Devotions 91-98

91.  FRESH WIND
There’s a song by Keith Staten titled “Such Joy”, and there’s a line in the song that goes like this:  “There’s a joy no bounds can hold when the Spirit blows a fresh wind through my soul.”  I love that.
Lord, blow a fresh wind through my soul.
Open the windows, all the entry points to my soul:
the senses—the sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch, and the thoughts.
Lord, open and clear them by Your Spirit of all the debris.
Clear the dust of compromise, the secret corners that are dark,
the webs of self-interest and self-obsession,
the entanglements that steal my time,
the stale air of my own perspective.
I give Your Spirit free reign over mine, today, right now.
It is a choice I must make every moment.
My Spirit answers like a rushing wind, unleashing prayer with power according to My will.  Pray.  Love.  Pray.  Each moment that you choose My Spirit’s rule over yours will have the potential to change you and the world around you.  Pray My word over this world and be a participant in My sovereign kingdom.  Today, right now, moment by moment.

 

92.  MY KINGDOM
I’m struggling, Lord, to understand how I’m
to respond to the changes I see in the world
around me.
It’s easy to get angry or afraid, but mostly I’m
just sad.
An election year seems to bring out the worst in
everyone.
I see and hear such a wide range of
reactions and opinions that I need to close
all that out and hear from
You.
Only You have the words of life.
These are tempestuous times, to be sure.  Your need, My child, is to come to Me and hear My heart.  Close out the voices that scream for your attention and sit at My feet.  None of these things come as a surprise to Me, nor are they out of My ultimate control.  I have given dominion of the earth to man who fell under Satan’s deceit, and the consequences are played out in every place on every day.  But I am still God, Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, and I rule over even the brokenness you see around you.
As you sit with Me, hear My beating heart for a world and its people who are blinded, seduced, and enslaved by sin.  I sent My very own Son to pay the price in full for the sins of the world; His blood was powerful enough to cover it all.  It is My will and heart that each person would come into My kingdom.  There is not a person that I do not love with all My heart.  I hate sin, but I do not hate sinners.
Beware of pride or any form of self-righteousness.  I hate the sins of My children just as much as any sins of the world.  Besides simply being wrong, those who practice these sins heap more condemnation on themselves by claiming to know Me or speak for Me.  They mislead people by giving the impression that I agree with their assessment even while they speak in hateful language.  Cursing, name-calling, belittling, and the like have no place in My vocabulary, nor should they in yours.
Right is right.  Wrong is wrong.  I am a holy God, and judgment lies with Me alone.  Leave it there.  I can handle it.  Remember that I see every attitude and sin of your heart, speech, action, and motive just as clearly as I see any flagrant sin of any unbeliever.
No matter who I put in your path…at your workplace, your family gathering, your grocery store, your gas station, your school, your church, your golf course, your rec center…remember I put them there.  I love them.  I expect you to let Me love them through you.  Be willing to face criticism, but do not assume the worst in others.  If others speak ill of you, love them and pray for them.  Give no one cause to disrespect Me, but live so that your good works and kind ways silence and discredit their criticisms.
Pray.  Pray like you have never prayed before.  Pray for your country, your leaders, and your citizens.  Pray for conviction and repentance to sweep the land.  But as you pray remember that your country is not My kingdom.  Pray for My kingdom to have dominion and rule over all, and for your country to play its part in My sovereign plan for the world.  Keep your citizenship firmly planted in My kingdom, and let My peace rule your heart.
Luke 10:41-42; Genesis 1:28; Genesis 3; Ephesians 1:18-23; John 3:16-17; Luke 10:1-10;
Matthew 23:13-15; Jude 14-15; Jude 17-25; Matthew 5:43-48; 1 Peter 3:14-17;
1 Timothy 2:1-8; Matthew 6:10, 33; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:15-17

