Unstoppable

When you are in love, you are different. You will do anything, go anywhere. All you want is to be with the one you love. This is true, passionate love – being totally committed, not just dipping your toes in the water to see what the temperature is like. If you are not in love, then why serve, why minster, why turn up at church, why go to another meeting? Rolland and I were missionaries for 26 years before we discovered this truth!

Rolland was even born on the mission field. But we got really tired and burned out. To say we were missing the point is an understatement. But then God got hold of us and poured His sweet “Holy Spirit love” into us. He transformed us into people who were fully in love, fully committed – and with that love comes unstoppable energy.

When you are in love, you have power; you will do anything and go anywhere your loved one asks. You simply trust the one you love to be there for you. You can run headlong into dark places if you know light is waiting for you. You can jump out of a boat into a stormy sea; you can take extravagant risks; you can live right on the edge. If you fall off or fall over, you fall into grace.

When you start to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, you start to get full. Full of what? Full of God. Full of the understanding that no matter what He asks you to do, you can do it. No matter where He asks you to go, you can go. You can live on the edge, because even in the darkest places, light is waiting for you. His love, His light, in you and me.

True love and passion make us unstoppable.

As we come to the end of this devotional plan, understand that God is calling you into a place of deeper intimacy with Him. He longs to fill you to overflowing with His love and grace, that His fragrance might spill out of you to touch the world. Surrender to Him afresh now, and let His unstoppable love consume you. You are loved!

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Letting Go

We have to let go of our preconceived ideas, our carefully worked out plans, our way of doing things, so God can live in us. We need new life, His life. If we are going to make room to carry His glory, we have to die first. We have to take our place at the cross and say, as Jesus said, “Not my will but yours, God. Your will. I will drink the cup You have called me to drink, whatever the cost.”

Paul prayed he would have sufficient courage (see Philippians 1:20). We all need that courage. Sufficient courage to look right into the storm you are facing and see heaven’s provision. Enough courage to drink the cup you are called to drink.

When a huge cyclone hit Mozambique and caused a famine, God asked me, “Do you trust Me, Heidi?” From screaming no, I learned to scream, “Yes, Lord! Yes, I believe.” In one week, we were given as many containers of food as in the previous 12 years combined. We fed 12,000 people a day, and then we fed more. The trucks rolled out and the people were fed. God did the impossible.

When we try to fix things in our strength, we become burned out and die of exhaustion. Why not drink your cup and leave your impossible burdens to Jesus? “Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord.”

It takes courage to let go– to let go of your way, to let go of being the answer. We are not the answer, my friend. God is.

If we live like this, it will mean fruitful labor. Without fruit, what would be the point of living anyway? But the seed has to be buried deep in the ground before the fruit has a chance to take hold. Before the harvest is ready, the fields look bare. All the life is hidden, ready to be revealed, ready to be released, in His time.

I pray that today you would know the freedom of simply being you and letting God be God. It is as you surrender your life, your circumstances, to Him, that His strength comes to replace your weakness.

Passion

Jesus loves us so much that He never leaves us the way He finds us. His love often starts with a question – a question that reaches down from the safety of our minds right into our hearts.

Do you love Me?

Often we are too quick to answer when God asks a question of us. Usually our hearts haven’t fully grasped what He wants us to understand. God is looking to affect our hearts more than our minds. He wants to wreck our hearts – in other words, to change the way our hearts feel about things; to change the way we react to the situations that exist in a broken world.

The Scripture says, “Love the Lord your God … with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). We are called to love God with every fiber of our beings. All of us, in our entirety, must be wholly given over to the Master – our hearts, our souls, our minds, our emotions. God wants us to be fully yielded to Him with reckless devotion. To “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This is passion! Let us determine to live lives abandoned to His love, lives made up of passion. Decide to trade the worst for the best, death for life, darkness for light.

Paul wrote that “…whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7), and said that all the things he had sacrificed in his life were “garbage” compared to gaining Christ as his Lord.

In surrender we actually lose nothing. We stand only to gain. We are gaining a life lived in His love. An oak tree starts life as an acorn hidden in the dirt. Nobody would even know it was there. But contained within that tiny, hidden thing are all the makings of beauty, might, splendor, and shelter. The little acorn simply takes a lifetime to become all that it was always meant to be.

Before anything else, beloved, we are His, hidden in Him. Today, let go of anything you’re holding onto that may be preventing you from pursuing Jesus with passion.

Lower Still

I have found that, just when I think I have surrendered my all to the Lord, He gently, graciously, uncovers a new layer of resistance in me that even I didn’t know was there.

For a few years now, I have preached a message I call “Lower Still.” This sums up the process of Jesus tenderly shaping, patiently reshaping, and then gloriously filling our lives with Himself. Do we think we have humbled ourselves and surrendered everything to Him? We can still go lower; there is still more for us to give up.

Surrendering everything to Jesus sounds risky, like it could be painful, difficult, demanding. Many ask, “If I completely surrender to Him, with reckless devotion, will I still be me?”

Here is what I have found to be true. Yes, it’s risky, but the reward vastly outweighs the risk. Yes, it can be painful, difficult, and demanding, but the joy and all-surpassing peace that Jesus gives can hardly be compared to such fleeting inconveniences.

Most of all, Jesus doesn’t rob you of being you. You don’t somehow become less than yourself because Jesus’ presence is larger in you. It’s just the opposite; the more you surrender to Him, the more you become who Father always intended you to be. This is all part of God’s upside economy, which defies the narrow-minded, one-dimensional, limited wisdom of human thinking. In choosing to become nothing, we become everything we were ever meant to be.

