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Archive for January, 2015

“Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

Truth and Freedom! Could there be any two more powerful concepts in the world today? The twin concepts of Truth and Freedom find their way in to everything from politics, motivational and religious speeches, to advertising campaigns.

Quoted by believers and non-believers alike, John 8:32 bears two bold promises:  we can know the truth, and we can have freedom. The second promise hinges on the first promise, but the first promise also hinges on something very important as well! Jesus says:  “Then you will know the truth…”  The word “then” points us to the previous verses.

 “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,

‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

Then you will know the truth,

and the truth will set you free.’”

John 8:31

Stepping back even further to the beginning of this conversation, we discover what Jesus is referring to when He talks about “believing.”

 “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

Truth and Freedom are amazing concepts, but Jesus Christ was not just talking about discerning what is a lie or freedom to live as we wish.  Jesus focusing on our search for spiritual truth and freedom which can only be found by following Him.  We become Jesus’ disciples through the power of faith in Him, trusting in His payment for our sins through His death on the cross. As the Light of the World, Jesus leads each of us to the place of Truth and Freedom.

I personally am facing a particular circumstance where I long for Truth and Freedom.  But as murky as the water around this circumstance feels, I still have a daily choice that will lead me towards health…that choice is faith!  My circumstances may not be changing (yet), but I remember how radically Christ has rescued me in the past when I have responded in faith, and I know He will do it again!  When I embrace His Truth in my heart internally (“I believe in You, Jesus, You are God and I am not, You are the Light of the World, and You hear my prayers), my perspective on external circumstances grows in clarity and health, resulting in Freedom.

How has Christ’s Truth and Freedom impacted you in the past?

How about today?  Do you feel like you are in a dark place?  Where do you need Jesus Christ to illuminate a dark place for you and lead you in to His Light?

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We live in a pine forest with hundreds of trees 60-85 ft tall, and love to watch the wind push and pull those big trees in a swaying motion that looks like dancing. It is an amazing sight. As the wind whistles through the pine needles, it makes the most wonderful, whooshing sound. I have always wanted to catch it on video, or record the wonderful sounds; I just love it! It reminds me of the movement of the Holy Spirit, which you can feel but can’t see.

God’s presence has been compared to the wind. We can’t create it, can’t schedule it, can’t control it. When God shows up, there is excitement in the air, in our hearts and minds, in the movement of the circumstances around us. At times it’s as obvious as the wind in the trees, other times, it’s a nudge you perceive only in the silence.

Watching a spectacular sunset, or enjoying an unexpected call, I whisper a “thank you” to God. It feels like a gift, at just the right moment, lifting my spirits when only God would understand how particularly vulnerable I was feeling.

Surprised to find a burst of “I’ve got your back” confidence, I recognize God giving me strength, and wisdom to deal with the problem staring me down. This, while I’m stuck rehearsing my weaknesses and inadequacies.

I relax in the sweet anointing of peace flooding my soul amidst the turmoil and anxiety of grief, as I hear God speak to me “You are mine.”  I know that God is with me, and I am not alone in my grief.  I am encouraged by remembering the occasions where I felt the close presence of God.

Yet, most of the time, God seems to be silent. Truthfully, I long for the presence of God in a tangible, catch-your-breath sort of way. Like the sudden burst of wind that makes the trees dance and sing, and my soul leap for joy. But, more often I embrace the many ways the Holy Spirit guides me, and gratefully accept by faith His extraordinary presence in my life. Even when I don‘t see or feel it, I know “He is Near.”

Isaiah 43:5:  “Do not be afraid, for I AM with you.”
Matthew 28:20: “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
Hebrews 13:5: “God has said: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”

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God Listens

Does God listen to my prayers? So many times in my life I have pondered this question. It really, as I think back, did not matter what circumstance the prayer came from. What mattered was the heart that was behind the prayer, a twofold mindset centered around faith, as I have realized much deeper within the last two years. God not only hears our prayers, He listens to our hearts.

The 2014 year was a very heartfelt year for me. Many times I simply cried out to God because I felt so many emotions I did not know how to deal with them. I had family issues with roots so deep I didn’t understand, and a love so deep within me I didn’t know how to express. I was lost, and in deep despair. This was again a time in my life that I wondered, “God, do you hear my prayers?” The prayers were for wisdom. They were for healing. I began to research deeper than I had ever before, and begun the Bible study with Beth Moore, Believing God. This study led me to the hall of faith, as some call it. It was not about the scholars, or the popular, or those in high astute positions. It was about those who truly Believed God in every aspect possible. They trusted God. Because they did, God listened to their prayers. It also led me back to another study I completed on the book of James where I realized the second of the twofold I spoke about above. I had to believe! James 1:5-8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double- minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

The Lord had positively reminded me that everything was in His hands. I had only to believe and trust that He knew what He was doing! He not only heard my prayers, He heard my heart and my cries. He has given me great wisdom since I began my dedicated walk with him, but it is amazing what God has led me to in wisdom in answer to the prayers of last year. I am so very grateful! He is a God of wonder and awe, a God of mercy and grace, and a God who listens intently from our hearts to his. We need only to believe, and know that the results are in His hands according to His perfect will. I John 5:14 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

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Complacent and comfortable. We have all been there. Satisfied with our circumstances. Satisfied with our lot. Satisfied with living safe and unradical. Satisfied with ourselves and our status quo.

This complacent and comfortable works for a while and then we are blindsided. Blindsided by a blow to our health, our finances, our family, or our job. This blow can be so powerful that it requires a move.

We can’t stay where we are. We are forced to move, act, or react in some way or in some capacity. Where we go and what we do depends solely on our level of faith and trust in God.

If we read God’s Word, the true heroes of the faith had to give up comfort and complacency in order to fully obey God. Moses chose to speak when he didn’t think he could. Daniel chose to defy a king’s orders to stay true to the King of Kings. Abraham chose to leave his homeland for a land, foreign and unfamiliar.

Their choices were unconventional. They were risky. They were far from wise from a world’s standpoint. Frankly and humanly speaking, their choices seemed utterly foolish. But every conscious step toward God and His plan, no matter how uncomfortable and selfless, drew them deeper and more intimately into a walk with God that was beyond compare.

Following Jesus isn’t meant for those seeking self-satisfaction and comfort.

Following Jesus is far from conventional.

Following Jesus is scary, risky, and downright difficult.

Following Jesus fully means that we don’t listen to what the world says or what logic says. As Charles Stanley has said, we “obey and leave all the consequences to Him.”

This means we give when we don’t think we have anything left to give. We act when we don’t know that we have the strength or power to do so. We listen for the Holy Spirit when we don’t believe we know our next step. We hold out our hand and grab God’s. We tell Him we will trust Him even though it looks wrong on paper or crazy to our family. For every step toward God is one step toward His glory and His purposes. And as we follow, we remember Jesus’ words to Peter before his sifting:

“But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

Luke 22:32

More encouraging verses:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.”

I Timothy 1:7

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”

II Corinthians 12:9a

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