Friday, February 29, 2008

God is Faithful...

...So Why Do I Find it Hard to Trust and Obey?

Recently, a friend of mine asked the question "If you could name just ONE song that touches your heart in a special way, what would that song be?"

That was a hard question for me to answer because there are SO many songs which have touched my heart over the years. (I have a playlist full of just a handful of such songs at the bottom of this blog.) Some songs will be meaningful during a certain situation...or for a particular "season" in my life. But, I think the one song that has ministered to me over and over -- in the hard times as well as the good -- is "Great is Thy Faithfulness" by Thomas O. Chisholm.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is NO shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest NOT, Thy compassions, they fail NOT:

As thou hast been Thou FOREVER wilt be.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth.

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Great is Thy faithfulness,

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

ALL I have needed Thy hand hath provided

GREAT is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Just think about it. God is faithful! Yes, we may go through times where we don't understand what He's doing or what He's allowing. There may be times when we can't see His faithfulness when we're in the midst of trials. But in the end, we can look back and then we do see that it was His faithfulness that brought us through even the darkest of times.

So often, though, I take my eyes off of Him -- and HIS faithfulness -- and look at my circumstances. I've discovered that it is hard to trust Him when I'm looking at my circumstances and trying to find a way for ME to get me through them. See, I can't get through ANYTHING in my own strength. It is only when I am looking to Him -- fully dependent on Him -- that I can trust matter the circumstances. It is in knowing and fully grasping just how much God loves me -- enough to send His ONLY Son to die for me (John 3:16) -- that I am able to fully and completely trust Him. Understanding God's perfect love truly does cast out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Another old hymn that I love -- and have been thinking about a lot lately is "Trust and Obey". I love the phrase that says "Never fear, ONLY trust and obey." When I remember how much God loves me, the trusting part is pretty easy. It seems to be the obeying part I can't seem to get down. I often find myself asking the question, "If I truly trust Him, like I say I do, then why am I not obeying Him?" It seems to me that when I don't obey God's leading in my life, I am really saying that I don't trust Him...I am living out of fear rather than living in God's perfect love for me. Trusting and obeying just seem to go hand in hand...and both seem to stem from knowing just how much God loves me. If I truly grasp His love for me, there really will be no room for fear...trusting Him will be easy and that trust should, in turn, be acted upon with obedience. After all, it would make sense that if I can trust Him -- based on His love for me -- then I can surely obey Him because of that same love -- a love that is always centered around His perfect plan for my life.

However, that is not always the case for me. I can know that He loves me enough to trust Him, yet still refuse to follow Him in complete and total obedience. I am learning that there is another love issue love (or lack thereof) for God. My unwillingness to obey, even after realizing how much God loves me, is evidence that I don't really love God in the way that He commands. Jesus says in John 14:15 that if I love Him, I WILL obey Him. Jesus is not telling me to go around trying to obey Him in order to prove my love to Him. It is the other way around. My obedience is evidence of my love for Him. When I truly love God with ALL my heart, soul, and mind, obedience will be a natural outflow of my love.

God IS faithful. As I begin to understand the width, length, height, and depth of His love (Eph. 3:18) -- a love that allowed His son to take MY sins on the cross (Romans 5:8) -- and truly love Him with ALL of who I am, then I will walk in complete and total trust and obedience.

Pressing in to my faithful Father!!!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Valentine Box

This is more than a Valentine's Day story. It is a story of hope...of truth...of healing of a wounded heart.

The Valentine Box

by Debbie Guinn

©February 2008

Julia was so excited! Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day and she was going to her very first Valentine party. She had been looking forward to this party for weeks and had long ago picked out her favorite pink dress to wear for this very special occasion. Julia sat at the table, diligently working on her Valentine Box, carefully cutting and placing each heart and paper doily in just the right spot. She knew that all the other little girls at the party would be far prettier than she would, but hoped that nobody would come close to having as beautiful of a Valentine Box. She would be certain to win not only the prize for the best decorated box, but the admiration of all the other children as they dropped their Valentine cards into her prized box.

As she was changing into her pajamas that evening, Julia noticed that she felt achy and it hurt to swallow. She knew what that meant, for she had been through many bouts of the dreaded strep throat in her life. Not wanting to miss the party the next day, Julia didn’t dare let her parents know how she was feeling. She knelt beside her bed, and silently said her prayers, pleading with God to make her sore throat go away by morning.

