A Righteous and Abundant Life

During my devotional time with the Lord earlier today, He led me to a verse in the book of Habakkuk that helped me to better understand how He wants His children to live. This verse says: “Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him, but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness.” (Habakkuk 2:4 AMP) As I studied this verse out, I realized for the first time the rich meaning, and the incredible promise, that it holds for those of us who believe. I wrote out my own personal paraphrase of this verse, and I posted it where I would see it often. It reads: “The righteous person by his faithful consistency shall enjoy life, live in happiness, and be made whole!”

In other words, when we consistently seek the Lord, trusting His Word, and determining to please Him in every area of our lives, we will experience the abundant life that is our inheritance in Christ. Jesus said: “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10 AMP) The Savior didn’t come just so that you and I could experience an average or ordinary life. He came so that we could begin experiencing the untold benefits of His gift of eternal life while we are still on this earth. While He warned us that our lives would not be trouble-free (John 16:33), we must never forget that He also promised us lives filled with enjoyment, peace, and blessing.

If you are not experiencing the abundant life that Christ promised, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I consistently and faithfully seeking the Lord, believing His Word, and living my life to please Him?”

God's Promise of Provision

When my family and I have been in a tight spot, and we’ve been tempted to become worried or anxious, the Lord has often shown me some encouraging verses from Psalm 111. They read: “The Lord is gracious, merciful, and full of loving compassion. He has given food and provision to those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever and imprint it [on His mind].” (Psalm 111:4-5 AMP) Here is God’s reassurance to us who have committed our lives to Him, that as we revere and worship Him, He will fulfill His promises of provision on our behalf.

Jesus revealed this same principle to us when He said: “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33 AMP) It’s a question of priorities. We don’t seek to gain things for ourselves or our loved ones, but instead, we seek God. We give Him first place in our lives, and we consult His wisdom and His Word in every situation we face. Then we ask Him for His help to carry out His will. As we concentrate on seeking and pleasing God on a consistent basis, He sets about actively working on our behalf—supplying our needs, and giving us the desires of our hearts.

If you are experiencing lack today, rest assured that the Lord has not forgotten His promises to you. And if you will begin giving Him His rightful place in your life, and praising Him for who He is and all He can do, He will pour out His blessings upon you in full measure!

Believing God for Rich Rewards

During my quiet time with the Lord recently, He impressed upon my heart that I was unnecessarily losing out on some of the rewards He had for me. When I asked Him how I was doing that, He led me to Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV), which says: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The Lord showed me that, though I was diligently seeking Him every day, I was not actively and purposely believing Him for the rewards that this verse promised. Now when I pray and petition God for something, I often sense a Holy Spirit nudge to claim the blessings of this promise, and I say, “Thank You, Lord, for richly rewarding me because I diligently seek You!”

If you are already diligently seeking the Lord each day, then rejoice! And claim this promise with confidence. If you aren’t seeking God consistently, the way you know you should, don’t waste another moment–begin seeking Him right now. Pray. Read His Word. Ask Him to speak to your heart. Listen for His voice, and with His Holy Spirit’s help, do your best to follow Him.

When you do, know that you are opening the door to rich rewards that will bless your life and those around you!

A New Resolve

I’ve always found the ending of an old year, and the beginning of a new year, bittersweet. When 2010 recently came to a close, it was no different. While I was excited about what new things 2011 would bring, I couldn’t help but feel a bit wistful about the unanswered prayers that I still held in my heart. I confessed my struggles to God, and I asked Him, “Where do I go from here, Lord?” He led me to a passage in Isaiah 62:6-7 (AMP) which says: “You who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence, and give Him no rest…” Those hopes, dreams, and promises in my heart, that I had been so sure were put there by God Himself, were ones that I was not to give up on. On the contrary, I was to continue to partner with Him to bring them to pass by persevering in prayer for them.

James 1:16 (AMP) says: “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” The Lord used this verse to remind me that because I had received Christ as my Savior, and made Him the Lord of my life, my prayers had “tremendous power”. And if I would “continue” in prayer, instead of losing heart and giving up, I would eventually see the manifestation of those things that I was petitioning Him for. So my advice to you today is–don’t give up on those hopes and dreams that you believe are from the Lord. Ask Him to fill you with a new resolve to lay hold of every good thing He has in store for you and those you love!

Make the Most of Your Time

I don’t always manage my time wisely, and even when I do, there are times when I can’t help but run late for things. Fortunately, the Lord taught me that because He is the great Redeemer, I can ask Him to “redeem” the time, so that I can be more punctual on a regular basis. “Redeem” in this sense means that the Lord will save or stretch the time for us, in ways that will save us embarrassment and problems.

One of the reasons why I feel confident about asking the Lord to redeem the time for me, is that I spend time in His presence and His Word every morning before I start my day. I believe that when we give God the best part of our day, instead of leftovers, He rewards us by stretching the time for us when we need it most. If I have an especially busy day ahead of me, or if I have an event or activity planned that I’m very concerned about, I know that I must spend extra time in prayer if I want to experience the best outcome.

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” When we have a full or challenging day ahead of us, we shouldn’t spend less time in prayer and Scripture reading, but we should spend more. I’ve discovered that when we give God the attention He deserves each day, He can make up that time for us by causing all of our efforts throughout the day to go more smoothly, more quickly, and to achieve better results.

In Psalm 90, Moses prayed, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NLT) Ask the Lord to help you make the most of your time each day, so that you can give Him His rightful place in your schedule, and fulfill your God-given purpose and potential!

