Thursday, November 29, 2012

In His Image

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12, New American Standard Bible). 

When I first read about the camera feature pictured, I thought it was pretty brilliant. The idea is that you cut a heart shape out of a piece of paper, then attach it to the camera lens. When you take a picture, the result is the photo is in the image of a heart.

We are created in God's image, so God could be able to shine through us. In our sin, that image is skewed. When we turn to follow Him, He forgives us of those sins and makes us new. As believers, we seek to be more like Christ, and this happens with God's power. When Paul wrote "put on" in verse 12, he explained that our new identities, as believers, take shape as we come to know Christ more (see Colossians 1:15, 2:1-3).

We can see God's likeness come to light when He grows believers in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, gentleness, and patience. This is a process, as we grow in our relationship with Him. We are given righteousness, not because of our own doing, but because of God's sacrifice for us. God genuinely, passionately loves His creation (John 3:16, Romans 8:32, Titus 3:4, 1 John 4:9, Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, Galatians 2:20).

God asks us to be holy, because He is holy. As followers of Him, we are called to live in the world, yet driven by Christ's lead. We are called out to follow Him, not only to be saved ourselves and to be a part of His family, but also to serve others and to love the world with the love and grace He shows us. We can be witnesses who live out the love of Christ.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo from

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fruitful Faith

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5, New American Standard Bible). 

I used to work with kids in arts and crafts often, which made for several great stories and memories. Some teachers and leaders above me helped me see the importance of not only providing materials for the art project, but also guiding the kids as they sought to complete the project. It gives the student a chance to possibly make a better craft, to learn more, and to hopefully trust the instructor more.

In a similar way, God is there to help believers when He talks about bearing "much fruit." He guides us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit that we receive as believers. What sort of fruit is this?  The "fruit" is the change God makes in our lives and in others' lives, as we abide in Him. The ultimate example of the kind of life that produces good fruit is Jesus, God incarnate, the One who died to save us.

As we put our faith in God, He helps us grow. He desires for others to grow closer to Him as well. We can share how that is just who God - the Lord who transforms lives like that - is, and He can produce the same goodness in others.

Lord, thank You for being there to save and transform us. Help us bear fruit with significance that honors You and draws more people to a restored relationship with You. Amen.

"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you" (John 15:16, New American Standard Bible).

More verses on this include Colossians 3:12-171 Peter 2:9, and Galatians 5:22-23.
Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo from

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stronger than Fear

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13, New American Standard Bible).

"Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear," said the character President Snow in the movie The Hunger Games. He said this as he was trying to convince someone to reduce the hope of a people, a people who had rebelled against him in the past. Even though this is a fictional character, I see truth in what the writers had him say about hope - it is stronger than the sort of fear that the character sought to elicit on people.

In contrast to this character, God is real, and just, and He brings hope instead of aiming to crush it. Even though we cannot see the nail marks in Christ's hands and feet like Thomas did (see John 20:24-29), we can have faith in who God is and what He did through Christ, His Son. There is this pattern that the Bible takes in revealing God's identity and how He's worked to free us from the slavery of sin.

We can have a healthy fear of Him, in regards to knowing He is just and in having respect, honor, and trust in Him (Exodus 18:21Psalm 115:11Revelation 14:7). This mighty God is also our Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). We can fully trust in God for who says He is through His Word and how He's been faithful to fulfill His promises.

As we put our faith and trust in Him, we put our hope in Him. We can have full confidence in Him, and He will not leave us empty. In His nature, He can make this hope within us flourish.

Lord, thank You for being our hope. Help us increase our hope in You, and help us share the hope we have with others who need You, too. Amen.

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7, NASB).

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo from

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Psalm of Thanks~Living!

"Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart

as I meet with His godly people.

How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!

All who delight in Him should ponder them.

Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty.

His righteousness never fails.

He causes us to remember His wonderful works.

How gracious and merciful is our Lord!

He gives food to those who fear Him;

He always remembers His covenant.

He has shown His great power to His people

by giving them the lands of other nations.

All He does is just and good,

and all His commandments are trustworthy.

They are forever true,

to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.

He has paid a full ransom for His people.

He has guaranteed His covenant with them forever.

What a holy, awe-inspiring name He has!

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.

All who obey His commandments will grow in wisdom.

Praise Him forever!"  Psalm 111 (NLT)

Happy ThanksLiving!!  (Shout To The Lord - Darlene Zschech)  (Thank You - The Katinas)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Best

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search with all your heart'" (Jeremiah 29:11-13, New American Standard Bible). 