However, the next morning Julia felt even worse than the night before. Determined to go to the party, she put on her pretty pink dress, grabbed her Valentine Box and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. She tried hard not to talk because she knew that would be a dead give away. Her mother could always tell when Julia had strep throat by the way she talked. Then it happened…Julia’s mother asked her a question and before she realized it, she had spoken. Her secret was out. After feeling her forehead and examining her throat, Julia was sent back to bed.

She hung her pink dress back on its hanger, the tears burning in her eyes, as she realized that there would be no party, no prize for the best decorated Valentine Box, and the only sweets she would get that day would be the grape juice her mother was sure to force down her. Julia could not remember ever feeling so crushed and disappointed. She crawled into bed, clutching her empty Valentine Box…desperately longing to go to the party and fill her box with cards and lollipops from all her friends.

Julia thought the day could not get any worse…she was wrong. Later that day, something happened…something that would change Julia’s life forever…something so horrible, causing Julia such fear and shame, that she felt she could never, ever tell anybody about it. So, Julia took the shattered pieces of her heart and placed them into her Valentine Box. It would be her secret forever. After all, who would ever look in a stupid Valentine Box.

As the years went on, Julia would go through many horrific events, similar to the one she went through that awful Valentine’s Day. Each time, she would quietly tuck the additional broken pieces of her heart into her Valentine Box, always too afraid and much too ashamed to tell anybody what had happened…not even God.

Julia believed in God. She had given her heart to Him as a child. She knew that He loved her, and Oh, how she loved Him. She longed to climb up in His lap and let Him cradle her in His arms and wipe away all her tears. However, Julia had been told many lies that caused her to believe that she could never let Him see the secrets tucked away in her Valentine Box. Hence, every time Julia would think about climbing up into her Father God’s outstretched arms, she was hindered by her box. She didn’t dare set it down, lest somebody come by and open it, discovering all her shameful secrets. She couldn’t keep it with her for fear God would ask her what was in it. She certainly didn’t hand it to God to hold, out of fear the lid might fall off.

Day after day, year after year, Julia would walk up to her Father’s chair, look up at Him, and sadly walk away, clutching her box ever so tightly. One day, Julia walked up to her Abba Father, looked up at Him, and with tears streaming down her face, she handed Him her box. Her loving Father took the box with one hand and with the other hand, He reached down and scooped up His precious child and cuddled her in His loving arms.

After what seemed like hours of just resting in the comfort and safety of His arms, she bravely took the lid off of the box and one by one showed Him each of the filthy, ugly, tattered “valentines” that she had placed in her box over the years. One by one, Julia told Him every detail – where she got it, who gave it to her, and how it had nearly destroyed her. Then she placed it in her Father’s hands.

Each time Julia handed her Father one of her “valentines”, He took it, folded it, then set it aside. When the box was empty, the Father picked up all the pieces that had just minutes before been so ugly and torn. Julia watched in amazement as He pieced them together and handed her the most beautiful white rose she had ever seen. In amazement, Julia took the rose and, upon closer examination, discovered that each of the pure white petals had something written on them.

“I have redeemed YOU, I have called YOU by name, Julia, YOU are MINE.”

“YOU are my bride, blameless and pure.”

“I love YOU with an everlasting love.”

“I loved YOU enough to send my son to die for YOU.”

“My love for YOU is wider, longer, higher, deeper than anything you could ever imagine.”

“Even if the mountains shake and the hills disappear, my unfailing love for YOU will never be shaken and I will never break my promise of peace to YOU.”

“Nothing can ever separate you from my love for YOU”

“I have never abandoned YOU and I never will.”

“I turned my back on my Son, so that I would never have to turn my back on YOU.”

“Love ME, Julia, as I have loved YOU.”

Julia looked down and discovered that the well-worn sweats and stained t-shirt she had been wearing, just moments earlier, were gone, replaced with a freshly pressed, spotless, white gown. She took her Rose of Truth and placed it in her Valentine Box. Then she curled up in her Daddy’s lap and drifted off into the most peaceful sleep she had ever known.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friend of a Wounded Heart

Friend of a Wounded Heart
by Wayne Watson

Smile, make them think you're happy
Lie, and say that things are fine.
And hide that empty longing that you feel
Don't ever show it, just keep your heart concealed.

Why are the days so lonely?
I wonder where, where can a heart go free?
And who will dry the tears that no one sees?
There must be someone to share your silent dreams.

