
With our HEART we repent...Psalm 51, Joel 2
With our HEART we believe... Psalm 51

Therefore, sisters, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Proverbs 4:23


Monday, July 27, 2009

Real Freedom

I recently was speaking to a woman on the phone when she told me that her pastor denies there is such a thing as addiction because it doesn't appear in the Bible. I'm glad I was on the phone so she couldn't see my jaw drop. The word "Trinity" doesn't appear in the Bible either but I wouldn't go as far as to deny its existence. I shared with my caller that the Bible does speak through and through about idolatry of which addiction is a form. She wholeheartedly agreed.

Far too often we consider idolatry to refer to bowing down to worship little statues with big bulging bellies, yet idolatry goes far beyond that. The more common idols today are idols of the heart.

Ezekiel 14:3-5 "Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols."

When we become convicted of the grip idolatry has on our hearts I think our first cry to God is that He remove them from our lives. I remember praying that God would smash the idol at the foot of the cross - it sounds good, but it didn't happen.
"The death of an idol comes not from it ceasing to be an idol, or from its removal, but it comes from knowing that I no longer have to serve it."1

That is victorious living. By the power and presence of Jesus Christ in me, I no longer have to serve any idols. I'm free to walk in obedience. Hallelujah!!!


1 Personal Quote - Lidia Mocelo

Friday, July 24, 2009

Do You Fear God?

I have been studying the book of Malachi over several weeks. I would like to share some of the things I have been learning from this small prophet at the end of the Old Testament. I am using a study called "Before His Throne" by Kathy Howard and have enjoyed searching the Scriptures each day over a nine week period. Kathy begins this study with teaching in depth about what it means to fear God.

What do you think fearing God means? Perhaps you have thought that fearing God means that we must be afraid of Him, terrorized or fearful. Is fearing God the same as the feeling in my stomach when the lights flash in my rearview mirror? Scripture clearly tells us that we are to fear God but what would a healthy fear of God be like? In Hebrew it is "yare" meaning to fear, be afraid; to stand in awe of, be awed; to fear; reverence, honor and respect. Fear often in Scripture may be translated as reverence, awe or worship. What would this fear look like if it were lived out in the life of a believer? The person who fears God according to Scripture is described as teachable, wise, one who seeks understanding, hates what God hates, is confident in Christ, seeks refuge in Christ, calls on the Father and glorifies Him. Those who do not fear God are described as those who do not seek the Lord, hate knowledge, seek their own way, are not righteous, do not profit, practice deceit and have no peace.1.

Malachi 1 clearly describes a people who had lost their fear of God. The sacrifices they offered were blemished, their attitude towards godly things became complacent and God's words and instructions became a burden. They no longer saw God as holy and they began to have a casual relationship towards God. How about you and me? Have we become one-sided? Do we think of God as only love, love, love and forgotten He is holy, holy, holy? You and I need to know all the attributes of God. When we do we will be humbled and we will have a fear of God because He deserves to be feared for who He is. A.W. Tozer says an encounter with the holiness of God "is an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty."2. In other words, He is God and I am not. Kathy Howard adds, "We must allow the fear of God to become a pervasive attitude that plays itself out in our thoughts, words and behavior. We can say that we fear God, but such statements are only words if our lives do not reflect a yielded obedience to Him. A proper attitude toward God will be evident in the way we live."3.

Again I ask, do you and I fear God?

Kathy Withers serves in Guest Services at America's KESWICK. She is wife to Dave and mom to Michael and Kerri.

1. Psalm 25:12-14, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:28-31, Proverbs 8:13-14, Proverbs 14:26-27, Romans 3:10-18, 1 Peter 1:17-19
2. "The Knowledge of the Holy" by A.W. Tozer
3. "Before His Throne" by Kathy Howard

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glorify God

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Not only are we to be like-minded, toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, but it is so that we may WITH ONE MIND AND ONE MOUTH GLORIFY THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

It all comes back to the glory of God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1Thess 1:11-12

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Psalm 86:8-10

When together, our deepest desire, our greatest passion is for God's glory, we WILL be like-minded towards one another according to Christ Jesus and we will with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

According to Christ Jesus

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6

This week we have been looking at Romans 15:5-6. Thus far we have considered that we are to be like-minded toward one another. But not only are we to be like-minded toward one another, but we are to be like-minded toward one another ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS.