God's unconditional love is something that reveals His divinity and His unmatchable, pure heart. He encourages us to receive His love. He invites us to trust in Him and talk to Him through prayer.

In Isaiah 46:4-5, God spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah and said,
"Even to your old age I will be the same and even to your graying years I will be with you! 
I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you. 
To whom would you liken Me and make Me equal and compare me, that we would be alike?"

The God of all time - past, present, and future (a.k.a. the "I AM") - has a divine plan to save His people. He sent Jesus Christ to show us His love on earth, as He came to speak and live God's Word, as well as sacrifice for our sins.  He did all of that so He could bring us out of the sin that threatens to damage us and into His family, where we are forgiven for our sins, are given the Holy Spirit, and can grow in our relationship with Him.

In Jesus, we can see even more how God loves us and wants the best for us and His kingdom. What's our response to God? Do we trust Him? Have we asked for forgiveness and leadership from Him? Are there ways we can share who He is with others today?

Lord, thank You for Your incomparable love and for wanting the best for us. Help us love You more and to trust in Your plans. Help us share where our hope comes from with others today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo is a print by Kyle Steed found at

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Holy Spirit gives new birth

"Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit'" (John 3:5-6, New American Standard Bible).

The Holy Spirit brings great spiritual renewal from God. In the verses above, Jesus explained to Nicodemus, a well-studied man, what it meant to have a "second birth." God has the power to forgive us, since He rules over all. We are asked to ask Him for forgiveness and believe in Him. Then, the Holy Spirit is given to us at this time of conversion. It is a new birth, because the old has passed away and the new life, walking with Christ, has come. We are brought into God's family.

Our good and loving Father is there to keep forgiving us for sins that come. The Holy Spirit is there to help us understand God's will and turn to God. Jesus is there as an example of how to live on earth and as a reminder that our sins have been paid for on the cross. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us out of sin and into God's truth.

So, this new birth is a monumental moment. When we have it, we no longer live under wrath but we live under grace. We can rest knowing that the Holy Spirit is with us as we live today until we are able to be in God's presence forever in heaven.

Lord, thank You for this new life with You. Help us share You with others so they can have new birth, too, and experience the healing You bring. Thank You for Your presence. Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo from

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Holy Spirit guides in truth

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" 
(John 16:13, New American Standard Bible).

One of the neatest things about God, I think, is that He does not leave us on our own to understand Him. A lot of people seem to search for truth every day, even if they are not a detective, judge, or someone who performs experimental research. God sends the Holy Spirit to believers to reveal truth and to guide us in understanding it.

The Holy Spirit does not only declare truth, but also seeks to guide people in knowing and living truth. We may rely on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, because He is one with the Father and the Son and was sent by them (1 John 5:7). The eternal Word and the eternal Spirit never disagree. The Spirit can remind us of writings in Scripture from the past, interpret the gospel for the present, and reveal things to come.

Lord, help us listen to Your Spirit and follow its lead, as we seek to understand You and hear from You. Help us lead others in Your truth. Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo from

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Holy Spirit testifies to truth

"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me" (John 15:26, New American Standard Bible).

"The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" is a common phrase heard on witness stands in courts in America. It is expected to be included in their sworn testimony. The Holy Spirit has a similar role as a truthful witness, as His teaching lines up with the Lord's law found in Scripture. The meaning of the Holy Spirit, "parakletos" in biblical Greek, is one who pleads another's case. The Holy Spirit, a part of the Holy Trinity, in this verse is described as being a witness to Jesus' identity.

Why is the Spirit comforting as we face our sins? The Holy Spirit can bring light not only to our sin, but also to God's grace. When we see the gravity of our sin, we can confess it and turn from it to God. God has the power to forgive that sin and free us from being slaves to it. Our sins were already paid for on the cross, so God forgives us out of His mercy. The Holy Spirit testifies the truth of Jesus to bring God's glory to light.

The Holy Spirit reveals the light and hope from God and helps us with the mission that God calls us to. Like a witness that testifies truth, the Holy Spirit helps us see the truth of who Jesus is. As the truth of God comes to light, we can pray that we and others are continually drawn into a closer relationship with Him.

Lord, help us see, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who God is and what He has done for the world. Speak to others about who You are through us. In Your name, Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Holy Spirit teaches us what to share

"'When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say'" (Luke 12:11-12, New American Standard Bible).