Caught like a leaf in the wind
Looking for a friend, where can you turn?
Whisper the words of a prayer
And you'll find Him there, arms open wide, love in His eyes.

Jesus, He meets you where you are.
Oh, Jesus, He heals your secret scars
All the love you're longing for is Jesus
The friend of a wounded heart.

Joy, comes like the the morning
Hope, deepens as you grow
and peace, beyond the reaches of your soul,
Comes blowing through you, for love has made you whole.

Once like a leaf in the wind
Looking for a friend, where could you turn?
You spoke the words of a prayer
And you found Him there, arms open wide, love in His eyes.

Jesus, He meets you where you are.
Oh, Jesus, He heals your secret scars
All the love you're longing for is Jesus
The friend of a wounded heart.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Victim No More

A Victim No More ©
by Debbie Guinn

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us .” Romans 8:37

WordNet® 3.0 defines a victim as “an unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance.” I think that definition pretty much defines all of us. I know it does me. In fact, based on that definition, I have been a “victim” many, many times throughout my life. In fact, just this week, I fell victim to a heater that decided not to work, leaving me very c-c-c-cold.

Fortunately, I did not stay a “victim” for very long, in this situation. I checked to make sure the heat was on, checked the breaker box, and then called the property management company to report the problem. Later that day, a man was here to fix my heater and we were blessed with heat before nightfall. (We were also blessed with above normal temperatures that day and plenty of sunshine to warm up the house until the repairman arrived.)

However, I have not always handled being a victim as well as I did this time. Many times, more than I would like to admit, I have allowed adverse circumstances to defeat me, plunging me into self-pity, hopelessness, and despair. “Past experience” convinced me that I was a weak and powerless victim who could not do anything about my circumstances and I simply had to lie down and take it. While there is truth to the fact that I had been a true victim at times, I was holding on to those past events, allowing them to dictate who I was and how I reacted to new situations. I had become stuck in “victim mode” – living as a victim, long after the situation had passed when I was, in reality, no longer a victim.

Victim mode is a dangerous place to live. It makes me vulnerable to continued victimization because I accept and even expect to be victimized. I am an easily recognized target by would be victimizers. I might as well wear a big sign around my neck that says “KICK ME!”

When I see myself as a victim, and continue living as a victim, I will soon develop a victim mentality. Victim mentality is when a person blames everything “bad” on somebody else. It's always somebody else's fault and, therefore, I have no power to do anything about it or change my circumstances – even my life as a whole. That results in my thinking, “life will always be bad and there is absolutely nothing I can do to make it better.” Victim mentality is worse than the occasional pity party. It is a non-stop, never ending state of self-pity that offers no hope of a bright future.

It is a very hopeless state because I remain stuck in my past, unable to move forward. It is a place of bondage with no hope of ever finding the freedom that Christ offers ( Luke 4:18 , Galatians 5:1 ). I cannot grasp or receive His love ( Psalm 103 , Ephesians 3:17-19 , 1 John 3:1 , 1 John 4:9 ), nor can I experience the abundant life He came to give me ( John 10:10).

So, why would I, or any Christian, who knows that God's plans for us are for prosperity and not harm, for a hope and a future ( Jeremiah 29:11 ), continue to live in the hopeless state of victim mentality? I knew that Christ came to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free ( Isaiah 61:1-3 ). I knew He came to give me an abundant life ( John 10:10 ) and that He wants me to walk in freedom ( Galatians 5:1 ). I knew that those old things were past and ALL things were made new because of my relationship in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:17 ). So, why did I continue to live as a victim for so many years?

I have identified three things that kept me locked in that victim mode. The main thing is what I talked about in my article last month. I had a faulty belief system and was believing lies from the enemy as opposed to the truth of God. You see, I “knew” – intellectually – that God's plans were for prosperity; that He offered me hope for a wonderful future. I knew – intellectually – that He wanted me to have an abundant life and to walk in the freedom and victory of my new life in Christ . However, I didn't really BELIEVE those things. I couldn't because my mind was so full of the lies that I believed that there was no room for the truth. I believed that I was worthless, unloved and unlovable. I believed that my purpose in life was to be used and abused by others. I believed that I was a victim and always would be.

