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Monday
Jan232017

A Heart with Room for Him

A long time ago, my mother purchased a portrait of Jesus walking on water. That image has always captivated me. His serene countenance contrasts dramatically with the tempest around Him. It’s an image of the God-man making the supernatural look natural. It’s a portrait of a life that was marked by love, signs, and wonders, a life that brought heaven to earth.

In the Old Testament, after King Nebuchadnezzar came to his senses, he gave praise to God, saying, “I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. [3] How great are His signs, And how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And His dominion is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:2-3, New King James Version). King Nebuchadnezzar personally experienced God’s signs
and wonders.

By contrast, in the New Testament, when a group of scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of the day) asked Jesus to perform a sign, His answer was an emphatic NO! Why would Jesus answer them this way? Why would He deny anyone a manifestation of His power? Yet we find here that He not only refused to grant their petition, but He also rebuked them, saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matt. 12:39, New International Version).

They asked for a sign but were instead given a wake-up call, alerting them to the wickedness of their own hearts. It’s not our backgrounds or circumstances that bring us close to God; it’s the condition of our hearts. Jesus accused them of being wicked and unfaithful because, in reality, they were not seeking Him with all of their hearts. A wicked heart stands in the way of God’s
mighty wonders.

You and I can think that this doesn’t apply to us. We’re the righteousness of God in Christ, right? However, Andrew’s How to Prepare Your Heart teaching puts things in a different perspective. Andrew says, “A person [who] doesn’t have God in all of their thoughts is a very proud person, a very self-centered person.” It’s the kind of person who is too busy for God. Andrew references the NIV, which says, In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Ps. 10:4). It implies that this person is too busy with everything else, to the point that there is no room in their life for God. This describes a self-centered person. Andrew goes on to say, “You can’t have two people on the throne of your life. You cannot be sitting on the throne of your life and have God on the throne of your life at the same time.”

Maybe we can’t relate to the word wicked, but in our modern societies, we all can relate to the idea of self-centeredness. Being absorbed with our own agendas can numb us to the point of being unfaithful to God because we’re not giving Him first place in our lives. The result is, we can’t see Him because our hearts are blind. We could be asking Jesus for a sign while not giving our hearts to Him, and then wonder why we don’t receive.

If you have allowed something to take the place of God in your life, you can change that right now. Andrew says the key is humility, and this teaching will show you how to make room in your heart and give God the place that belongs only to Him. Take time to prepare your heart. Preparation time is never wasted time!

For more on this teaching, watch the Gospel Truth television program. How to Prepare Your Heart is airing right now. Or you can order the teaching from our online store or through the
Helpline: 719-635-1111.

Please comment below if you’d like to add to the discussion. We love hearing from you!

Thursday
Jan192017

So They Could Choose

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven

I had just had my second child during the Christmas season, and this particular song by Christian artist Amy Grant spoke to me. In it, she sings from the perspective of Mary on her way to Bethlehem shortly before giving birth to Jesus. She sings of her trip and the growing. But then she says, “And I wonder what I’ve done.” Although this is just a songwriter’s interpretation, this line made me wonder: Why would Mary question what she had done?

Mary had done nothing wrong. She didn’t ask for this. In fact, the only thing she did do was receive the Word of God, which was the right thing to do.

Although I was not carrying the Son of God, I realized that most expectant mothers must go through this, even Mary. Whether it’s her first or her tenth pregnancy, a woman is filled with uncertainty. But, personally, having a baby taught me so much about the love of God.

First, I learned how to give my cares to Him. The day I received that first hospital bill, I panicked. I had never seen a one-time charge of that size. Based on 1 Peter 5:7, it was the first of many lessons that God taught me about worry: “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” ( New King James Version). I physically knelt at my couch, held up the bill, and gave my cares over to Him.

Secondly, I learned how to love naturally. Romans 5:5 explains that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” Love comes from who we are because of Jesus and not from what we do. I didn’t have to try to love my child. I loved my child because I was her mother. It’s who God made me and empowered me to be.

Third, I learned to let go and rest in Him. I read all the books and pamphlets recommended to me. I had my doctor visits and ultrasounds. I took my vitamins. But bad things can happen, and it’s easy to get scared. When a blood test came back with some questionable numbers, the nurse’s words were frightful. But I know my God and His peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). I knew everything would be okay. And it was.

Finally, I learned how to be led by the Holy Spirit in raising my children. Jesus promises that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26, NKJV). In raising kids, we’re not going to do everything perfectly. We will make mistakes. But the Lord gives us such sweet assurance that He will be there, every step of the way, helping us.

When I hear the arguments in favor of a “woman’s right to choose,” I am both sympathetic and saddened. I have extreme sympathy for the woman or young girl who finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy. Two out of three of my own were actually unplanned.

But how could I have justified ending one of my children’s lives? Who would I have chosen? None of the labors were pleasant. All of my children cost money. Yet, it was never my right to choose whether any of them lived or died. And now, all in their twenties, they may even say their lives have just begun.

I have learned so much from having my children. I’m so glad I left the choice of living up to them. I chose life, so they could do the same.

This week on the Gospel Truth broadcast, you can watch teaching that will encourage you in choosing life. If you would like to share your own experiences, please comment below. Please keep in mind the sensitive nature of this subject and be respectful.

Monday
Jan162017

The Ultimate Measure

“The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood.”1

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered for leading the Civil Rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his assassination on April 4, 1968. He was an advocate for African Americans, women, and veterans. What is even more honorable about him is that he protested peacefully during socially and politically hostile times. In love and strength, he transformed American culture and politics.

In a lot of ways, today’s cultural climate is not much different from what it was then. One thing I admire the most about Dr. King was how he fought for freedom and equality peacefully and in love, without wavering in his message. With tensions of all kinds stirring today, it’s more important than ever for us to walk in that same strength. But the only way to walk in God’s kind of love is to surrender to the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16, English Standard Version

God doesn’t see the color of our skin. He sees the state of our hearts. If we’ve given our hearts to Him, all He sees when He looks at us is Jesus. That’s our unifying factor in Christ. Galatians 3:28 (Amplified Bible) reads:

There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].

Dr. King championed equality, and in doing so, he left a legacy for unity and a vision for a better future. We as the body of Christ have a similar vision. So, how can we carry that out today? The answer is simple, although it maybe not always be easy.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, you shall choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (emphasis mine, AMP)

Choose life in your words. Choose life in your treatment of people. Choose life in your thoughts. And choose life even in your feelings. As you walk in the Spirit and not your flesh, the power of God will empower you to live like He did, laying down your life for others while not compromising the
truth (Luke 6:28).

Character is tested in times when walking in love and forgiveness is not the easiest path to take. But as sons and daughters of God, we must guard our hearts against our love growing cold and bitterness taking root. Otherwise, our effectiveness as Christians will be compromised (which is exactly what the Enemy would want). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this struggle and described it this way:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge
and controversy.”2

So, what is the “ultimate measure” of your character going to be? You get
to decide.

Please share a comment below if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life has
inspired you.

1 http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/quotes
2 http://www.thekingcenter.org/node/554