Will you zoom into view this point of time with me? Jesus was speaking to His disciples. In case they would be arrested and questioned in court on the account of following Him, He encouraged them to not fear what to say. The Holy Spirit would give them the words to say.

We may never be questioned in court about who we believe Christ to be, but we may be questioned by others. We may suffer in this world, but the suffering only lasts a moment (Romans 8:18, John 16:33, 1 Peter 4:13). We can rest in knowing God's truths last forever (Isaiah 40:8). God cares for all living creatures (Luke 12:6-7). He will be faithful to speak through His people at the right time, when we trust in His Word and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. He will help us know what, how, and when to say something.

It may be a suffering feeling, sharing who Christ is, since not everyone believes that He is Lord and Savior over all (John 3:3). No doubt - people may question the validity of our faith. As believers, we can rest in knowing that God will give us the words to say in such a situation through the Holy Spirit. He has been faithful to keep His Word in the past, so we can trust it for the future (Psalm 100:5). As we rely on the truth of who He is, He will teach us what to say as we share who He is with others.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness to speak truth to us and the world. Help us to be willing for You to speak through us, to proclaim Your glory to the world. Give us the words to say. Make us a living witness to what sort of change You can  make in a life. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo from
Recommended reading: the book Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce W. Longenecker; the verses Matthew 10:19, Mark 13:11, Matthew 6:25, 1 John 5:1

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Holy Spirit and the desperado

"'But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 
And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 
concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 
and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 
and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged'" (John 16:7-11, New American Standard Bible).

"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18, New American Standard Bible).

Have you heard the song "Desperado" by the Eagles? The illustration to the left is of the band, by Mark Stutzman (from The word "desperado" means criminal, but it reminds me of old stories about cowboys in the American wild west. I could be way off in my interpretation, but the desperado described seems to be about someone who seeks freedom by living apart from people and love (you can find the lyrics here, at

As believers, the Holy Spirit points out sin that separates us from God (John 16:8-11). The purpose of  conviction is to help us see our need for a healed relationship with God, our Creator, Savior, and King. God loves us, and Jesus paid the price for sin already. The hope is that we come to Him for forgiveness, restoration, and a closer relationship with Him.

1 Peter 3:18 explains that the end goal for the convicting is to make us alive in the Spirit. Is there some part of your life that is away from God? God wants us to desire Him more than sin and then put our trust in Him and His lead.

Lord, thank You for loving us enough to want to bring us back to Your presence, even when we sin. Convict us; help us see where we need more of You. May the Holy Spirit convict others, too, so they can also know and trust in You. Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Holy Spirit gives us God's power to witness

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8, New American Standard Bible). 

The witness. Jars and vessels, like the basket jars pictured, are usually made to have something inside them. What is inside you? As believers, God has forgiven us of our sins and as He is transforming us from the inside out. The same God who transforms us also has the power to tell His story through us.

The power. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul explained his message was based on things He learned from God. We are saved by God's power, and the body of believers that have come to Him are a result of that power. We can praise God that others can be saved by God's power rather than our own wisdom.

The vessels. What is your story of God working in you? As followers of Christ we have a story, a testimony of what God has done in our life through His Son. 2 Corinthians 4:7 explains how we are like vessels and jars, since God works through us to bring others to Him. The origin and power of saving grace is from the Lord.

Lord, help us remember to share what You have done in our life with someone else. Help us depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us share our faith with others. Amen.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo of Williams Sonoma Vessel Jars found on

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Holy Spirit walks with us as we witness

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20, New American Standard Bible).

More than a ship's captain, God knows how to navigate waters that lie ahead. He can help us walk through whatever comes across the path He leads us, even as we are given opportunities to witness. We are not expected to make disciples and baptize them without God's help.

M. David Sills explained this commandment as he wrote, "Making God known is what faith is all about" ("The Biblical Basis for Missions" article from The Apologetics Study Bible). When Jesus gave this command to the apostles, He knew God would send the Holy Spirit to guide them. In this Great Commission to go and share God's good news with others, we are not expected to go alone. God gives the Holy Spirit to guide each believer.

Lord, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to be with believers. Help us remember that You are Immanuel, God with us. Let us listen to the Holy Spirit's lead as we seek to witness who God is to others who do not know You yet.

Above study based on the workbook HeartCall: Women Sharing God's Heart (Jaye Martin, 1999).
Photo of Mortimer McCarthy at the wheel of the Terra Nova found on