As I have shared previously, last year I asked the Addiction Recovery Staff to pray daily Romans 15:5-6 for our team. Over time I realized I was leaving out the phrase, ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS. Just that short little phrase makes a big difference because it is a reminder that this is not about us anyway. Apart from Christ Jesus there is no hope of being like-minded toward one another; we are far too self-centered, self-appreciating to be like-minded toward others. But that's apart from Christ.

Remembering that we are to be like-minded toward one another ACCORDING TO CHRIST JESUS is like driving a stake in the ground, it brings our central focus back to Jesus.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Toward One Another

Romans 15:5-6 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday we considered that we are to be like-minded, but not only are we to be like-minded, but we are to be like-minded TOWARD ONE ANOTHER.

We can deceive ourselves that we are like-minded until we make it personal. It's easy to be like-minded in theory, but we are to be like-minded TOWARD ONE ANOTHER.

I wonder how much damage has been done when we gossip ABOUT ONE ANOTHER rather than being like-minded TOWARD ONE ANOTHER.

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:12-15

Being like-minded is personal. We are to be like-minded toward other people, even the ones that rub us the wrong way (if you by chance have any of those in your life). We are to be like-minded toward one another.


Monday, July 20, 2009


I recently had the opportunity to speak at our Staff Chapel on Romans 15:5-6: Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

This week let's consider briefly a few key points of this Scripture.

We are to be like-minded.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by BEING OF THE SAME MIND, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:1-3 (caps mine)

What does it mean to be like-minded? It does not mean that we all think exactly alike. Paul gives 3 descriptions of like-mindedness.

1. "Having the same love." It would be difficult if not impossible to be like-minded with someone that does not love Jesus. That is why God tells us not to be unequally yoked. "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?"1
2. Being of one accord: "to be consistent or in harmony"2
3. Of one mind : "...walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."3

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have this in common with all other believers: We all love and serve Jesus Christ. This agreement provides a solid foundation upon which to build like-mindedness.


1 2 Corinthians 6:14
2 accessed 07.08.09
3 Ephesians 4:1-6

Friday, July 17, 2009

Be Intentional

Every day 1440 minutes pass. Every week 10,080 minutes pass. Every month 43,200 minutes pass. Every year 525,600 minutes pass. What are you doing with your time?

Are you intentional in whatever God has called you to today? Time passes one way or another. Very little of value gets accomplished by accident.

Do you parent intentionally?
Do you worship intentionally?
Do you pray and meditate intentionally?
Do you encourage others intentionally?
Do you read Scripture intentionally?
Do you serve intentionally?
Do you love intentionally?
Do you forgive intentionally?
Do you befriend intentionally?
Do you submit to others intentionally?
Do you bear others burdens intentionally?
Do you seek to be holy intentionally?
Do you weep with those who weep intentionally?
Do you rejoice with those who rejoice intentionally?
Do you accept others intentionally?

What will you do with your 1440 minutes today?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Who is My Enemy?

When we consider the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) we recall the lawyer who stood up seeking to test Jesus and justify himself, asking Jesus, ìWho is my neighbor?î and Jesus replied with the story of the Samaritan that journeyed by the wounded man and stopped to care for him, even though Samaritans were considered dogs, enemies. ìSo,î Jesus asked, ìwhich of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?î In so doing, Jesus expanded their perspective of who was their neighbor.

Jesus told his listeners, ìëYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,í and ëyour neighbor as yourself.íî Loving their neighbor didnít sound too bad until Christ challenged their idea of neighbor.

Now, instead of asking who is my neighbor, I want to ask you, who is your enemy? Yesterday, we read Matthew 5:44-45 where Christ commands his followers to love their enemies. It would be so easy to reverse the above situation. Rather than seeing our neighbor as someone close to us, relationally or geographically, Jesus broadens our perspective to include those that may not even be known or liked. Likewise, rather than seeing your enemy as someone remote from yourself that hates you and actively wars against you, would you consider with me those ìenemiesî that are close to you?

