Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Gift of Christ's Righteousness

“He who knew no sin became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior have stepped out of darkness and into the kingdom of light (Col 1:13). The Bible says we have been made righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. He took upon himself our sin and exchanged it with the gift of his righteousness. We are righteous not by our own holiness, but by the blood of Christ. We are clothed in him and have right-standing with the Father.

Our place in him is secure. Because of this, we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in our time of need (Heb 4:16). As we rest in the truth that we have been made righteous through the blood of Christ, the Lord will begin to cause his righteousness to affect our behavior. The work he has done within our hearts will progressively manifest in our outward behavior as we pursue our relationship with the Lord. This change will be wrought not through the sweat of self-effort, but through an ongoing faith in the Lord Our Righteousness.

Thank you Lord that you see me as righteous. Thank you for cleansing me of all my sin stains and thank you that I can now come boldly to your throne to worship you and to bring my requests to you my King. Lord, let me stand strong in the reality that I have been given the gift of your righteousness. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2008 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Knowledge of God's Love

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

The love of God empowers us; it inspires us to excel. When a teacher sees potential in a student and tells him that he has great promise in a particular field, the student is encouraged to take on new challenges and to expand his expertise in that field of study. When a mother tells her daughter that she is gifted in a certain area, the girl is motivated to cultivate that particular talent. Encouragement instills confidence in the individual.

Nothing can stop the believer who knows and understands God's love for him or her. Even in the midst of extremely difficult circumstances, the child of God can declare that he or she is more than a conquerer. Why? Because love dispels fear and causes us to overcome the hurdles of life (1 John 4:18).

David, the shepherd boy, defeated Goliath with a sling and a stone. But these were not his only weapons. David had cultivated a strong relationship with his God. He knew the love of God like few did in his day. Because of that love, David had confidence to defeat the giant and to one day lead the nation of Israel. In Psalm 18:35 David declared, “You have also given me the shield of your salvation; your right hand has held me up, your gentleness has made me great.” There is a picture here of God stooping down to lift David up. This is what God does. He treats us with kindness and gentleness. He takes us just the way we are, and he stoops down to lift us up.

It is the love of God that turned a coward like Gideon into a champion, and it is the love of God that can transform our lives. Let's pray for God to unfold his limitless love to us. He will answer this prayer. Let's search the Scriptures for the unfolding of this truth. And accompanied with that revelation will come his transforming power. The Lord will show us what our gifts are. And his encouragement will instill within us a Christ-centered confidence. A confidence that can only come through the knowledge of God's love.

© Copyright 2009 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

Our Lord wants us to be free from oppression. When we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, we experience a lack of fellowship with our heavenly Father, and we give the enemy an inroad into our lives. As born again believers, God has forgiven us of our sin, but unforgiveness keeps us from receiving the abundant life the Lord promises us. We become unable to experience His forgiveness.

When we choose to let go of the anger we have for another, we free ourselves. God commands us to forgive. We must remember that Jesus Christ forgave us of our wrongdoing against Him. He died because of our own sin. The Lord does not ask us to do something we can not do. He enables us. He gives us His love, and when we choose as an act of faith to forgive someone, He fills us with the love we need.

We may not feel merciful when we choose to forgive, but our faith is not based on feelings. Sometimes forgiveness is a process, but as we move in this direction of healing, God will bless us.

If you have been hurt by someone, but have not chosen to forgive, why not take time now to pray and forgive this person. What they have done may have been extremely wrong and damaging. God still commands us to forgive. This does not mean that we condone or approve of what the person did to us; it simply means that we no longer hold it against him or her. As Christ has forgiven us, we choose to forgive the individual. Included below is a prayer of forgiveness. Please offer this prayer to God if this applies to you.

Dear heavenly Father,

I am sorry for harboring unforgiveness in my heart. I know that what _________________ did to me was wrong, but I choose to forgive him/her. I trust that You will give me the love I need, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, to completely forgive _________________. Thank you for healing my heart and helping me to receive all the blessings You have for me. Lord, when negative feelings arise within me towards this person, I will choose again to forgive in Your Name. I ask you to bless _________________ and help him/her to know You and to walk with you in an upright way. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Abiding in Him

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

A branch draws its very life from the tree it is linked to. Nutrients flow from the trunk to every inch of the bough. Fruit can only be formed while the branch clings to the tree.

Apart from an intimate union with Christ, we are incapable of producing godly character. A lack of ongoing intimacy with Christ disables our effectiveness as witnesses to the world. But when we are linked to the Master through prayer, Bible reading, and continual fellowship with Him, we become vessels of His glory to a world lost in darkness.

If you find yourself lacking in this pursuit, the Lord would not want you to be discouraged. Instead, his desire is that you experience his love for you. He will help us all to take small strides toward this life of abiding. When we fall, he is there to pick us up. The Holy Spirit enables us to move forward in this discipline of continual dependence on Christ.

Dear Master,

I want to abide in you. I desire to draw my strength and character from your spiritual supply. I need to receive your life-giving grace all throughout my day. Help me to depend on you Jesus. I love you. Amen.