The second thing that kept me living as a victim was fear. Fear really goes along with believing lies from the enemy. Fear is NOT from God ( 2 Timothy 1:7 ), so therefore, it must come from the enemy, who is the father of lies ( John 8:44 ). Satan kept me living as a victim, through fear, by believing lies such as “It's safer being a victim. If I try to step up and stop people from victimizing me, I'll just get hurt even worse. It's just better to let happen what's going to happen. Besides, I know what to expect as a victim. In addition, people feel sorry for me as a victim. If I'm no longer a victim, they won't have any reason to love me anymore.”

That kind of thinking may sound silly. In fact, it sounds somewhat ridiculous to me, now that I have learned and BELIEVE the truth. However, when a person is trapped in victim mode, with a faulty belief system, we believe those lies that tell us we are better off as a victim and that creates a HUGE level of fear of leaving the victim mode behind and living as a victor.

The third thing that kept me living as a victim was unforgiveness. Quite simply, as long as I harbored unforgiveness towards those I viewed as responsible for my victimization, I was unable to move out of that victim mode. Unforgiveness leads to resentment and resentment leads to blame. Blame and resentment ALWAYS leave a person feeling like a victim.

In his In Touch Daily Devotionals (3/17/05) , Charles Stanley says, “When we refuse to release our unforgiveness, we can expect to go through a series of painful steps. First, we will have difficulty dealing with the wrong done to us. If we choose to forgive at this point, we can skip many of the remaining steps. But if we cling to resentment, bitterness will take root, and we'll begin to experience defeat in relationships, emotions, attitudes, and even in our physical body.”

This was so true for me. I felt defeated in every area of my life. One day, I got tired of being a victim. More than that, I was tired of living as a victim. I decided that I wanted to discover and live the free, full, abundant and hopeFUL life that God promised and Christ came to give me. In Romans 8:35 , Paul asks, “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" He gives us such a clear answer to that question in verse 37 , when he says, “ Yet in ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”. I realized that I did NOT have to live as a victim. I was MORE than a conqueror through Christ !!!

It wasn't easy to break out of that victim mode – I had lived there for many, many years. It took a lot of prayer and perseverance for me to get out and stay out of that victim mode. I didn't just suddenly start living as the “conqueror” that Paul said I was – just because I decided that's how I wanted to live. I had to make some changes in my life. I had to work through those things that had kept me locked in that state for so long.

The first thing I did was…well I “did” something about it. I took action. I started standing up for myself, saying “no” and refusing to be walked over. I quit blaming others for all of my problems and started taking responsibility not only for my actions, but more importantly my REACTIONS to things that happened to me. That was really hard for me – mainly because I still believed so many lies. So, I fell back into victim mode many, many times along the way.

The real victory came when I started replacing those lies with the truth. It was impossible for me to accept and believe the truth when my mind was full of lies. I could not fully accept and believe the truth that God offers until I identified, disputed and exposed those lies as LIES, and then replaced them with the truth from God's Word. This meant digging into God's Word and seeing what HE had to say about me, about others, and about Himself. Once I firmly believed the truth, I was able to see myself the way God sees me – as a victor and not a victim. I saw firsthand what Jesus meant when he said “ You will know the truth and the truth will set you free .” ( John 8:32 )

The second thing that I did was deal with my unforgiveness towards those who I had resented for “ruining my life”. I realized that I was hurting not only myself, with my unforgiveness, but also those (such as my children, friends, and co-workers) who had to put up with my victim mentality that stemmed from my unforgiveness. More than that, it was affecting my relationship with God. Forgiveness was critical! Not only did I need to forgive as part of getting out of the victim mode, but I also needed to forgive in order to restore fellowship with Christ and others. Most of us are familiar with Matthew 6:9-13 where Christ gives us a model on how to pray. We love that passage and many of us can quote it by memory. However, how many of us know what the next two verses say? In verse 12, Christ tells us we need to forgive. Forgiveness is so important – and NOT an option – that He goes on in verses 14-15 to tell us “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. BUT if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I'm sure many of you would like to stop reading about now…we don't like to talk about forgiveness and simply do not want to believe that God would honestly deny us His forgiveness, if we refuse to forgive others. However, that IS what Jesus says….isn't it?

I would like to share some things that I have learned about forgiveness that may help you work through this area. Forgiveness is something that takes place in your heart – for your own healing. Forgiveness sets YOU free from the chains that you have put around YOURSELF by harboring bitterness, anger, malice towards the person(s) who hurt you. Often times, we think we are making the other person pay when we refuse to forgive them. The truth is that we are usually the only one who suffers.