93.  NORMAL LIVING
Teach me, Father, the difference
between my own efforts to please
You and Your Holy Spirit living His
life of obedience in me.
your life My life
The difference, My child, between your life and Mine cannot be measured.  They are as different as hope and despair, as love and hate, as life and death.  Your efforts to please Me originate from a belief that you can earn My favor and pay back a debt you owe.  You may actually think that you have something of value to offer Me…Me, your Creator.  You feel that you owe Me your best efforts after all I have done for you.
Dear one…
Do you remember how helpless you found yourself when you saw your sin and realized your need for a Savior?  You were hopeless and bankrupt.  You came to Me with nothing to offer except your willingness to turn from running your own life and receiving Mine in its place.  You surrendered yourself in response to My call to your heart.
You have no more to offer Me now than you did then.  You are just as helpless and hopeless to walk out this new life as you were to enter it on your own.
There are some telltale signs when you are trying to walk this path in your own strength.  Your efforts are accompanied by a sense of measuring and earning favor.  They are motivated often by guilt and expectations pressed on you from someone else.  They hold the snare of pride, of wanting to be seen by others as a more spiritual or committed Christian.  You compare yourself with others.  When the day is done there is often either a self-congratulatory pat on the back or nagging guilt that you could have done more.  You burn out.  There is very little peace or rest.  You are rarely filled with gratitude.
My Spirit in you produces something very different.  Even of the outward actions are very similar, they originate in Me instead of you.  The motivation comes from a sense of purpose far greater than the apparent effect of the obedience.  There is a sense of joining with Me in carrying out My work in perhaps a very small way, but it is vital and real.  Rather than feeling like you MUST do this or that, you are excited and humbled that I would include you in the work.  I will sometimes call upon you to begin to obey My voice without feeling you have the strength, but as you take that step you find My grace gives you what you need to continue on.  You do not care if anyone else knows what your obedience was or what effect it had, as long as I am pleased.  You are walking in a living connection with Me that invades the smallest and most ordinary parts of your day.  You experience great peace and rest even in the midst of struggles or confusion because you know I hold your hand.  You are profoundly grateful for everything, the things that are good and the things that do not seem so, because you know nothing can touch you outside of Me.
Life in the Spirit, united with Me, filled with My Holy Spirit, abiding in Me are descriptions of the life I have provided.  This is not some super-charged Christian experience.  It is what I provide as the normal life available to every single one of My born-again children.  This is the freedom I died and rose again to provide for you.  You need no longer labor under the Law or under a set of expectations to please Me.  You need only to trust Me to complete all that I have promised.  You are heirs of a new covenant and have inherited My promise of a new heart and life in union with Me.  Come to Me, empty of yourself and your efforts, and receive all that I have provided.  Only then will you know the abundant life I desire for you.  Come.
Galatians 2:16-5:6

94.  THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Show me Your shepherd heart, Father.
 
Help me to remember that I am a sheep, both individually,
 
and as a part of Your flock.
 
You have promised shepherds after Your own heart
 
for Your people.
 
How will we recognize them and not be led astray?
Black Hills 2008 168 (2)
Any shepherd that I call to lead My people will have My heart for the people I love.  In the past, Israel had many leaders who failed to care for the flock.  They took care of themselves rather than feeding My sheep.  They failed to build up the ones that were weak or slower than the rest.  They did not heal the sick, care for the injured, go after the strays, or look for the lost.  Instead, they bullied and badgered the sheep until they were scattered far and wide.  These were My sheep, My people, and they were left driven about by storms and easy prey for the wolves of the world.  Jesus reprimanded the temple leaders of His day because they loaded people with impossible burdens while they refused to lift a finger themselves.  They made righteous living a burden no one could bear, and kept people dependent on them for right standing with God.
This is not My will for My people. Anyone who would shepherd My people well needs to carry the responsibility with My heart of compassion and love.  There will be a desire to build up rather than tear down.  Even in correction, there is gentleness and the sense of a father restoring and calling forth the best in his child.  A good shepherd never belittles God’s people.  He may teach, warn, challenge, and exhort, but he will never set himself above them.  He will not demand respect because he sees himself as their servant and fellow traveler in this way of grace.  He knows his own  weakness and is therefore able to stand at the foot of the cross equal with the wretched, lame, blind, and lost that he serves.  He values their commitment to Christ and the unique ways He works in each life instead of seeking to produce imitations of himself or his calling.  He recognizes the struggles and celebrates the victories in the lives of My people rather than always demanding more.  He leads by example and with integrity.  He inspires instead of shames.
These are the under-shepherds who I have called to serve.  They will not be perfect, because they are not Me, but these qualities should mark their characters.  Seek them out.  Trust and learn from them.  Appreciate and respect them.  Hold them up in prayer.  Make sure they stay true to My word; disregard any teaching that does not line up with the full revelation of My truth.
Finally, rest in Me as your perfect Shepherd.  There is great benefit in the encouragement and strength of joining together under good leadership in this journey, and that is My intent for the Church.  But it is only in Me, the Great Shepherd of your soul, that you will find the home and peace your heart desires.
Ezekiel 34; Matthew 23; Jeremiah 3:15; John 10; Hebrews 13:7-8; Hebrews 13:20-21