Don't Fail to Ask

When my son, Joseph, and his wife, Miriam, visited us from California recently, he sent a text message to my cell phone saying that they were running late, and that they were probably going to miss their flight. That would mean that they would miss their connection in Chicago, too, and that they might not be able to arrive in Pennsylvania at all that evening. They were only coming for a weekend visit, so every moment counted on this trip.

Immediately, I turned to the Lord in prayer, and I asked Him to enable my son and his wife to make their flight out of California right on time. A short time later, I got another text from Joseph saying that they had made their flight, with time to spare. When I sent my son a text saying that I had been praying for them, and that I was giving God the glory, I got a text from him shortly afterwards saying that Miriam had told him: “I wonder how much wouldn’t happen for us if your mom weren’t praying for us!”

Miriam’s words greatly encouraged my heart, because I do spend a lot of time in prayer for my loved ones each day. I know what a difference it can make, and how worth the time and effort it is. It wasn’t always this way for me, though. Years ago, I spent very little time in prayer, and when I did pray, I didn’t see the amazing answers to my prayers that I see now. It wasn’t until I started studying the Scriptures diligently each day, and praying and standing on God’s promises, that I began seeing the hand of God moving mightily on my behalf, and on behalf of my loved ones.

The Bible says: “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2 NIV) This verse literally changed my life, and my prayer life, when I began meditating on it, and applying it to big things and small. These days, I’m afraid NOT to pray about something, because I hate the idea of missing out on God’s best in a situation. No concern is too small or trivial to take to the Lord in prayer. This may sound like an overstatement or exaggeration at first glance, but I assure you that it is not. If you agree with me on this point, but you seem to simply forget to pray about certain things, then ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to “pray about everything,” as the Bible tells us to. (Philippians 4:6 NLT) Then rejoice and give God thanks, as you witness Him intervening mightily on your behalf!

You Are God's Property

During my quiet time with the Lord the other day, He showed me a verse in the Amplified Bible that was a sobering reminder for me. Ecclesiastes 12:1 (AMP) says: “Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now].” For years, I’ve been declaring to Satan and his evil cohorts that I am the property of Almighty God, and under His protection. But if I’m honest, there are still times in my everyday life that I don’t behave like a child of the King.

The apostle Paul reiterates the fact that God’s saved ones belong entirely to Him when he says: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV) Paul was warning God’s people against sexual immorality, but this principle applies to every area of our life.

Paul also wrote: “So we make it our goal to please Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9 NIV) And here is the bottom line. In all things, our goal should be to do whatever is most pleasing to the Lord. When we choose our entertainment, our goal should be to please God. With our relationships, especially our close relationships, our focus should be on pleasing the Lord. Even where our eating and drinking habits are concerned, our greatest desire should be to please God.

If we remember that every command and guideline that the Lord gives us in His Word is for our own protection and benefit, it won’t be so difficult for us to do what honors Him most. If this message has brought conviction to your soul, pray right now: “Lord, I believe that I am Your property, and I ask that You give me the desire and the power to please You in every area of my life!” (Philippians 2:13 NLT)

Ask God for Something Tangible

When we are in a difficult place, and we are seeking the Lord, sometimes it helps to ask Him to answer our prayer in the form of something tangible. Remember the story of good King Hezekiah and the illness that threatened his life? God had Isaiah the prophet tell His servant the king that he should get his house in order, because he was about to die. Instead of resigning himself to his fate, Hezekiah turned to the Lord for help. As a result, God provided a poultice of figs which ministered healing and restoration to the king. (2 Kings 20:1-7)

The Lord could have easily healed Hezekiah without a poultice or any other remedy, but instead, He used this manner to bring about His servant’s recovery. I’ve discovered that when I need healing myself, or I have a problem with no apparent solution, I can ask the Lord for a “fig poultice” of my own, and He will often provide one for me. Receiving something tangible from the Lord when I am confused and hurting can encourage my heart and my faith.

After Hezekiah’s recovery, he didn’t go around telling people that he was healed by a fig poultice–He gave God the credit and the glory. But that poultice bolstered his faith in a way that helped him to see the Lord’s love and concern for him. Perhaps today, you are in a painful place, and you need a touch from God. I encourage you to turn to Him today and say, “Lord, please give me a fig poultice of my own…”

Power for the Weary

The other day, my husband, Joe, spent the entire afternoon outdoors cleaning our duck pond, mowing the lawn, and tidying up our shed. When he came back indoors, he exclaimed, “I’m exhausted and can hardly move!” I had been cleaning house all day myself, so I had a pretty good idea of how he felt. Nevertheless, I told my husband that Scripture tells us, “Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’” (Joel 3:10 NKJV) Joe laughed it off, but I told him that if he continued to voice his exhaustion and weakness—guess what?—he was going to feel more and more tired all the time, and he wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything for the rest of the day.

The prophet Isaiah received some startling revelation on this subject that has been encouraging God’s people for centuries. He wrote: “[The Lord] gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29 NLT) When you and I have reached our apparent limits, we can remind ourselves that God offers us His supernatural power and strength. But we have to ask Him for it, and receive it by faith. We can simply say: “Lord, I’m feeling tired, weary, and worn out right now. But I thank You for Your offer to revive me. I ask that You fill me afresh with Your power and Your strength. I believe I receive them right now, Lord, and I give You all the praise, in Jesus’ name!” Then, go about your business, and declare with confidence, “I am strong in the Lord!” (Ephesians 6:10)

With the Holy Spirit dwelling in you and me, and with God’s Word and promises stored in our hearts, we have access to heavenly resources in trying times that will enable us to live fruitful, productive, and energetic lives. Don’t settle for less than God’s very best in this area. Rise up and walk in the victory that belongs to you in Christ!