I think it is important to look at what forgiveness is NOT. It is not an act or statement acknowledging the other person's innocence or letting them off the hook. If I wasn't wronged, then I wouldn't have any reason to forgive. If there is need to forgive, then it means I WAS wronged. I love what John and Stasi Eldridge say about forgiveness in their book Captivating . “If your forgiveness does not visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete. We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness to…all those who hurt us. This is not saying it didn't really matter. It is not saying I probably deserved part of it anyway. Forgiveness says “It WAS wrong, VERY wrong. It mattered, it hurt me deeply, and I release you. I give you to God.”

WOW!! Did you catch all of that? Understanding what forgiveness is and is NOT – and then choosing to forgive – was a powerful step for me to move from victim to victor.

Once I replaced the lies with truth and forgave those who had “victimized” me, the next thing I did was to begin to look at ALL those past circumstances and events – as well as my present ones – as opportunities for God to mold me into the person He purposed me to be ( 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 ; James 1:2-4,12 ; 1 Peter 5:10 ) AND to bring glory and honor to Christ ( Romans 8:17-18 ; 1 Peter 1:6-7 , 4:12-13 ). That has not always been an easy thing for me to do. For years, I resented God for allowing me to be a victim. But, as I opened my heart up to see His hand in everything – truly believing that He loves me and wants ONLY what is best for me – I was able to let go of that resentment and trust that God will use (and IS using) ALL of the trials and suffering that I have gone through (and will go through in the future) for His glory. While not everything I go through in life SEEMS good in MY eyes, I have learned that I can trust God to cause all things to work together for good” ( Romans 8:28 ).

Joseph , son of Jacob , is a good example of a “victim” turned “victor”. Genesis 37 tells the story of how Joseph 's brothers sold him into slavery. I'd say that definitely qualifies Joseph as a victim. Genesis 39 tells how Joseph was thrown into prison after refusing the seduction of Potiphar's wife. Once again, we see Joseph being victimized. However, never do we read that Joseph hung on to thoughts of being worthless or powerless. Never do we see Joseph living in defeat or feeling sorry for himself. Instead, we see Joseph continue to trust in God, using the gift of interpreting dreams – the very gift that was the final straw that led to his brothers getting rid of him. Joseph found favor not only with God, but also with those in charge, excelling both as a slave and again as a prisoner.

We see evidence of Joseph 's forgiveness towards his brothers in Genesis 45:5 when he tells them not to be distressed or angry with themselves, and again in verse 15 of the same chapter when he kisses and weeps over them. After Jacob died, Joseph 's brothers were concerned that Joseph would turn against them. However, Joseph relieves their fears in Genesis 50:19, 21 . “But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God?…So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

Throughout chapters 37 through 50 (of Genesis), we also see God's hand on Joseph , protecting him and also, using the very situations where he was victimized to preserve the Jewish nations and bring glory to God. I love what Joseph says to his brothers in Genesis 50:20. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Where are you today? Are you living as a victim or a victor? If you are living as a victim, I pray that you will take the steps necessary to move from victim to victor.

I encourage you to go back to last month's article “Out With the Old…In With the Truth” and work through that exercise of replacing the lies with the truth. It is a powerful process that will give you such victory as you discover that the truth really does set you free.

I also encourage you to ask God to show you if you are harboring any unforgiveness and resentment towards those who have hurt you. If so, ask Him to help you to forgive those people. You cannot live in victory, and will continue to live as a victim, as long as you have unforgiveness in your heart.

Finally, I encourage you to ask God to help you see all of the painful experiences of your past, present, and future as part of His work in your life, bringing glory and honor to Him. I have written in more detail, some truths that God has taught me about this subject, in “Joy in the Furnace” in the November issue of this magazine.

In closing, I'd like to share one final thought that God has been teaching me the last several months. If we never had battles (trials, suffering, etc.), we'd never experience victory. In other words, the only way to experience the “thrill of victory” is to fight in the battle. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 , that we WILL have trials in this world….BUT (He goes on to say) that HE has overcome the world. We should expect, therefore, to have trials, resulting in battles to fight. However, we cannot fight alone and unprotected. We must do as Paul tells us, in Ephesians 6:13-18 , and take up our armors, DAILY. Only when we are protected by His salvation, HIS truth, HIS righteousness; place our faith in HIM and ONLY Him; apply HIS Word; and spend time with Him (in prayer), will we be able to stand in victory and go forth in peace.

We are His children. Therefore, we don't have to live as victims. We are more than conquerors in Him…we are victors!