95.  MORE THAN ONE THING IS TRUE
I’m struggling, Lord, to understand
what You say about healing.
Some passages seem to say that we should expect healing
and health as part of Your provision.
Other passages indicate that suffering, hardship,
even illness may be brought, or at least allowed by You,
and if we are not healed, we should accept and
receive that from Your hand with
thanksgiving.
How can we fit these truths together
so that we are not tossed back and forth with
no sure footing from which to pray?
shells
More than one thing is true, My child.  There is much truth that must be held in balance and tension with a seemingly contradictory truth.  I have provided for your entire redemption, spirit, soul, and body.  You understand that you are presently seated in heavenly places with Me, even though your address is a physical location on a fallen earth.  You accept that paradox by faith and with full confidence that the day will come when there is no longer the discord, but only the fulfillment.  You believe with all your heart that you are a vessel and filled with My Holy Spirit who can live My life through you, yet you are very aware of your own sin nature and tendencies that wage war against My life and create havoc where I would rule in peace.  You look forward to the day when this conflict is no more and you are completely free of all that I free you from.  Again, more than one thing is true.
In the same way, I have provided healing, life, and wholeness for your body.  You are (present tense) healed by My stripes.  That is the truth.  Also, the outer body is decaying, weakening, aging, and can be prone to ailments.  Even as that happens, the spirit and soul are being renewed day by day.  Any affliction is light and temporary compared with the weighty and eternal glory it produces, and that is where you must focus, seeing the eternal rather than the immediate.   I have provided far more than this earthly body, and only when it surrenders in death will the complete fulfillment of My promises be realized beyond all you can imagine.
Nothing can disqualify you from My care.  Receive medical help and relief where I lead, trusting My Spirit to provide all that you need for your body, and recognizing help as a gift from Me.
Will I heal your body in this life?  That is not the question.  I heal you every day because My mercies are new every morning.  Every moment I provide everything you need for spirit, soul, and body.  Renewal is a constant flow of My life and provision.  Even if you must deal with the realities of weakness every day for the rest of your life, I want your eyes fixed on My provision, so that you can walk in your eternal reality over your present condition.  You are to walk by faith, not by sight.  That is true healing in this life.  Always rejoicing, always giving thanks, always trusting, always confident that I hear your prayers and I renew your strength day by day.
Never stop asking, seeking, and knocking for what you need.  Pray with perseverance, knowing that I hear you and love you.  You will receive, you will find, and the door will open as you seek Me, for Myself.  The more you pray, the better you understand your own needs and find that only I can meet them.  Prayer is not an opportunity for you to make demands, rather it is an avenue that leads you into the infinite depth of My heart and will.  The better you come to know Me in prayer, the more your prayers align with My will.  You will find no contradiction in asking (as My Son did) for a specific outcome and at the same time praying, “Thy will be done.”  Expectation and acceptance do not exclude each other, but are both necessary elements of a great faith that accomplishes much.  More than one thing is true.
Continue to pray for the healing of others with great confidence that I hear and answer your prayers, not because you see it in your body, but because you know who I AM.  I have called you to this ministry, and I will be faithful to carry it out.  It is in these paradoxes of faith that you learn how to hear My heart for each situation and learn how to apply My word.  I love it when you listen to Me.
1 Thessalonians 5:23; Ephesians 2:4-7; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Romans 7:22-8:6; Isaiah 53:5;
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9; Romans 8:10-15; Lamentations 3:19-25;
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18; Matthew 26:39; James 5:13-16; Jeremiah 33:3