© Copyright 2008 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Artist

The artist eyes the model
With a master stroke he frames her nose
Oil on canvas
He portrays the young girl's beauty
Her playful gaze, her innocence
Revealing something of the child's nature

But God sees deep into our souls
He weighs the thoughts and intentions of our hearts
He perceives the full picture of our character
Nothing hides from his face
Yet every evaluation is motivated by unfailing love

He intends that we be all we are created for
Christ gave His life to that end
So God could paint the picture of our hearts to mirror His
Brush dipped in redeeming blood

© Copyright 2009 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Essence of Worship

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” John 4:23

The Lord is calling us to live a lifestyle of worship. As our lungs breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, so we are to receive the love and life of God and express our adoration to Him in a way that is as natural as breathing. The Holy Spirit desires to build within us an attitude of prayer.

Brother Lawrence, a 15th century monk, named this endeavor “Practicing the Presence of God”. He learned to approach his work of cooking in the monastery with an attitude of prayer and fervent thankfulness. It became his lifelong ambition to develop and maintain a lifestyle of intimacy with God.

We may feel that such an experience lies beyond our reach, but the Lord will encourage and enable us to grow in our devotion to Him. With his help, we can draw closer and closer to the One who loves us infinitely.

Dear Lord,

You are so worthy. I desire to develop a lifestyle of worshiping You. Help me to fellowship with you throughout my day - today and every day. Teach me to honor You in the moment. I choose to be a worshiper of You. In your name I pray. Amen.

© Copyright 2008 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Seasons Change

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Frost covers the ground once rich with hues of orange and brown. The fallen leaves beneath the white crystals compose a loose blanket shrouding the harvest soil.

Soon icy winds will give way to bursts of rain and rays of light, as spring sets in. In a few more months, the warmth from the sun will intensify and dance off the waters with summer delight.
Each season brings with it a myriad of modifications to the environment. And in our own lives, seasons change. God orchestrates shifts in our circumstances.

With each new season, we experience different levels of blessing and suffering. But whether we find ourselves on the mountain or in the valley, if we stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we will learn to see God in ever-increasing glory. With each season, we can view him with greater clarity and appreciation. As we grow in our understanding of him, we are lifted nearer and nearer to the Lord and we reflect his nature more and more accurately. Seasons ultimately create a catalyst that induces spiritual growth in our lives.

Dear Father,

Help me to recognize the season you have placed me in at this time of my life. I choose to draw close to you in the hard times and in times where I am experiencing your blessing. I thank you that you are in control of my surroundings and of my destiny. I place my complete trust in You. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

© Copyright 2008 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 13, 2009

In His Presence

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

All we will ever need in life is found in His Presence. It is the place where dreams are born. It is the fountain of joy and true fulfillment. In His Presence, we find healing for our souls, and it is here that we can cultivate the most intimate and invaluable relationship of all – a relationship with Almighty God.

To enter His Presence we must offer the Lord thanks and praise. Worship is the key that opens the door to God’s heart. He longs to shower us with his infinite love. He desires to teach us His ways. He wants to impart to us His wisdom, as he unveils to us precious gems from the Scriptures.

When we worship God from our hearts, we find ourselves in the center of His Presence. It is here that we discover the very purpose of our lives. We were made to worship and enjoy Him. And in this place we begin to recognize the specific mission that He has chosen for each of us. There is no greater joy in this life or the one to come than being in the King’s Presence.

Dear Lord,

Teach me to draw near to You. Give me a heart of thanksgiving and praise. Let me find true joy and purpose as I dwell in the center of Your Presence. In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

© Copyright 2008 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Resurrection Power

Philippians 3:10-11 I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

When we suffer, when we go through hard times, God does not forsake us. He is near and His Presence can turn our tragedies to triumph. Though we may die the death of hardship, if we turn to Christ and pull close to Him, He will arrive with resurrection power to transform us and make us more like Him.

He will work all things together for our good. Along with His transforming power He will bring hope and new life for us. Though we suffer at times in this life, the Lord blesses us in the midst of our storms. He uses them to mold our character, and He visits us with His glory to change us and to eventually give us victory in our circumstances.

The Lord also moves in our lives when we are tempted. If we run from sin and run to God, we experience the suffering of unmet desire, but we receive the glory of Christ's overcoming power. God can help us to overcome temptation in this way. Christ spoke the word of God in response to the devil's deceit. We can do the same.

During the times that we fall, the Lord is quick to forgive us, but let's make it our aim to be free from sin's chains. Let's stand upon God's word. Let's find a fellow believer who can help us stand strong. Christ's resurrection power awaits the soul who will dare to die to sin and receive the resurrection life of God.

Let's draw near to Christ in times of tragedy and temptation, knowing that His power will sustain us and make us more like Him. He is working in us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Let us rejoice that the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. That same power will quicken our mortal bodies. When we surrender completely to Christ, His resurrection life transforms us and gives us the overcoming victory we need to serve the Lord with gladness. Thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph!