As always, Jesus is our model. He made Himself as nothing so His Father might be fully glorified through Him. In Philippians, Paul urges us to imitate Jesus’ humility. He cautions us not to be selfish or spend our lives trying to impress others. Instead, we are to live humbly, putting the interests of others before our own (see Philippians 2:3-4).

As we do this, we’ll not only find our purpose in Jesus’ Kingdom; we’ll also truly find ourselves.

Quenched

Miracles happen on ordinary days.

The Samaritan woman left her house to fetch water from the well on a morning that started like any other. This woman’s life was in turmoil. She had been cast out, overlooked, forgotten, passed over. She was not a respectable church member or a pillar of society.

I wonder if, as she walked to the well, in her mind she rummaged through the tangle of her broken life. Maybe she was trying to figure out how the tangle started. Maybe she had tried very hard, but things just kept breaking, and all she had now was cracked and dry. She had cried herself out. Hers was a parched life in desperate need of water.

Now she’s at the well. A man sits quietly. Unlike any man she had met before, this man is Jesus, Son of the living God. He asks her for a drink. She feels ashamed and inadequate. But He sees beyond her inability. He sees right into her soul, into the breaking and the dryness.

Jesus stops to really notice her.

He is committed – just to her. He talks gently about her life, but He sees her from a different point of view. This man, Jesus, speaks to her in a kinder voice than shame. His voice is all love.

Already the water is flowing over her parched life. She has nothing to offer, but she is loved—not inadequate, not unprepared or unable, just loved. The bubbling, living grace water pours in over her cried-out dryness, washes over her shame and the years of stubborn dirt and stained memories. Now all she feels is different, clean, made whole. Even more than that, she feels ready.

Miracles happen on ordinary days. Just like Jesus brought dignity and eternal life to the Samaritan women when He stopped and asked her for a drink of water from the well, He offers the same to you and me—bubbling over life. It is His gift to us, our gift to other parched lives.

Centered

The longer I walk with God, the more I want to emphasize the basics of the Christian faith. Today, if we want to, we can attend all kinds of special conferences that emphasize particular areas – prophecy, apostolic ministry, spiritual gifts, intercession – all of which are valid expressions. But the more I hear about such things, the more I want to focus my attention on the essence of the basic Gospel.

I keep coming back to the most basic elements of our faith: the message of God’s grace, salvation, what makes life, life, why we should have joy.

Jesus is the center of our faith. I keep returning to the center because I want to be centered! Here, clinging close to Jesus, we are safe, protected, shielded from the storms of life. The storms will still come. We will still be challenged, stretched, wrung out. But we will be anchored in Him. Secure, unshaken.

Racing car drivers are trained to focus their attention on where they want to go (as opposed to where they don’t want to go). The premise is simple: they are traveling so fast that if something catches their attention and they look at it, they’ll hit it! So they learn to tune out the peripheral and focus on the road ahead.

We find ourselves moving in the right direction when we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, our gaze fixed on Him. I don’t want to pay too much attention to the peripheral. I don’t want to be drawn away to focus on specialty areas on the side. I want to keep my attention on Jesus.

If I take my eyes off Him, I can’t follow where He is going. I am less in tune with Him. Less aware of what’s on His heart. When I keep my eyes fixed on Him, I stay connected to the simplicity and power of the Gospel. My priorities are the same as His priorities. My heartbeat is in tune with His heartbeat.

I believe when others respond to Jesus, they respond because of the simple Gospel message: from darkness to light, from death to life, from hopelessness to hope, from unbelief to faith.

Let’s keep it simple, and let’s keep centered.

Living As “Aliens and Strangers”

What’s the first word you think of when you hear the word “stranger?”

For many, the answer is “danger.” Of course, there are good reasons that we warn small children not to trust those unknown to them, but sometimes even as adults—perhaps even as a society—our first reaction to those who are different than us is to suspect they could be a potential threat.

The Bible calls for a different approach to strangers. The Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia, literally means “the love of strangers.” We tend to think about hospitality as having our friends over for a meal—but so long as it is our friends whom we are entertaining, it is not genuine hospitality, at least in the original sense of the word.

The Bible never promises that all strangers are safe, but nevertheless we are commanded repeatedly to love them. When we do so, the book of Hebrews suggests, we may just be welcoming an angel without realizing it. Those whom some in our society presume to be a threat could actually be a blessing.

Another key biblical teaching about “strangers” is that, if we profess to follow Jesus, we are strangers. Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews all use the idea of immigration as a metaphor for what it means to be a Christian. Our primary identity—superseding our allegiance to our country, our city, our family, or any other entity—is as citizens of heaven, and that means that we ought never to fully “fit in” on earth.

While it is appropriate to be grateful for and loyal to our country, we must be careful never to conform fully to the culture around us, because our ultimate home is elsewhere. Refugees—who, even as they integrate into a new country, often carry in their hearts a longing for the country they were forced to leave behind—have much to teach us about what it means to follow Jesus, living and seeking the good of this land while always conscious of our true homeland.

Reflection Questions:

1. How might the biblical command to hospitality—to love strangers—inform how you respond to refugees who arrive in your community?

2. If your first allegiance is to God’s kingdom above any country on earth, how might your views toward foreigners be different than those who are not Christians?