If you were to ask me if I had any enemies, I would be hard-pressed to name one. Are there people that are not fans? Yes. Are there people that I irritate? Yes. Are there people who would seek to avoid me? Yes. Are there people that disagree with me? Yes, even strongly disagree. Are there people of whom I am not a fan? Yes. Are there people that irritate me? Yes. Are there people who I may try to avoid? Yes. Are there people I disagree with, even strongly disagree with? Yes. Does that make them my enemy? Again, we are trying to apply the principle of ìwho is my neighborî in reverse. Could not my ìenemyî be closer than I think? I believe so.

What if we treated those close to us as our ìenemiesî biblically, when we disagree, argue, get angry or are in conflict? NOW STAY WITH ME BECAUSE IF YOU DRIFT HERE, YOU WILL COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTAND ME. All of us have times of opposition with those who are very near and dear to us. If we treated those dear ones as ìenemiesî according to Matthew 5, we would love them, bless them, pray for them and do good unto them which is far better than the way we are prone to treat those with whom we are in conflict, even family and friends. Am I right?

ìYou have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.î Matthew 5:43-45

Perhaps rather than asking ìWho is our neighbor?î we need to be asking ìwho is our enemy?î


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Actively Loving My Enemy

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" ~ NKJV Matthew 5:44-45

These are Christ's words to His followers.

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES... okay, sounds difficult and certainly not my preference but I can chose to love my enemies by God's grace. So far, it doesn't sound like I actually have to interact with them.

BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU... okay, again, sounds difficult and certainly not my preference but I can chose to bless those who curse me by God's grace. I think I can ask God to bless them and still not have to interact with them.

PRAY FOR THOSE WHO SPITEFULLY USE AND PERSECUTE YOU... I can pray for my enemy and never actually interact with her.
BUT this is the one that stopped me dead in my tracks:

DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU... DO GOOD? Now this sounds extremely difficult, if not impossible, to actually do good to my enemies. This requires I interact with them. Now it's personal. It is going to cost me something to do good to my enemy as God commands.

In reality, all of these components of Jesus' words require a change at the level of the heart. If I genuinely seek to love my enemies, bless those that curse me and pray for those that spitefully use me - I will be seeking ways TO interact with them and do good unto them.

Will it cost me? You bet.

It will cost me time, requiring I sacrificially give it when in my heart I'd rather be doing something else.
It will cost me pride, requiring I humble myself.
It will cost me self-protection, requiring I trust Christ to be my guard.
It will cost me effort, requiring I go out of my way to find ways to serve my enemy.
It will cost me self, requiring I be more concerned with their needs than my own.
It will cost me the satisfaction of being right (if I am), requiring that I value God's glory above my own.
It will cost me in intention, requiring I seek ways to do good to them rather than ways to avoid them.

Does it cost us to follow Jesus? Absolutely, but not nearly as much, not nearly as much as it cost Him to make it possible.
Today, do good unto your enemy.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fight the good fight but stop trying so hard

A few years ago, we studied Steve McVey's books "GraceWalk" and "Godward Gaze" in our Higher Ground women's group. The study was rich and life-transforming for many of the women. One of the truths that made such a huge impact on the women and continues to even today is stop trying and start trusting. So many of us go through our Christian walk trying and trying to measure up, falling short over and over, getting up and dusting ourselves off and making ourselves feel better by promising to do better next time. We are trapped in a vicious cycle of failure and trying harder and harder to be a good Christian. McVey's point is that it's already a done deal: Christ accomplished for us what we can never accomplish for ourselves: Live the Christian life perfectly. So rather than trying harder we need to rest in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Trusting by faith that we are already perfected, holy, and accepted.