96.  FACING ADVERSITY
It’s hard sometimes to not be fearful
when we wonder what the future holds.
How will we face the trials that may come?
We have been used to comfort and ease,
and we do not easily let that go.
There are many possible pitfalls,
and it’s easy to go into self-protection mode.
What should be our response to uncertainty?
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Do not fear adversity.  I told you that you would encounter trouble in this life.  While you should be sober and alert to what is going on around you, you should not be fearful.  No trial that you face has eluded My grasp.  No matter what its source, by the time it reaches you, I have made it a servant to My will and can use it for good.
Whatever the scope of the difficulty. whether global or very private, My hand holds the reins and directs the course.  It may seem that everything is out of control, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I do not disregard your helplessness.  In fact, I want you to embrace it, to know for certain that you cannot meet the challenge before you.  But instead of despairing, I want you to bring your weakness and terror to Me.  Ask Me to deliver, to help, to bring good out of a seemingly hopeless situation.  Ask Me to steady your heart and mind.  Ask Me to be your peace.  I do not demean you for being human.
Be prepared to suffer hardship and endure to the end, knowing that My Holy Spirit lives in you and will guard your heart and mind in order to present you complete when I return.  I have not left you alone.  I have already overcome whatever you may face.
050
Only in trusting Me will you be able to stand.  I am your only hope.  Whatever the outcome of the trial before you, I am holding you in My hand and will not leave you alone.  True faith grows in adversity.  It may stagger for a moment, but it is purified and refined over time to reflect My glory and My face.
In the meantime, freely share yourself with the world dying around you.  Share life, share love, teach with gentleness and respect, always ready to tell someone about My love for them.  Do not demand your rights; simply love them as I would.  If they reject you, it is because they are rejecting Me.  Shake the dust from your feet and use the next opportunity to share.  Acceptance is not the measure of the value of your life or work.  I am the One who knows value and tests motives.
006
Do not work according to the pattern that others may try to dictate, but listen to Me.  I have things planned for you to accomplish, and you will only find them if you follow My voice.  So live with eyes wide open, aware, confident of My care, joyful in My presence, patient with those held captive by Satan, praying in all things with a grateful heart and a fearless hope.  Let My peace rule your heart.
John 16:33; John 14:27; 1 Peter 5:8; Romans 8:28; Isaiah 54:17; 2 Kings 19:14-19;
Philippians 4:6-7; 2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Jude v 24; 2 Corinthians 3:18;
2 Timothy 3:24-26; Luke 10:16; Colossians 3:3-4; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 4:2;
Philippians 1:6; Romans 15:13; Colossians 3:15

