Enjoying Life with Jesus
Jesus doesn’t want to shut down your party. He wants to invite you to His. When was the last time you had a drink with Jesus? He’s promised each of us, “Let the one who believes in Me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38, NET) Even in the final verses of the Bible, God calls us to drink in His abundant life, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let each one who hears them say, ‘Come.’ Let the thirsty ones come—anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.” (Revelation 22:17) We all need to be filled with God’s Spirit. Ask Him to fill you. Only Jesus can quench the thirst He created in you.
Doctor On a Cruise Ship
A doctor was on a cruise with his family. Early one morning, while walking the deck of the ship, he saw a crowd gathered. He was told a passenger had been rescued after falling overboard and was being resuscitated. The doctor thought about lending a hand, but decided to stay in vacation mode. But as he passed by, he glanced over and saw that it was his own son who was fighting for his life. Frantically, he pushed his way through the crowd. A father’s interest had risen to match the need. I am so grateful for those, with father hearts, who came to my aid. Having once been a suicidal atheist, the love and prayers of others aided in my rescue. Someone is praying for you today. You will not drown.
Disappointments and Destiny
When a young married couple failed a medical exam, their dream of going to a foreign nation as missionaries was crushed. Heartbroken, they returned home and asked God for understanding. After much prayer, they resolved that if they couldn’t go overseas themselves, they would make as much money as possible in America to help spread the gospel around the world. With missionary hearts, the couple took over a small side business from the husband’s father, making unfermented wine for communion services, turning it into a tremendous success.During their lifetime they gave vast sums of money to mission fields around the world. Their last name . . . was Welch, of Welch’s Grape Juice. What response to a great disappointment will set you on the path of God’s choosing? Expect the unexpected!
Paralyzed By Fear
Many Christians, leaders included, are paralyzed by fear of failure. They’d rather debate and analyze than begin to do something—anything. It can be overwhelming to look at all of the failures in our lives. But as Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, once said, “I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God. First it is impossible. Then it is difficult. Then it is done. ”In my own life, I’ve been amazed over the years, as I’ve seen how faithful God has been to bring calm to chaos, and understanding to the devastations of my past. Our Heavenly Father wants our lives to be fulfilled more than we do, but only He knows what true fulfillment looks like. Trust Him!
Lost at Sea
Do you see God at work in your life? A fishing fleet was caught in a terrible storm. When night came, none of the ships returned home. All families of those missing prayed God would bring them back safely. Things seemed to get worse when, that night, one of the homes in the village caught fire and burned to the ground. But in the morning all of the ships sailed back into the harbor. Everyone rejoiced when they saw their men safely home—except the woman whose home had burned down. Seeing her husband she cried out, “We’re ruined! Our home and everything we had was destroyed by the fire.” Her husband responded. “Thank God for the fire! It was the light of our burning home that guided us. ”Perhaps the tragedy you’re feeling right now is the fire God will use to guide you to Himself.
Chippewa Indian Saying
Have you been feeling sorry for yourself lately? I’m reminded of an old Chippewa Indian saying that my twin brother Joseph once told me that greatly inspired him: “Sometimes I go about feeling sorry for myself, and all the time I’m being carried by great winds across the sky.” Many times, our perspective is skewed. We fail to remember that it’s been the grace of God carrying us through each of life’s tragedies. We fail to see the hand of a gracious God. Our fixation on self, limits our awareness of all God is doing behind the scenes in each of our lives. None of us have been short-changed. We are each blessed beyondmeasure. “Jesus, open my eyes to see how You are carrying me . . . even now!”
Looking Back Through Healing Eyes
Whether we like it or not, we each need to look back long enough and deep enough into our past to allow God to heal us. If we refuse, then the abused will become the abuser, and the neglected will become the neglecter. I work with people every day whose childhoods were so painful from abuse and neglect they’ve spent years blocking it out. But we still must look back through the healing eyes of a Creator who was with us during every horrific moment. Only He can heal the years of turmoil and brokenness. He will transform our tortured memories into bridges of healing and hope; not just for ourselves, but also for those He will send our way. And the best news is: this is His will for you.
