Love Transforms

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.

Ezek. 36:26

James Hilton’s entertaining novel, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips, tells the story of a shy, clumsy schoolteacher to whom something wonderful happens. He meets and marries a woman who loves him. And gradually the inept schoolteacher becomes a kind, friendly, gracious man, the most beloved teacher in the school.

Human love can do wonderful things. But God’s love can change character. I believe it because I have personally experienced God’s love creating in me what I was incapable of making happen on my own. Conversions are a real event. And habits really can be broken-not by willpower, but by grace.

When the little abandoned child in so many of us truly grasps the fact that God, through Jesus Christ, is committed to love us forever, it is an incredibly awesome moment. That truth illuminates the darkness in our souls. It resurrects in us the legitimate needs that we have denied or let die, and it fills our empty spaces  with an unconditional validation and acceptance. As a result of being filled in our empty places, we no longer want substitutes; we want the real thing-love. And God’s love  transforms us at our deepest level. The story of Mr. Chips is repeated over and over again, thanks to God and His people.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for your transforming love.


When Dams Break

Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.

Psalms 39:4

The dam broke. And in ten minutes it was all over. Their house was filled with water to within three inches of the ceiling. They weren’t there, but they stared in shock at the devastation a few days later as they sought in vain to retrieve their belongings. They had lost everything-or had they?

Human lives are frail. Dams break. Children develop incurable diseases. Husbands of forty years walk out. Houses burn. How do you go on? Only by depending on God and relying on heavenly perspectives instead earthly positions or possessions.

I like to think of God up in the sky overlooking the whole earth. When things happen which seem so devastating, God is looking down. He sees the end from the beginning. He knows how everything is going to turn out.

When dams break in your life, look up to God, realizing He sees the whole picture. Say to Him, “God, I don’t understand why this happened. I know you’re in Heaven and  you understand the things I’ll never understand while I’m here on earth. Help me to put my hand in yours and know that you are my security when  there seems to be none on earth.”

Thought:  A heavenly perspective today will help me have peace of mind on earth today, in spite of tragedy, and through all my tomorrows.

Living With Our Problems

When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me-until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.

Psalms 73:16-17

Have you ever been overjoyed at the prospect of working through a problem and growing from it? Or do you tend to be like me, overwhelmed by the problem and oblivious to the fact that God can help solve it? Expecting a life without problems will leave us continually bitter and disappointed. Earthly existence means earthly problems-hopefully  with breathing spells in between.

Our job is to eliminate, through healthy choices, as many problems as possible. How? One way is to ask, as problems come into our lives, “What was my part in letting this problem happen?” We can confess the answers to God and then learn from them the next time we encounter a similar circumstance. We can confront the problem and do everything we can to solve it.

We can also claim God’s promises. God didn’t say our lives would be easy, but He did say that He would be with us through all of life’s storms.

Remember the story of the shipwreck in Acts 27? The ship didn’t make it, but the passengers made it safely to shore. Sometimes, in our lives, our “ships” will also be wrecked, but God will guide us safely to the shores of solutions, growth, meaning, and eventually heaven itself.

Thought:  God’s hand is stretched out for me to hold onto. I will take it today.

Fruitful Marriage

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galations 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit is…love. Can I see beyond myself, my needs, and my feelings in our relationship?”…joy.”Are there times of laughter, lightness, and fun?

“…peace.” Is there a quietness and honesty in my own soul? Is there the security that even in the midst of conflict we are on each other’s team?

“…longsuffering.” Am I open to hearing my partner’s point of view? Can I accept our differences without being threatened?

“…kindness.” Do I direct kind words and actions toward my partner and hold him in high regard both publicly and privately?

“…goodness.” Am I attempting to be God’s love connection to my partner?

“…faithfulness.” Am I committed to this relationship? Do I avoid all appearance of evil?

“…gentleness.” Do I treat him with respect? Am I a good listener and an affectionate, sensitive lover?

“…self-control.” Am I honest with myself and my mate? Am I taking responsibility for what is mine in this relationship?

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the gift of your unconditional acceptance and love even while I am in the process.

The Gift Of Friendship

Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:9

“Nope, that doesn’t work either!”

My husband crumpled up the page and threw it across the room. Then we both slumped in our chairs, exhausted and discouraged. Our manuscript was due in three days, and the ideas just wouldn’t come. We were definitely experiencing writer’s block.

The doorbell rang. We were expecting no one. There at the door were two of our dear friends. They were beaming and holding a bag. “Hi,” they said, “we thought you might be stuck. We brought you some ice cream bars. Why don’t we all sit down and brainstorm?”

We could hardly believe what we were hearing. What a gift! For the next two hours the four of us sat and talked together about the thesis of the book. They prayed with us, bid us good-bye, and left. We went to bed.

The next morning we sat down to write, and the ideas just flew. By the evening of that same day, the manuscript was ready. Our hearts had delighted in  the counsel of our friends.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the gift of friendship. Let me be the one who brings delight to my friend’s heart today.

