Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Create in Me a Clean Heart

Acts 5:32

"And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

First, I'm going to write a little background on the context of the Scripture surrounding this verse. Peter and the apostles had been imprisoned for performing miracles, healed the sick and cast out demons in Jerusalem. Many people were brought to Christ during this time. The high priests and religious leaders weren't happy with what was happening and the fact that they were teaching in Jesus name, so they threw the apostles in jail. While they were at the jail, later that night, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and opened the prison doors and let them out. The angel said to them, "Go stand in the temple and speak to the people al the words of this life." So they left the prison, and entered the temple and taught there. The high priest sent officers to check on the apostles, and when the officers got there they found a closed, empty prison cell with guards still standing outside the door. One officer had heard that they were in the temple and told the others that the apostles were in the temple teaching the people. The captain and the officers went to the temple and brought the apostles back and put them on trial again. The high preist asked them "Did I not strictly command you not to teach in this name?" and Peter and the other apostles answered and said ,"We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (32) And we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

The apostles were first hand witnesses to Christ's life, death and resurrection. They had so much boldness in preaching the Gospel and teaching about Jesus to the people. They weren't afraid to speak out, and even were willing to be imprisoned for their beliefs. I hear of people like this today. Martyrs for Christ, and it prompts me to ask myself the question, Would I be a martyr for Christ? Am I bold in speaking about Him or would I rather please men ? Galations 1:10 says, "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men ? For If I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." This verse is pretty clear. Its important for us to search our hearts and make sure that we are always aligned with Christ. Recently, the Lord gave me Psalm 51 and it has really stuck out to me and its something that I want to make my prayer everyday. Verses 10-12 say "create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me". I want the Lord to search my heart and reveal any wicked way within me, and start my day aligned with Him. When my heart is pure and my posture is aligned with God, then my intentions will be aligned with His will as well.

The Apostles may have physically seen Jesus firsthand and witnessed His life, death and resurrection, but we see Jesus today in many different forms. For me personally, God has made Himself so evident in my life. When I look back on my life, and where I was, and where I could have wound up, I see God's Hand guiding me and protecting me through everything. There is not just my testimony, but also the testimonies of those around us, and of those in the Bible that witness to us about Jesus and His never ending love, grace and mercy on us everyday. I also feel His presence everyday. Because I have obeyed Him and have made Jesus my Lord and Savior, He has given me the gift of His Holy Spirit whom has been my Comforter, my Advocate to the Father, and also the One who convicts me daily of my sin. Once I confess my sin to the Lord with an open and pure heart, that burden and heaviness on my heart is lifted and there is a peace that washes over me and I know that I have been forgiven.

As I mentioned earlier, I want to be more diligent in making Psalm 51 my prayer every morning when I wake up. So tonight, I will write it down in my prayer journal, and then wake up tomorrow and start my day with it as my prayer every morning.

Psalm 51:1-13

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Wonderful Counselor

 John 20:29b
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Jesus says these words to Thomas, whom doubted that Jesus was risen. Thomas did not believe the other apostles when they told him that they had seen the risen Lord. In that statement Jesus is talking about us that believe in Him and believe that He was raised from the dead.
Although I have not physically seen Jesus, I feel His presence every single day. I have not seen Him, but I have no doubt of His existence as my Lord and Saviour. He has been there for me every step of the way and its so evident when I look back at my life and all that He has brought me through. Not only in my past, but everyday, He clearly speaks to me through His Word and through prayer, and its always exactly what I need to hear. His is my Comforter, my Redeemer, my God, my Everything. Isaiah 9:6 says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace". He has been all these things to me, but the one that sticks out the most to me is Counselor. When I was in my teens I had some traumatic events that happened to me and I didn't know how to cope. I ended up going to a worldy counselor. This person had gone through training, and had the best intentions at heart, but honestly she had only made things worse for me. I was a young girl, broken, confused and angry. I was very bitter and held onto resentment for years and used many worldy things to cope with it and just ended up falling deeper and deeper into misery. It wasn't until I surrendered to God that I was finally free from that. It was still a process, but through biblical counseling, compassion, love and prayer, I have now been able to feel the freedom that I longed to have for so many years. Through Christ, I have learned to forgive those who have hurt me, and also to forgive myself.

Application :

Today, I will pray for all those who are broken and hurting. I will pray that the Lord will comfort them and counsel them through His Word and through Godly men and women, and ultimatley mend thier broken hearts and free them from thier misery and depression. I will also pray for oppurtunities for the Lord to use me in this way as well.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Being Bold

Romans 10:9
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

Both these things are crucial in our salvation. First, we must "declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord." We must speak boldly about Jesus and not be ashamed, no matter how many people mock us or make fun of us for our faith. Second, we must believe in our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead. If we do not believe that Jesus is God and that He has been raised from the dead, then we do not have salvation. This puts us in a dangerous situation, where we think of Jesus as just a prophet or a teacher and nothing more.
For me I believe both that Jesus is Lord and that He has been raised from the dead with all my heart. I have outwardly declared my faith in Jesus, but I do still struggle from time to time with speaking boldly about the Lord. I have been mocked and made of for my faith. It is hurtful in a lot of ways, but mostly it hurts me that they don't see the change that Christ can do in our lives. Sometimes it is hard to be bold and speak outwardly about the Lord because of this , but I also want so desparatley to help them and end thier misery. For me, I really struggle in finding a balance of what to say and how to say it. I also fear that I will be too forceful and ultimatley push someone away. There were many times I can remember that I would get annoyed and felt like I was being forced to believe something, and being stubborn and strong willed, it only made things worse. In a way it did plant seeds for me though, but what really drew me closer to the Lord was the compassion and love that I was shown in my time of need. No matter how much I messed up, there were believers that kept me in prayer and never looked down on me. Instead they loved me and showed me how much they truly care and showed me the way lovingly. That is the balance that I want to have. I also find myself being nervous when im talking to the kids here and telling them what salvation really is and asking if any of them want to know Jesus as thier Lord and Savior. I find myself holding back sometimes or not expounding on it enough because I have a fear that I am being too forceful or that they will just say a prayer and not really mean it or understand what it means. I really want to be bolder in this aspect though. Fear does not come from God, and it is so important that these kids understand who Jesus is and desire to have Him in thier lives.
Starting today, I will pray for boldness to speak about the Lord . I will also pray for the Holy Spirit to guide my words and help me find that balance of showing compassion, love and how to share about the Lord.