Past Hurts Hide Hidden Worth
Past hurts often keep us from seeing our hidden worth. Our true value isn’t found in the high points of our life, but rather hidden under the rubble of our greatest pain. Only time, heat, and pressure can produce the most beautiful diamond. So too, the Master Surgeon promises to
make all things new, while letting old things pass away. “…if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Though our struggles will at times seem pointless, the fruit of seeing life from God’s perspective will last forever. Heaven will not miss even an ounce of our true value. If we allow God to heal our hearts, the character produced in us will far outweigh the pain suffered.
Character Comes From Receiving God’s Love
If you hear nothing else today, hear this: character only comes fromreceiving the love of God. All attempts to change without first knowing how much God loves you will consign you to a life based on performance—what you can do—and not accepting what He’s already done on your behalf. Without knowing God’s love, our lives eventually become a lie, devoid of the fulfillment found only in knowing our Creator. If we reject God’s infinite love, we will try in vain to remake ourselves into the image of this fallen world; realizing only too late it was all for nothing. “This is real love…not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent HisSon as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1John 4:10)
Swapping Soldiers For Diamonds
A young boy in South Africa once swapped a costly diamond for a few toy soldiers because he was ignorant of what he had. Satan, the enemy of our soul, trifled away his own value, and now attempts to devalue as many other eternal beings as possible. Once known as Lucifer, the anointed worship leader of Heaven traded the priceless for the meaningless, when the love of God was all he would ever need. In the beginning, charisma might get you going, but it’ll take character to keep you going. The real limitations in our lives are only in us and in ourcharacter, never in the heart of a loving God. He will gladly fulfill our heart’s desire once we fully embrace what’s on His heart for us.
Georgia Tech’s Football Team
Years ago, Georgia Tech’s football team was leading, seven points to six, near the end of a game. Though his coach told him NOT to pass the ball, when Georgia Tech was within ten yards of scoring, their quarterback threw a pass that was intercepted by the fastest runner on the opposing team. It seemed nothing could stop him from scoring a touchdown. But, from out of nowhere the quarterback who had thrown the interception tackled him. After the game, the losing coach said, “I’ll never understand how your boy over took my fastest back.” The winning coach responded, “Well, I’ll tell you. Your back was running fora touchdown. My boy was running for his life. ”Never forget, when it comes to eternity, it’s not a game. You and I are running for our lives.
Three things are eternal: faith, hope and love. An empty heart leads to hopelessness. But only God, and those who trusting Him, have an eternal hope. The rest of the planet will scavenge for hope until at last they realize God owns the rights to all of the hope that’s ever existed. It is however being freely offered, but on God’s terms. I was empty-hearted, completely hopeless, and even suicidal, without God. For a season I was half-hearted due to a lapse of relationship with God, and thankfully, now for many years, whole-hearted. Only now do I have an eternal hope bubbling up from the well of God’s living water. Draw close to this well and open your heart. There’s plenty of hope for everyone.
Increasing Your Value
Avoiding pressure will only decrease your value. It’s the difference between coal and diamonds. Did you know that every diamond starts out as coal? And the world’s loaded with coal! But diamonds are rare. We can become God’s priceless diamonds when we respond properly to the pressures of life. But if we refuse, and give in to discouragement and fear, we’ll remain “just coal”. Yesterday’s tests prepare us for the greater trials of tomorrow. They help make us the person we’ve always wanted to be. When it seems nothing’s working out; when it appears your hopes and dreams are going up in flames, will you still trust the God who promises togive you a future and a hope? Will you allow Him to make you His treasure?
One Final Surge
Do you feel like you’re losing the battle for life? Civil War General Stonewall Jackson once said that in battle both sides,at one point, feel defeated. But the one who rises for a final surge wins theday. Such is true in war and even the Christian life. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego prepared their hearts for one final surgeof trusting God. They fearlessly told King Nebuchadnezzar that even if God didn’t deliver them, they weren’t going to worship him. “Put that in your fiery furnace!”Don’t ever say, “But God would never deliver me like that.” If it’s in the Book, one way or another, if it’s in the script, it’s on the schedule. King David trusted God and wrote, “This I know God is for me.”
