Sunday, December 30, 2012

You Choose

But the good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God's message and produce a plentiful harvest for God – thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as was planted in their hearts.” Mark 4:20 The Living Bible

Jesus told a story about a farmer. This individual sowed seeds upon the ground. Some of the seeds were snatched up quickly by the birds of the air. Other seeds fell upon rocky soil. They quickly took root but then dried up in the scorching heat of the sun. Still others were choked by thorns. The last group of seeds fell upon good soil. These sprouted, flourished, and multiplied.

The seed in this story represents the word of God sown into the soil of men's hearts. The first group signifies individuals who hear the word, but allow Satan to immediately steal God's word from their hearts. Those who have hearts like rocky soil, receive the word with joy but when trouble or persecution comes, they withdraw. Those that have hearts overcome by thorns, allow the word of God sown into their hearts to be choked by a love for money and worldly desires.

But then there are those who have hearts that understand and obey the word. They allow the Lord to turn their hearts into gardens that bring forth a harvest within them. The truth is that we have a choice as to how we will respond to God's word. When we hear God's word we have a decision whether or not to accept it, whether or not to put it into practice.

We can choose, through the help of the Holy Spirit, to resist the devil when he tries to steal God's word from us. We can turn from shallow living and learn to endure. We can run from carnal desires and embrace Jesus' way of living. We can seek God for revelation knowledge and wisdom and choose to obey His every word. By doing these things, we decide to have an abundant harvest. We actually can choose our destiny in God.

Let's receive God's grace and ability. Let's live empowered lives and let's choose to receive and obey God's word. Then we will enjoy great spiritual success and the harvest within us will spread out to many. We will become sowers of the word ourselves.

Dear Father God,

I ask you to fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit. I choose to turn from those things that hinder Your working in my life. I choose to read Your word and put it into practice.  I choose to follow hard after You. Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to do this. Then, enable me to spread Your word to others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Conversation

Here is something the Lord spoke to me this morning.  I hope it is a blessing to you....

Dear Lord,

Good morning! Today we celebrate Your birth. Tom, I came for you and for your fellowman. I came for the children. I came for those lost in sin. I am Immanuel – God is with us. I was born of the virgin Mary. I was born to defeat death. I lived among the people of the world. I came to conquer sin, to defeat sin in you. I am your Champion, your Friend. I am love. Yes, I am love. I came to show the way to live. Live in My love. For love defeats the darkness. Love is the highest act of spiritual warfare. I defeated Satan at the cross, the place where My love was most fully displayed. Come shine My light this Christmas. Let others know about my love and about my story. Be bold, be strong for I am with you. Come and celebrate this Christmas. Receive My joy afresh and anew.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

If You Will Only Come

Blessed are those who morn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Christmas time is known as a joyous time of year, but for some it is a difficult season. Those who have lost loved ones either by death, divorce, or separation may find themselves grieving over their loss while the jingle bells are ringing. If you find yourself in this situation, my word to you is to draw near to the One who came as a baby, but who now is our Risen Lord. And if you haven't yet met Him, He is the most wondrous gift of Christmas.

He will hold you in His arms; He will bring you great comfort, if you'll only come to Him. He wants to heal the wounds on the inside that maybe you have not told anyone about. He is our Healer, our Restorer, and our Savior.

Jesus came as a baby, the sinless God-child. Fully human, fully divine. He grew to become a man and was nailed to a cross. His sacrifice paid for our sin-debt. Come to Him and be made whole. Come to Him and be comforted. If you come to Him in full surrender, you will be blessed and you will be comforted. The word blessed means to be happy. God will give you joy, if you will only come to Him.

If you desire to know the Savior, please pray this prayer from your heart.