97.  BROKEN HEARTS
It breaks my heart, Lord, to see and hear all
the anger and hatred from all sides these days.
The world ridicules and demeans Christians.
So-called Christians mock and vilify everyone outside their circle.
Truth is, we’re all guilty and have a sin nature at our core.
At the same time, most are decent and doing the best they can.
But people of every persuasion seem intent on seeing only
the worst in those who view life from a different perspective.
When did we lose our humanity and our willingness
to give someone the benefit of the doubt?
Have we lost the ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes?
How do we regain Your heart and love for people,
for those who live differently,
for those who have wronged us,
for those who live differently,
for those who have wronged us,
for those who have different priorities?
We need Your eyes and Your heart.
I need Your eyes and Your heart.
images
It breaks My heart, too, My child.  But I am not surprised.  None of this is new, even if it seems escalated to you.  It broke My heart enough that I sent My Son to pay the price for sin that runs so deep that there is no other solution.  Your broken heart is My gift to you.  Broken hearts are the ground in which I sow My life, My love, and My kingdom.  These are the hearts that will pray with Me as I intercede for My people before My Father. Remain tender to the conditions you are made aware of, and pray for My life to be manifested in those places.
Pride, selfishness, and self-defense are at the heart of the human condition.  Even a born-again, redeemed soul falls easily into those old patterns.  The effect can be especially harmful when accompanied by religious conviction.  There is a harsh, unyielding expectation that only those who share the same particular conviction can possibly have good intentions.
That harshness causes people to recoil from everything associated with it.  As a result, truth is mocked and ridiculed as intolerant and rigid even when a good heart shares it in love.
It is a vicious circle with no solution to be found in human strategies or cleverness.  As My child, you are a vessel of My Spirit.  My Spirit will guide you into all truth and equip you with the courage to speak in truth and love.  As My children, you are members of each other and must help one another live with integrity.  You should challenge each other to love the world as I do.
Those who do not belong to Me will not understand that love and sacrifice, nor will they respond in kind.  Do not expect them to.  Love them anyway.  I do.
I will put everything right in My time and My way.  Do not fear being ridiculed or taken advantage of.  That is how I was treated, and you are not better than I.  Do not become bitter, but love and pray for those who mistreat you.  That is how you prove to be Mine.  That is the fruit of a broken heart.
John 3:16-21; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 John 2:9-11; John 14:26; Ephesians 4:14-16;
Ephesians 4:29-32; Matthew 5:44-48

98.  CHOOSING AGAIN
Your true self
Lord, I don’t respond like You do.
I get frustrated.
I get hurt.
I compare.
I lay blame.
I get annoyed.
I give up.
I worry.
I criticize.
These are often my first reactions.
What’s worse, it’s not just situations
I’m responding to, but people.
When will Your life and love supersede mine?
How will I learn to let Your love work through me?
My child, even though your old nature was crucified with Me, your human soul remains. Your flesh, your human soul, will always want to rise up and defend itself.  That is part of being a member of Adam’s race.  The response may vary widely from anger to cowering in fear, but it is always based on self-preservation or self-interest.  History confirms that humanity can justify horrendous acts when they serve its own advancement.  That sinfulness is the source of mankind’s most basic attitudes and responses.  The human soul apart from Me serves only itself, even when dressed in its finest and most acceptable covering.
You have given Me your heart and life, and as Holy Spirit I live within you.  Therefore, you have a choice.  My word instructs you to “lay aside” the old life and “put on” the new.  You are to “walk” and “live” according to My Spirit.  Let all wrong attitudes “be put away” from you:  “put them aside”.  Then “put on” the new life, the new nature that I give.  These things do not happen automatically; they are choices, choices you must make with each person or experience you encounter.
You know what the new nature looks like.  It is patient, it is kind, it tells the truth in love, it forgives, it puts others first and wishes them only the best, it is gentle, it is humble, it is pure, it is thankful, it is steadfast.  In short, it is impossible in your own strength.
I do not leave you to carry out the right choice by your own strength or willpower.  I fill and empower you by My grace and Spirit to walk forward as you choose My provision.  But you must first make the choice whether you will live simply by your humanity, trying to do your best, or by the new nature you have received from Me.
The truest thing about you is My life in you.  Your feelings will lie to you, demand to be heard, and will claim to be the true representation of who you are, but that is a lie.  Your true self is hidden in Me, and I am your true Life.  Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.
My power and righteousness will keep you and enable you far beyond what you ask or think, even in your daily challenges.  In this life you will always have to choose, but the day is coming when our union will be perfect and you will share in My glory.  Live this day abiding and dwelling in Me as if you have arrived at that day.
Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:1-5; Colossians 3:5-17; Galatians 5:22-26;
1 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:3-4; John 15:4-5; Colossians 3:1-4;
Ephesians 3:20-21