The Biggest Lie

I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Eccl. 1:14

We are daily confronted with lies. Unless we can learn to identify the lies of the world, we will be continually unhappy and dissatisfied. And one of the biggest lies is, “You can have it all, and having it all will make you happy.”

He was president of his state professional association. He had four brilliant and athletic children, a gracious and beautiful wife, and was worth well over five million dollars. And yet he was one of the most unhappy people I have ever met. Having reached every goal he had set out for himself, he was now trying to convince that a bigger house, a younger wife, or another million might make him happy. He was rapidly reaching a point in life where he had to face the truth that even if you had it all, you don’t. If  he didn’t change his focus, he would end up saying, like King Solomon long ago, “All is vanity.”

If we define happiness by the world’s standards, we will continually be disappointed. Happiness comes from knowing and following God, not from power, prestige, and material possessions. And that means that’s God’s kind of happiness can come to anyone, from the lowliest worker to a king.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to want the happiness that comes from knowing you, not the emptiness of “grasping for the wind.”

It’s Not My Fault

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.

Proverbs 20:27

“It’s not my fault!” she insisted. The fifty-year-old mother tried to explain to authorities why she had embezzled one million, two hundred  thousand dollars from her employer. She said she hadn’t been a good mother and she wanted to make it to her twenty-three- year-old daughter. Her way of “making it up” landed her in jail for a five-year prison term.

“It’s not my fault!” she said. The twenty-three-year-old daughter had gladly taken and spent one million, two hundred thousand dollars on a condo and luxury  automobiles. When the police asked her where she thought her mother got the money, she said she never asked. She is now in jail for two years.

Granted, this is an extreme example of “It’s not my fault.” But it’s a true story, extreme only in the amount of money it involves. Each day as I sit in my office I am amazed at the stories I hear that end with, “It’s not my fault.”

I challenge you to look in your life today. Is there a responsibility you’re trying to avoid with “It’s not my fault”? Maybe today’s the day to take that responsibility back.

Prayer:  Lord, please give me the insight today to accept responsibility for my own feelings and actions while giving away responsibility for the feelings and actions of others.

Family Connections

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.

Psalms 50:15

Two little girls were playing on the banks of the Mississippi River and watching the stately, white paddle wheelers make their way lazily up the river. Suddenly one of the little girls turned to the other one and said,”I can make that steamer come right over here to where I am.” The other  little girl looked at her in disbelief. “You can’t do that, you don’t have that much power.” “Oh yes I do,” was the first girl’s reply. With that she ran to the nearest dock and started waving her hands over her head. And amazingly, after a few minutes, one of the big boats turned from its course and headed toward the dock.

One little girl couldn’t believe it. The other one just beamed. Finally the huge steamer was close to the dock. The weathered captain leaned over the railing and said, “Hi honey. How’s my daughter? What I can I do for you?”

Family connection means everything. Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior are part of God’s family. God’s resources become ours. When we call on Him, we can be sure that He hears and will answer us. He is a faithful, loving Father.

Prayer:  Thank you, Jesus, that I am a part of your family. Thank you that you are my deliverer in the day of trouble.

God Is Still There

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalms 18:6

A friend of mine had a muscle in her back that was hurting. She asked her ten-year-old daughter to pray for her, but Mary shook her head “no.” My friend asked, Why not? God answers prayers. But Mary, with tears in her eyes, said, “No, He doesn’t. I’ve been praying every night for my daddy to come home, and he hasn’t come home.”

Mary can’t understand why her daddy left. Her mother doesn’t understand either. Her husband studied his Bible daily, taught Sunday school, and coached the girls’ sports teams. Then one day, he said, “I want a divorce, I never loved you.” Now she is left to raise two little girls whose faith in God has been severely shaken. And her faith is being tested too.

God gives us free choices in life, and people frequently make the wrong ones. Sadly, other people frequently make the wrong ones. Sadly, other people often must live with the results of those choices. But God is still there! My friend is facing her problems one at a time. She’s crying, but she’s also working valiantly to rebuild their lives. And she’s depending on God who has promised to hear us when we call upon Him in distress.

Thought:  I can’t manipulate God to force those around me to do what is right. But I can face my future with a renewed confidence in a God who cares for me and loves me.

Dwelling In God’s Place

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalms 91: 1-2

Trusting in Christ fills the God vacuum that we all have. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, and we are privileged to begin to know and understand the mind of God. This secret place should be our dwelling place, not merely a place to “stop over” when life gets rough. Let’s not think of a short meeting with Christ when we’re in desperate situations. Instead, let’s resolve to stay in His Word and in His dwelling all the time. As we pray and talk with God daily, we will grow comfortable in His presence. We will learn to look at life through His truth instead of our own. As we dwell in His place, we will eventually be delivered from the sinful behaviors that have plagued us for so long.

When the strong winds blow in our life, we can rest assured that God is our refuge and our fortress. Let us join the psalmist in putting our trust in God. He won’t let us down.

Thought:  I resolve today to find God’s secret place to dwell in-an intimate, moment-by-moment relationship with Him.