Dear Father God,

Thank you for sending Jesus to be my Savior and Sin-Bearer. Jesus, thank you for suffering for my faults. I surrender to you. I ask you to forgive me of all my sins. I ask you to comfort me and be my Friend. I believe you love me. I want to have a relationship with you now. Thank you, Lord, for welcoming me into Your family. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When Grief Visits

When grief visits a community
When evil prevails
When innocence is crushed

Through the pain
The Comforter holds us close
The Spirit wipes away the tears
Dispels fears
Gradually heals

The prayers of the saints
Unified, led by love
Streams of mercy
Cover the wounded like a warm coat

We ask why
When God is sovereign
Why did evil encamp among us?
Why did God not stay the hands of harm

But God allows each man
The freedom to choose
Though He pulls and tugs at the heart
Still we have the choice

And we have before us the decision to forgive
We can do our part to love
So let us pray
For the Comforter to come
To wipe away the tears
Dispel the fears
And slowly heal us all

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In the Middle of it All

In the middle of the hurricane
In the center of the storm
In the midst of chaos

When all is crumbling
When the end looks near
When fear unmasks
Its dark face before you

Find your joy in Jesus
Lift up your voice
Shout to the Lord
Sing praises to the One

When all looks bleak
When death stares you in the face
Praise the Lord of Hosts
He holds victory for the upright

If your future is unsure
One thing remains for sure
God will work all things
Together for your good
For those who follow Him
Those who Trust Him
Those who praise His name
In the middle of it all

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let's Make Our Father Smile

And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

God calls His children to a life of faith. He wants us to trust Him in the big and little things. King David allowed Satan to influence his thinking and consequently his actions. David asked Joab to number the people.

You might ask, “What's the harm in numbering the nation?” But God listens to the rhythm of our hearts. He peers into the center of our souls. We humans recognize some sins as serious, such as murder and adultery, but God saw David's actions as a lack of faith. He did not trust God to protect Israel. Instead he fell into Satan's trap. The sin may have been more in the heart attitude of David than in the actual act of counting the individuals. Romans 14:23 says that everything that does not come from faith is sin. The Lord punished David by sending a plague to the nation.

David did repent of his sin, and the plague was eventually stayed by God, but there were many casualties. What can we learn from this unusual story? Our lack of faith displeases our Father. It also can cause us to do things that affect others. A lack of trust on our part can have a rippling effect. It can bring negative things in our lives and the lives of those around us.

What is the cure? First we must repent or turn about face and ask for forgiveness. Next we need to feed our faith with God's word. Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing God's word. It is also beneficial for us to speak God's word over our lives; this helps to build our faith. Finally, we must obey God, and expect Him to do what He says He will do in His word.

Faith is a choice. When we choose faith, we please God. The decision to walk by faith also has a rippling effect. Our faith not only blesses our lives, it blesses others as well. When we give in to fear, doubt, and worry, we can come to the Father and receive His love and forgiveness. Let's allow our Lord to build us up in faith. As we act on this faith by trusting Him, we make our Father smile.

Dear Father God,

I want to please You. I want to walk by faith. I want to make You smile. Forgive me for doubting You at times. Help me to feed daily on Your written word so that my faith can be established. Lord I love You and I choose to put my trust in You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thoughts

I am thankful for my God – faithful and true, loving and merciful. You were a Father to me when I lost my way. You will never leave me nor forsake me. You are my reason for breathing. I am nothing without You – my Source of life.

I am thankful for Lou, my wife, who is full of grace. She is beautiful like a diamond with many facets. She has taught me so much about life. I do not deserve her. She is a blessing through and through – a flower that never fades.

I am thankful for family and friends – all of you are precious gifts from our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for always being there for me.

Lord, thank you for Your many blessings temporal and eternal, large and small.
Thank You for always meeting our every need. For bringing us health and wholeness. Your love never fails. Thank you for living inside the hearts of those that know You. We can dwell in Your presence.

Thank you, Father, for sending Your Son to die for us. Thank You that He hung on a cross so we could be forgiven. He paid the penalty that we deserved because of our own failings. If you haven't received His forgiveness, His salvation is only a prayer away. Receive His gift of mercy; receive Him as your Friend and Burden-bearer. Surrender your life to Him. He will not disappoint you. Your life with Him will not be problem free, but You will experience the greatest love of all. And you will have much to be thankful for.

These are just some of my thankful thoughts...

