Friday, September 30, 2011

Love inspires!

Love inspires!

     Maybe you think you can’t be like other people you admire.  You have been down too many wrong roads, taken disturbing turns, and ended up somewhere you didn’t want to go.

    Well, I’ve got good news for you.  There is an antidote for despair, a cure for discouragement, and a pathway filled with light and love—and it is available to you.  This may sound like an advertisement for some new product that will rip off your money and leave you worse off than ever before.  Maybe you’ve been suckered by false claims in the past—or maybe you’ve even been the one to make them!  None of that matters—not now.  This is the present.  Today is the day of salvation.  No matter which destructive roads you may have traveled, there is a detour available to you, and if you choose to take it, you’ll never turn back.  I can promise you that, because I know that once a person experiences the hope, the joy, and the wonder of walking with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ it is impossible to return to forsaken paths that lead to destruction of the soul.

     Does that mean you’ll never relapse on your addiction of choice?  That you’ll never return to unhealthy relationships?  Not necessarily.  We are human and humans sometimes fail.  It means you’ll have experienced the joy and excitement of a journey with Christ and even if you stray, you know there is something out there that is wonderful.  Something that draws, even the wandering heart, back home.That something is the love of Christ.  A love that inspires us to come up higher.  Draw nearer. Dig deeper. Go the distance—all the way to our heavenly home.  It secures safe passage through the valley of the shadow of death and opens the door to new life for every believer who earnestly desires to walk with Christ.

     Put your hand in His today.  Let him lead you to a place of safety, envelop you in His love, create a new heart in you and inspire you to be the person He always knew you could be.  You are beautiful in His eyes.  You always were.

1 Corinthians 13:8a  “Love never fails…”

Linda Settles

Monday, September 19, 2011

"I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you." Colossians 4:18

"Remember my chains", Paul doesn't want his friends to forget he is suffering in prison. How easy it is to forget- out of sight, out of mind...right?

 One way to help you remember those who are "in chains", so to speak, is to write to them regularly. The ladies in our local jail are only allowed to have a Bible study twice a month, for ninety minutes. They would like to come more often, but the rules for whatever reason,  forbid it. In order to stay in touch with the girls I decided to write to them once a week. I mail them small booklets which are allowed by the warden and letters and postcards.  It's a great way to keep the gospel in front of them. They love mail and are always very appreciative.

If you are a prison ministry volunteer I would suggest you write regularly to the inmates you minister to. I will write one letter to everyone, and print it and write a small individual note of encouragement at the bottom of each letter. Sometimes I will send a pretty postcard with a verse on it. In the barren colorless world of jail, a cheerful picture with a promise from God's word can mean so much.

Pray for the inmates, ask the Lord to help them share with their friends the encouraging letters you send. The booklets I mail have been passed around and have provided hope in some very dark times for the ladies.

"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." 1 John 5:13

Friday, September 2, 2011

Be careful what you resurrect!

Psalm 99:8 O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.

What is it in the human heart that takes us down a path that separates us from fellowship with our Father? We find the answer to this question in Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Listen to me today, my friend.  If you are incarcerated behind bars of steel, or if you live in a prison of fear, bitterness, or rage, you must look no further than your own heart to discover the source of your distress. 

 While it is true that we are unable to control many things that affect our life—a history of childhood abuse, neglect, deprivation, or abandonment—the way we respond to the challenges of our past will determine who we become.  A broken, illiterate, teenager can become a mighty man of God.  An abused objectified woman can be restored to purity. Think of the prostitute that wept at the feet of Christ and washed his feet with her tears.  Broken hearts not only need mending, they need cleansing.  And that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 tells us: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Are you willing, today, to allow the Holy Spirit of God to cleanse your heart of any and all of the impurities mentioned in Matthew 15:19?  You may ask,” Why would he do that for me,  a person convicted of breaking the law of our land?”   Why would he do it for me—a person convicted by the Spirit of God of transgressing his Holy law? Clearly not because we deserve it.  With all that ‘stuff’ in our heart, we hardly deserve to be rescued by a righteous God who hates evil.  Titus tells us “He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.”  The everlasting mercy of God saves us and His Holy Spirit cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

So, you say, if God loves me so much and is so full of mercy, why am I still here—sitting behind these bars?  The Psalmist gives us the answer to that question.  “You were to Israel a forgiving God , though you punished their misdeeds.”

Even though God loves His children and saves them from the eternal consequences of their misdeeds, he does not overlook them.  The Word says He “punished their misdeeds.”  The Name of God used in this passage (Psalm 99:8 NKJV)) is “The God Who Forgives.”

What good does it do us to be forgiven if we are still in prison?  As the Apostle Paul might say, “Much in every way.”  While we serve out the punishment of our misdeeds behind physical bars, we are steadily being released from the guilt and blame that we so richly deserve because of our actions.

Today is the day of salvation! (11 Corinthians 6:2 NLT) “Choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)  Will you serve the evil that so easily inhabits the human heart (Matthew 15:19) or will you surrender to the mercy of God and allow him to take your through the cleansing process that will renew and revitalize your soul?

Linda Settles is a prolific writer, speaker, and teacher with a story to tell and a purpose to serve. She sees every life challenge as an opportunity for growth, and a call to “come up higher,” in our walk with God.