Recently, I have been reading "The Enemy Within" by Kris Lundgaard. Perhaps for the first time in my 26 years as a follower of Jesus Christ I am starting to really understand the battle of my flesh as a real enemy of the things of God. There dwells within me the law of sin that wars against the Spirit. (Romans 7:23) Now, don't misunderstand me - the only power the law of sin has over me is what I grant it because "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) But, whether through laziness, ignorance or self-centeredness, or more likely a combination of all three, I have granted my flesh, indwelling sin far too much sway in my life. I failed to recognize the mole - the enemy within. I was more intuned to the enemy without - temptations from outside of myself. Of late, I have been quickened in my spirit to be alert to the law of sin that resides within. "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." Romans 7:22-23 As I have gained understanding (even if feebly) of the enemy of my soul that resides within me, that is indwelling sin, which will remain until I see Jesus face to face, I am more and more certain that I must fight the flesh reckoning it dead.

At first blush - McVey and Lundgaard sound like they are contradicting one another; one saying stop trying start trusting, the other saying fight to mortify the flesh the enemy within. So which is it? Stop trying or fight?

We need to stop trying in our own strength to do that which Christ has already accomplished and trust in His finished work.
We need to fight to put to death the deeds of the flesh BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13 We need to fight, not in our own strength but by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Please do not rush past this truth because this distinction is vital to our spiritual health and growth.

Take some time today and read Romans 6, 7 and 8 meditating upon the truths packed into these 87 verses. Savor them like a piece of rich chocolate, extracting every morsel of truth, allowing it to sink deeply into your spirit.

Oh, sisters, that we would be changed.


Monday, July 13, 2009


A few months ago my Aunt had been ill and went through two major surgeries. I went to see her soon after the second surgery. Upon waking she told me that she didn't think she would be here much longer. I knew in my heart that that was probably the case. Aunt Jo continued her thought by quoting a familiar hymn, "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long." She was an organist for many years and her love of music was always apparent. These words easily came to her mind. Here in trying times and near the end of her life her desire was to see Jesus and to praise Him all day long. It was hard and difficult to watch my aunt suffer over the last few months of her life, yet it was a privilege to see her finish well.

I share this because I am challenged at how well I will finish. Will Jesus continue to be the desire of my heart? If I make it to 87 years of age will my love for Him be as strong?

In the midst of pain and uncertainty will I cling to Jesus? As I face death will I waver or long to see His face? I hope to finish well but I know that my "finish" begins today. My finish is determined by the choices I make today. A little compromise today may be all that it takes to cause me to falter at the finish line.

If you feel like you have quit the race you can still get back in. If you feel disqualified you need only repent. Today may be the day you will choose to memorize Scripture and songs that will later carry you through dark valleys. Maybe today is the day that you need to choose to get back on track with your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let these verses be your hope and goal today:
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God." Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

Kathy Withers

Kathy works in Guest Services at America's KESWICK. She is married to Dave and Mom to Michael and Kerri.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pick 2

I walked in to the doctor's office with my grocery list of symptoms. I try to get as much out of one visit as possible, so I make a list of things to discuss so I don't have to take the time off work to drive there and then sit for 45 minutes waiting for my appointment, etc. (I think that if we are made to wait more than 10 minutes from our appointment time, the fee should be reduced $10 for every 10 minutes we are made to wait). Anyway, I was ushered into the examining room after the dreaded weigh-in, blood pressure and temperature routine. I sat on the examining table with list in hand waiting for the doctor to see me. Finally, she came into the room - spotted the list and said, "I don't have time to deal with all those, pick 2." I was stunned. I quickly scanned my list hoping I selected the 2 most vital issues. My opinion of my former doctor dropped a few notches that day.

Recently, I was thinking and meditating about God and it occurred to me that I have never and will never enter His Throne room to hear Him say, "I don't have time for all that, pick 2." NOT EVER will He be too busy or too distracted by the affairs of nations and people or the workings of the heavens with the sun, moon and the billions and billions stars He is keeping in orbit to push me aside as unimportant. EVERY TIME I enter His Throne room, He gives me undivided attention as if I was the only one in the world. It is amazing to me that at that very same moment you, too, could enter His Throne room and He would give you absolutely undivided attention, as if YOU were the only one in the world. How great is our God!!!

Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Psalm 66:19 "But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer."


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Secure It By Force

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, sisters, 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 simple glance through recent history bears this out. How many men, women and children are awakened in the midst of their slumber 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 he's coming or going, he can have 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."