The Focal Point

The archer draws the bowstring
Aims and releases the arrow
The marksman holds his breath
Focuses on the bullseye and gently squeezes the trigger

In life, we must hit the mark
But we lose
If we aim at the wrong target

Christ gave us two life-priorities
Love God
Love people

He painted the horizon
With a brush dipped in the word of God
Each verse colors the canvas of our destiny
Sets the coarse for us to sail to

The Holy Spirit breathes
Direction into our hearts
He imparts to us our focal point

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Because of His Love

I hope you enjoy this piece.  I wrote it around three years ago.  I know that because our dog named Muy-Muy is a little over three years old now.  Please let me know what you think...

My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Hebrews 12:5-6

My wife and I recently added a puppy to our two-member family. It's a boy, and my wife has decided on the name - Muy-Muy (pronounced Mew-Mew). She insists that its a French name, though she doesn't know what it means. I voted for the name Rocky and lost, but I am beginning to become used to his unusual name. We picked him up from the breeder recently at eight weeks of age. He is a handsome little Maltese.

Our new pet was tiny, cute, and quiet when we first brought him home. Now he can be rather feisty at times. He is teething and loves to nibble on just about anything. He likes to play, but he sometimes gets out of hand. And yes we are doing our best to teach him to go to the bathroom in the right place. We now see the weighty importance of training our dog. If we don't start now, he could become a monster. If we are consistent in our discipline and positive reinforcement at this time, we will reap the rewards later. A friend of the family kindly told me that if your dog becomes unruly you have only yourself to blame. So we are ready to correct, ready to praise, ready to give rewards to our puppy to teach him the way to behave.

The whole process reminds me of how God deals with us His children. The Scripture says He disciplines us because He loves us. My wife and I want a well-trained puppy not only for our dog's benefit, but also for our own. We desire order in our home and peace of mind. But God has no selfish motives. He disciplines us because He truly knows it is the best thing for us. The Lord is persistent at teaching us the lessons He knows we need to develop His character in us. The Lord uses His written word along with the promptings of the Holy Spirit to steer us in His direction. Let's cooperate with Him. Let's not fight back like a wild animal, but let's allow Jesus to guide us gently along His path for our lives. When we follow Him, He is quick to reward us and to use us for His kingdom purposes. When we yield to His correction, we find peace and sweet fellowship with the Master.

One major difference between our challenges with our new pet and God's dealings with us, is that the Lord changes our natures from within so that we can obey Him. As we surrender to the Master in the light of Christ's work at Calvery, the fruit of the Spirit develops within us. By His grace, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to follow Christ. Our dog does not have a transformed nature within Him. We can only foster changes to his outward behavior, but the Father disciplines us in love and enables us to conform to the image of Jesus by the power of the Spirit.

Let's yield to the Holy Spirit's direction for our lives. Let's obey God's flawless word. When we do, we we will draw closer to the Lord and shine for Him in the dark places. When we allow God the Potter to mold us like clay, we begin to reflect the One who made us. He desires to make us His masterpieces and put us on display. He desires to change us for one reason alone – because of His great love for you and me.

Dear Lord,

Help me to remember that when You show me areas where I need to change, You do this for my own benefit – because You love me. Thank you for helping me to conform to your image. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Favor of God

The favor of God resting upon a life
Causes forests to spring forth from a single seed
Makes enemies live at peace with you and me
Ushers long-awaited dreams to realization
Brings promised plans to fruition

God’s favor
Delivers God’s best to us
Enables us to trust
Gives us the upper hand
And causes us to stand

The favor of our Sovereign Lord
Can turn the heart of kings
The favor of our Sovereign God
Will give the prisoner wings

His favor brings promotion
Sets God’s will in motion
Opens doors once welded shut
By God’s grace not through luck

The favor of God that rests upon a life
Is a mighty force
Obtained by faith not sight
It rests upon the faithful and obedient
On behalf of these God will fight

He will show compassion
Love in action
To those who trust in Him
He will bring them an unrivaled-win

Such are the benefits for those
Who receive God’s glorious favor


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Draw Near to God

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

God has given us an open door – a divine opportunity. The unearned privilege of worshiping the King. When we worship our Lord, we are given access into God's presence. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us and we find in Him fulfillment, significance, and joy.