Pressing in to Him,


Originally printed in HeartBeat the Magazine, Healing the Wounded Heart, February 2008.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Being Changed Into HIS Likeness

As the new year began, I found myself longing to make this year really count for God. I wasn't really sure what that meant, until one of our pastors challenged us to make two resolutions this year that are important enough to keep. Those resolutions are Christ's commands in Matthew 22:36-40 -- to Love God with ALL of who we are and to love our neighbors in the same way we love ourselves. He preached on this passage in a way different from anything I've ever heard, bringing those verses to life in a way like never before. (Click here, to hear this sermon.)

I have been asking God to teach me what it really means to love Him with ALL of my heart, soul and mind and to love and value myself as He does, so that I can in turn love and value others as He does. One thing God has been showing me is that my focus in life shouldn't be about the things the world says we need -- like being financially well off, being healthy...or skinny, or even having a good self-image. It's about walking with Him...following Him and living in HIS will and plan for me every single second of every minute of every hour of every day. As I do that, I will be changed into HIS likeness -- or as my friend would say I will have a "God-image" rather than a "self-image."

I can never achieve a perfect self-image. I will ALWAYS find things in me that still need "fixed" and will live in defeat, knowing that no matter what I do and no matter how hard I try, I am still not good enough. However, if I am living every second for Christ, I will learn to see myself as HE sees me and accept the value that HE places on me...a value that says I was worth Jesus' death on the cross.

The same is true in every area of my life. I can never really achieve financial bliss or perfect health. The more money and material possessions I have, the more I want. My body is decaying...that is part of life. No matter what I do to take care of my body and improve my health, there will still be areas that aren't perfect. But, Jesus tells me to seek HIM first and THEN everything I need will be given to me. (Matthew 6:25-33) God knows my financial/monetary needs. He also knows my health needs as well as my emotional needs. It is GOD who meets ALL of OUR needs (Philippians 4:19) and it is through CHRIST that we are able to do ALL things. (Philippians 4:13).

I went to bed last night with these thoughts on my heart...and a renewed prayer that I WOULD love God with ALL of me...seeking HIM and not the things the world says I should seek. It was really no surprise that I awoke this morning and the "verse of the day" on BibleGateway,com was Deuteronomy 6:4-5 -- which is where God commands the people of Israel to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. Then I went to the other website that I use for my Bible Study ( Bible Study Tools). The "verse of the day" on that site was Romans 8:32 which says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all -- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Do any of you see a pattern here? It all goes back to the fact that God loves me and places such HIGH value on me, that not only did He send His son to die for me, but He GRACIOUSLY gives me EVERYTHING I need.

Well, I guess God is really trying to drive home a message in my heart today because the next thing I did was to look at the "devotion of the day" on that same website. WOW!! Did it fit in!! Rather than try and summarize it, I have copied (below) the part of it that really struck home with me.

Being Changed Into HIS Likeness
by Max Lucado

The reward of Christianity is Christ.

Do you journey to the Grand Canyon for the souvenir T-shirt or the snow globe with the snowflakes that fall when you shake it? No. The reward of the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon. The wide-eyed realization that you are part of something ancient, splendid, powerful, and greater than you.

The cache of Christianity is Christ. Not money in the bank or a car in the garage or a healthy body or a better self-image. Secondary and tertiary fruits perhaps. But the Fort Knox of faith is Christ. Fellowship with him. Walking with him. Pondering him. Exploring him. The heart-stopping realization that in him you are part of something ancient, endless, unstoppable, and unfathomable. And that he, who can dig the Grand Canyon with his pinkie, thinks you’re worth his death on Roman timber. Christ is the reward of Christianity. Why else would Paul make him his supreme desire? “I want to know Christ” (Phil. 3:10).

Do you desire the same? My idea is simple. Let’s look at some places he went and some people he touched. Join me on a quest for his “God-manness.” You may be amazed.

More important, you may be changed. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

As we behold him, we become like him.

Click here to read the rest of this devotional.

I challenge you today to truly fix your eyes on Jesus. He is not only the author of your faith -- the one who wooed you to Him when you first received His gift of salvation -- He is also the finisher (perfector) of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Determine to love and seek HIM with your WHOLE heart, as you allow Him to perfect your faith, mold you into His image...His likeness. Don't settle for souvenir t-shirts and snow globes when God offers you the Grand Canyon!

Pressing in to HIM!!

Debbie Guinn