The same passage 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.

Today, with a loud voice 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.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Got Wisdom? II

We can learn much about wisdom not just in Proverbs but throughout the entire Bible. Each page, from Genesis through Revelation, is filled with wisdom, examples of those who were wise and those who were not. There is much for us to learn from those who did not walk in the way of wisdom and from those who were wise but failed to continue to put it all into practice and walk in obedience to God.

Solomon. The wisest man who ever lived. God blessed him with so much more than wisdom. In Second Chronicles 1:12 God says, "...And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." It is very sad however to read further on about King Solomon. Yes, he possessed great wisdom but somehow he failed to practice what he preached and that brought him to a very low state in his later years. King Solomon allowed the other blessings God showered on him to go to his head and lead him astray.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-17 "I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who had ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge. Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly..."

Ecclesiastes 2:10 "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure...everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind..."

There it is, Solomon seemed to have left wisdom behind and caved into any and all desires of the flesh that he could find. This is heartbreaking, the man that God blessed in abundance with wisdom, knowledge, riches, and power took his eyes off the One who gave it to him and chose the desires of the flesh which are meaningless and only temporary in satisfaction.

There is much for us to glean from the life of Solomon. We are truly blessed to have Solomon's book of wisdom, the Proverbs, but we have to remember the example of his life as well. If you and I possess wisdom and understanding but fail to daily walk in obedience, we will also fall into seeking temporary pleasures of the flesh that will lead to our downfall.

After all was said and done in Solomon's life, after all his pleasure seeking, he concluded:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandment, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil."

My prayer for you and for me is that we will seek wisdom.

James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

But also that we would always put it into practice and never take our eyes off the One who gives it.

Matthew 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

Hosea 14:9 "Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them."

Mary Ann

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.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Got Wisdom?

Proverbs 4:7 "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

Have you ever prayed for wisdom? In my prayer time this request comes up often. Though too often I think I'm more worried about acquiring more "knowledge"...about the Bible, God, and Jesus. Knowledge is very good but knowledge alone is not wisdom. There needs to be knowledge combined with wisdom. However, there is still another essential ingredient that must be added to these two, otherwise all my knowledge and wisdom will be rendered useless. And that ingredient is the practice of wisdom...putting feet to the wisdom God has in obedience to what God has revealed to me through His Word.

When Solomon became king of Israel, he understood that the task before him was great and daunting. Solomon succeeded his father as King of Israel. His father was King David and God himself said David was a man after God's own heart....How in the world could Solomon follow in David's footsteps?

In the beginning of Solomon's reign, God came to him in a dream and asked, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." (2 Chronicles 1:7) Solomon could have asked for anything but he knew he would need one thing more than any other. He was very young and inexperienced and so he knew what he needed beyond all else.

2 Chronicles 1:10 "Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

Can you imagine God saying to you...go ahead ask for anything you want and I'll give it to you? I certainly can't. I would like to think I would ask for the things Solomon did. Solomon knew that he needed wisdom and knowledge more than anything - even riches - to be able to rule as king of Israel.

King Solomon is still known as the wisest man who ever lived. God truly blessed him and we have the book of Proverbs filled with wisdom for all of us to glean from.

Proverbs 8:10-11 "Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her."

Proverbs 3:13-14 "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold."

Proverbs 2:1-6 "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."

Proverbs 2:10 "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul."

So what about you? Got wisdom?

Mary Ann

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.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Though we deserve darkness...

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:4-5

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. John 1:9

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:15b-16

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1John 1:5-7

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. Revelation 21: 23-24

Though we deserve darkness...He gives us light. He is light. We walk in the light because He is in the light.

Doesn't the eternal city sound amazing (Rev 21:23-24)? Where there will be no need of a sun or moon because the glory of God will give us light!! I, for one, am looking forward to that day when all darkness will be dispelled, never to be experienced again and we will forever live in the visible presence of HIS LIGHT.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Forgiveness Three

It doesn't matter how right you feel, how justified you think you are, or that you think you are righteous enough to somehow be exempt from being a forgiver. The truth is, apart from the grace of a holy, just and always right God, you and I will always sin and fall short. We can't live right enough to hold another person's soul captive in his sin.