In His presence we can find healing for our bodies and healing for our inner wounds. Through worship, we grow in our experiential knowledge of God. As we magnify Jesus, He becomes bigger in our understanding, while the power of our problems diminish. When we worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we sensitize our eyes and ears to the moving of the Spirit. He guides and directs us, and He ministers to us His unconditional love.

Let's draw near to God and worship Him. Let's make worship a daily discipline. That discipline will soon turn to delight, and when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The One Thing I'm Thankful For

There are many things I could thank God for today. But I will focus on one. Two days ago, my sister-in-law, Lynette, was driving from her home to work. She was traveling east on Lake Street in Hanover Park, when she fainted. Her car cut across the center line and onto the grassy area on the other side of the street. While still unconscious, she smashed through a concrete rock. Then she woke up and hit the brakes – the car came to a halt.

God's hand was definitely on her. Though her car was badly damaged, she did not suffer any serious injuries. She miraculously missed colliding with oncoming traffic, as well as a large, formidable sign. She also did not run into any buildings.

The police soon arrived. She was taken to the hospital to determine the cause of her loss of consciousness. They ran a number of tests on her. The doctors believe she has some kind of heart arrhythmia. She is home now and only spent one night in the hospital. She will need to visit a cardiologist this week.

She is feeling fine. I want to thank the Lord Jesus for His protection for Lynette. Please pray for her complete healing and for the doctors to have God's wisdom in treating her. Thank you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ears to Hear, Eyes to See

Give us ears to hear
The gentle sound
Peace-filled words
Like a butterfly landing on a leaf

Hear His heart
Within our hearts
Hear His voice
That stills the tempest

That echoes love
Through the canyons of our souls
Your words dovetail the Biblical account
When we truly hear from You
There is agreement
Between Your voice
And the written word of God

Teach us to listen
Teach us to look
To see Your vision
Bursting on the horizon
Of our hearts

You communicate with us
Your beloved
Those You have loved
From the beginning

Your voice splits the cedars
Yet Your voice is still and small

Give us ears to hear it
And eyes to see

We are open doors
Willing to receive from You
All the day long

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Weakness We Overcome

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Our God rules and reigns over heaven and earth. He is supreme, and He has given His children victory over the trials and temptations of life. Do you see yourself as more than a conqueror? Do you perceive yourself as a victor or a victim? If you feel weak, know that His strength is made perfect in weakness.

Even if you see yourself as a lowly worm there is hope. Isaiah 41:13-15 says, “'For I am the Lord, our God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you, ' declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 'See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.” The Lord says that in our weakness, He can use us to destroy mighty mountains. In Him, we truly are more than conquerors.

But even when we experience great victory, we must remember we are weak in and of ourselves. Apart from Him we can do nothing. When God causes us to overcome in this life, it is only through our deep dependency on His ability that we succeed. We must rely on His power not on our own strength. When we are weak, He is strong, in and through us. In our own strength, we may be able to do many things, but nothing that is of eternal consequence.

Let's surrender our lives to Jesus and allow Him to display His power through us. We are nothing without Him, but with Him we are more than conquerors, able to crush any mountain that comes in our way.

Dear Lord,

Thank You for reminding me that I am nothing without You. At the same time, Lord, You give me Your strength. Help me to overcome the obstacles that stand in my way of knowing and serving You. Lord I worship You alone. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

There's a Doorway

There's a doorway found deep in the heart. Only those who bow low can enter. We must resist pride and loftiness and learn to serve – preferring others above ourselves. If we do this, through the help of the Holy One, we will enter this doorway and find all the riches of heaven. Humility comes before honor. He leads us into rooms filled with His grace, peace, love, and abundance. God honors those who serve Him. If we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up in due time. He will bring us into a fullness of intimacy with Himself. He will bestow on us His great blessing. All this lies behind that doorway.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Father's Love in Us

The Father’s love
Reaches to earth’s end
Touches trusting hearts
Strengthens quivering knees
Upholds the weak
Washes the dirt-encrusted feet of the poor
Rescues the dying
Heals hurting hearts and bodies
Embraces every race

The Father’s love
Knows no end
Refuses to quit
Conquers all
Dethroned the devil
Defeated death