© Copyright 2009 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Power of a Raised Life

Jesus prayed fervently in the garden. So urgent was His petition that sweat fell from His brow to the ground as crimson blood. He asked the Father to find another way for mankind to be redeemed, a way other than the cross. If He went to the cross, he would experience separation from His Father. But Christ's prayers ended in full submission to God: “...nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done.”

Judas, one of the Lord's twelve close companions, betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Ultimately, Jesus hung on the cross. Nails shot through each of his wrists and one nail riveted through His ankles. He hung between two thieves, who also were sentenced to death by crucifixion. Christ's innocent blood poured down as He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” At his death, the ground shook and the temple veil - that separated us from the presence of God – ripped in half.

They laid his body in the tomb, and three days past. Mary Magdalene ventured early to the tomb on the first day of the week and saw that the stone had somehow rolled away from the tomb. She thought that thieves had stolen Jesus' body in the night. She ran to the disciples to tell them of the news. Later Mary wept outside the tomb and two angels appeared to her and asked, “Why are you weeping?” Then Jesus approached her. At first she thought he was the gardener, but when Jesus spoke her name tenderly, she believed.

Do you believe? Have you embraced the Answer to life's questions, the Answer to the hunger for satisfaction within. The solution to our quest for fulfillment is found only in the One who was raised from the dead. He died in our place so that we could also be raised to new life. When we accept what Christ did for us upon the cross as the payment for our sin, we experience His resurrection power in our lives. Romans 6:5-6 says, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

The resurrection power of God in our lives gives us dominion over sinful habits. He gives us the strength to say no to evil and yes to God. When we make the choice to surrender to Christ, His power fills us and transforms our nature. It's not that we become invincible or superhuman. No, we are weak in and of ourselves, but as we rely on Christ's life-giving power, through the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to walk in victory.

Let's examine our own hearts this Easter Season. Are we living for the Lord or are we going through the motions? Do we have a living and abiding relationship with the Risen One or do we just pretend to know Him? God wants to overshadow us with His grace and power. He wants to give us victory over the individual sin that we each struggle with. This Easter Season will you make a commitment to embrace what Christ has done for you? He is calling you to Himself. His love for you is limitless – He even died to prove it. If you have strayed from the path, He is only a prayer away. If you want to enter into a life-giving relationship with God, or if you would like to recommit your life to Christ, please pray a prayer like the one below.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I thank you for dying for me, and I believe You rose from the grave. I ask you to forgive me of my sin. I ask you to empower me to live a new life. I won't take what you did for me for granted. I surrender to you and ask you to take full control of my life. Thank you for forgiving me of my sin, and thank you that I will one day go to heaven because you paid the price. I choose to have an ongoing relationship with you my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer and you'd like to know what steps to take next, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at toya_tom@yahoo.com

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For Fadre

The year was 1996, and I was home alone in my Colorado Springs apartment. I moved to the area with a friend to attend Bible college. The sun filled our living room, and I glanced outside to glimpse a group of children playing. Bursting with energy, the boys and girls frolicked in the springtime sun. As I watched them, I noticed Fadre, who was twelve at the time. She lived in one of the first floor apartments. The young girl's knee was encircled with an orthopedic wrap. Immediately in my heart, I felt a desire to lay hands on and pray for Fadre. With that impression came a knowing that she would be healed.

I strolled downstairs to the first floor, and one of my neighbors looked inquisitively into my eyes and asked, “What are you doing?” I paused and wondered what to say. Then I responded, “I am going to pray for Fadre's knee, and God is going to heal her.” The answer I gave surprised me, since I am normally not so blunt. I walked outside and joined the children and asked them if they would pray with me for Fadre's knee to be healed. I explained that Jesus Christ still heals the sick, and He still answers our heartfelt prayers. They welcomed the suggestion to pray for Fadre. I led a prayer for God to heal her, but nothing happened. Fadre, who had dislocated her knee the day before, said her knee still hurt.

I remembered a story in the Bible where Jesus prayed for a blind man. The first time He prayed, the man's vision restored only partially – he saw people as trees. Jesus prayed a second time, and the man's sight became completely clear. I shared this story with the children, and then we prayed a second time. Fadre's eyes filled with joy. She tested her knee by walking slowly and then began to jump up and down. She declared, “I'm healed! I'm healed!” We were thrilled with excitement, and I was careful to give all the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of all health and healing. Apart from Him we can do nothing.

All of us as believers have been commissioned by the Master to lay hands on the sick (Mark 16:18). When we pray, sometimes the individual is miraculously made whole. At other times, the person heals gradually. Ultimately, every Christian, who suffers with sickness, will be healed when he or she meets the Lord. I am thankful that all of us can obey the Holy Spirit and watch Him work wonders for His glory and for the benefit of others. On a bright Spring day in 1996, a young girl named Fadre received a touch from God. I thank the Lord that I could be a part of that.

© Copyright 2009 Tom Toya. All rights reserved.