And, just in case you think I don't get it, read what the Word of God says in Romans 3:9-11, "...what then? are we better than they? Not at all....for it is written, 'there is none righteous, no not one.'"

That means apart from the atoning, shed blood of Jesus - we have nothing. Before a holy righteous God we stand clean in Christ alone. It's in Him alone that our hope is found. It's in Him, Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, that we live and move and breathe and have our being.

So what does this mean? It means, we have to choose to let go again, again, again and again. And sometimes it means we have to pull the scab back and let the poison ooze out so we can heal.

Hey, I'm right in there with you. None of us has arrived or yet attained the prize. Let us not lose heart. Let's keep the faith. Let's finish the race. Let's endure for the prize, "the crown of righteousness," through Christ alone!


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Forgiveness Two

"If you are harboring a root of bitterness, if you're holding onto unforgiveness, you need to examine yourself and see if you're really a Christian." --Dr. John Gerstner

When I first heard that statement I didn't like the sound of it at all. But as I ponder it, I think it is a fair question for someone to wrestle with.

Forgiveness is characteristic of those who are followers of Christ. If we are who we say we are then we must be marked by forgiveness.

One thing I can guarantee you is this, it ain't easy!! Not even a little bit. But I can promise you this - it is possible. How do I know? With God all things are possible!!

Something that God has to show me again, again and again is at that exact point that I am willing to hold an offense, a hurt, a wrong deed done against my brother or my sister - in that moment - I stand naked before God and in need of forgiveness myself. No exceptions. No ifs, ands, or buts about it!

I'm not sorry to tell you that you will never come up with a scenario from your life that will justify the harboring of bitterness, anger and resentment. So without being morbidly introspective, let's ponder the following questions for the purpose of being brutally honest in evaluating our own heart and life.

If you don't think you can be objective in this evaluation, ask someone whom you trust to help you.
* Are you a forgiver? - Do you choose, choose, choose to practice, practice, practice forgiving?
* Do you mull over, nurse, rehearse the things that are done by your husband, family, friends, etc?
* Do you withhold forgiveness until it feels right?
* Are you waiting for the offender to come and seek your forgiveness for hurting you?
* Are you holding them hostage by withholding affection, kindness, patience, love, intimacy, etc?
* Are you entertaining thoughts of how you can get justice?
* Are you praying for them?
* Are you keeping a list and checking it twice?
* Are you a Christian?

Dear sisters, I can tell you from experience and from observation, unforgiveness is poison. It will destroy you while you wait to do the right thing. See Acts 8:23


Wednesday, July 01, 2009


To say that there is much confusion, misunderstanding and angst surrounding the word forgiveness would be a gross understatement. Forgiveness is a word that many of us are quick to say we practice and, of those who say so, much unforgiveness abounds.

I've heard a plethora of explanations that attempt to justify why forgiveness is not being offered and every single one of those explanations/excuses falls short of the standard clearly laid out for us in the pages of Scripture.

In Leviticus we read the following statement again and again: "In this way the priest will make atonement for them and they will be forgiven."

What's the premise? Atonement made; forgiveness granted. The end of it all is this -once atonement was/is made forgiveness/freedom comes. The offense no longer carries a penalty.

Leviticus 6:7 says, "In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the Lord and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty. Even those who sinned unintentionally were forgiven."

Let's look at a few more verses and see the foundation laid for us to follow:

Matthew 6:12 clearly says, "forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors."

In Matthew 9:2, Jesus forgives a man who didn't even ask for forgiveness simply because He saw his faith. Now that's one to pause and ponder. From whom are you withholding forgiveness simply because they haven't asked you yet?

In Matthew 26:27-28 Jesus took the cup, drank from it and said, "this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Luke 6:37 says, "do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven."

And finally, going back to Matthew 6:12-14, we read, "forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins."
I don't think it can get any plainer than that. Do you?

So it's as clear as can be that we are never, ever given the freedom to hold an offense against another, not ever.