Dead religion drove me to atheism! By the time I was 15 years old I hated God. It wasn’t His fault, but I blamedhim for the hypocrisy I saw in those who claimed to know Him. I was so angry, I spent the next 7 years as an adamant, in your face, atheist. In the years to come, I was responsible for two abortions, got lost in drugs,Eastern Religions, and wound up being suicidal for six months. One day, when I was invited to church, I prayed, ‘Jesus, I don’t know if You are Who that man says You are, but if You are–do for me what You did for Him.’ From that magnificent day, He set me free and made me alive. He heals my heart, and renews my mind. Let Him do the same for you.
”To Be Changed,” signed Jesus
How do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? God the Father, Creator of the Universe, wants to spend eternity with you! When I was in my early 20’s I prayed and invited Jesus to become #1 in my life. He came in and put a tag on each area of my life saying, ‘To be changed!’ signed ‘Jesus’. As I’ve surrendered to His Spirit, He’s done a transforming work in every part of my life. Today, you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus. In your own words, pray and invite Him to come and live inside of your spirit. Pick up a Bible and begin reading the Gospel of Mark. If you’re sincere, and allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life, He’ll set you free.
“Amazing Grace” Author
The captain of a slave ship, responsible for 20,000 deaths, asked God to forgive him. He then wrote these words to Amazing Grace: ‘I once was lost, but now I’m found.’ All of us have messed up. We’ve all come far short of God’s best. Though a perfect God always knew my sins would separate me from Him, He had a plan: Jesus, God’s Son came to Earth to live a sinless life, and then died taking the punishment for each of my sins. I owed a debt I couldn’t pay. Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe. I’m eternally grateful. Since allowing Him to be the Lord and God of my life, He’s continued to heal and transform every part of me. If you let Him, He’ll do the same for you.
Faith Beyond Feelings
What do you do when God feels far away? When I first received Jesus, I was so elated I thought I’d never come down.But within a month, the feelings began to fade. God knew I needed to sense His presence in a significant way. But that wasn’t His end goal. When the feelings subsided, He wanted me todevelop spiritual muscles . . . to learn to walk by faith and trust Him. If we put our FAITH in the TRUTH of God’s Word, then FEELINGS will come… and they will go. But we can never let FEELINGS lead us. As I’ve grown in my relationship with Jesus, I’ve learned to trust Him, evenwhen I feel nothing. God’s never failed me. Learn to trust Him no matterhow you feel.
Strengthening Your Spiritual Life
How do you strengthen your relationship with Jesus? God is a Spirit. In order for us to get to know Him, our “eternal” SPIRITUAL life has to become stronger than our “temporary” NATURAL life. The real question is, ‘How do I strengthen my spiritual life?’ Here five ways:
- Study God’s Word, the Bible.
- Open up your heart to God in worship and prayer.
- Develop friendships with people who have a strong relationship with Jesus.
- Find a good local church where Jesus is worshipped and the Bible’s preached.
- Tell others about what Jesus has done in your life.
If you cultivate your relationship with Jesus, it will grow. Don’t get distracted by what you see . . . the TEMPORARY. Be transformed by what you believe . . . the ETERNAL.
Changing My Desires Into God’s Desires
How do you know your relationship with Jesus is real? I know I’m a fully surrendered Christian when my desires have changed into God’s desires. If I haven’t had a DRAMATIC change of heart, I must accept the obvious: I need to be born again. Jesus said, “…a tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) If I’ve been born again in the past, but my life demonstrates little fruit, then the ball is still in my court. Apparently, I need to be born again . . . again. More and more people are claiming to be born again but fewer are living differently. When I’m in charge, all I’m able to become is religious—going through the motions of performing for God, but not knowing Him. Only when Jesus isLord of my life, can I yield good fruit.