The Father’s love in us
Gives us victory
Enables us to see
Sets the captives free

The Father’s love in us
Is the fire that propels us…
To change the world


Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Sea of People

The world is a sea of people
Composed of different shades
Various races
Male and female
Diverse ethnicity
Yet God sees only two differences

Those in the light
And those in darkness
Help us to reach the ones
Lost in the thick blackness of the night

But there are so many
Multitudes fallen
So many are blind to the true path

But we can do our part
We each can reach one
We can make a difference

Snatching brands from the flame
Introducing them to the Way
We can help turn the tide
For this great sea of people

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Will Rest

I will rest
In Your promise
I relinquish all my fears
Let the wind of the Spirit
Blow them all away

I place my trust
In Your provision
You’re my Source
My well will not run dry

Streams flow from
Your mountain high
Bringing life

You cause my heart
To experience peace
Stilled by Your great love

I will rest
In You my Father
Nothing is impossible
With Your hand upon me 

I will rest
In Your sure word
You are faithful through and through
I will rest
I will rest

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pride - Cast it Down!

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV

When the serpent spoke to Eve, he promised her that if she ate of the forbidden fruit in the midst of the garden, she could be like God. He appealed to her pride, yet before this took place, Eve had never been proud. But instead of resisting the enemy's subtle ploy, she yielded to temptation. Adam joined in this act of rebellion. Pride went before the fall.

Anytime we as Christ followers fall, we do so because of pride. Our enemy tries to tempt us with lies that inflate our importance. He wants us to look down on others, to give in to prejudice and envy. But when thoughts like these enter our minds, we have a choice. We can cast down imaginations and reasonings that are an affront to our Lord. We can choose the path of humility.

Jesus described himself as being meek and lowly of heart. Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will enable us to be gentle and humble. Humility is a fruit of the Spirit that is described in Galatians 5:22-23. This means that the fruit of humility is already in us.

When we are tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, we can submit to God and resist the devil. We can speak God's word and say, “I choose to be humble because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. I believe that humility comes before honor. I thank the Lord for helping me to be humble.” We can also take authority over our enemy in the name of Jesus.

Eve had a choice in the garden. She could have chosen humility. We too have a choice when the subtle tempter comes. Let's cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against God. When we do, we will enjoy the unhindered fellowship of the One who gave His life for us.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Your Grand Liberty

It is for freedom
That Christ has set me free
No longer bound by chains
You caused me to reign 

Fully forgiven, fully alive
You cause my way to thrive 

When I was bound in the dark
You chased away the shadows
Your light enabled me to see
Myself a sinner
You my Savior

Your Radiant beams healed me
Light of the World
You resurrected me
Thank you for shining down upon me
Thank you for Your grand liberty

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Finding Victory Over Sexual Temptation

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 NIV

We live in an age of sexual promiscuity. We have lost our innocence. We are bombarded by billboards, advertisements, movies, and TV shows that seek to draw us away from purity. The Internet, which can be used to do many good things, is often employed as a tool of the enemy to lock many into a prison of pornography. Our society has been blinded into believing that right is wrong and wrong is right.

But God's standard has not changed. Sex before marriage is still wrong. Adultery is wrong. And though it is not popular to say it, homosexuality is also wrong. God is a holy God, and He calls His children to walk in His holiness. What He calls us to do, He also enables us to do. We can all find freedom from the clutches of sexual sin.

Before I speak of the remedy, let me say that God designed sex; He is the author of it. Sex within marriage, between a man and a woman, is meant to be beautiful, passionate, and expressive. God wants us to enjoy this gift, and yet like many good things the enemy of our soul desires to pervert it.

When I was a teenager, I fell into the trap of pornography. Although I never had sex before I was married, I did have a problem with lust. When I became a Christian at age eighteen, these desires did not vanish. I struggled with sexual temptation well into my adult years. I did my best to resist temptation, but fell many times. I was afraid to tell anyone about my struggles, but one day I gathered my courage and spoke to a pastor about my problem. He told me my answer would be found in God's word. He encouraged me to saturate my mind with the truths from Scripture.

This is exactly what I did. I learned to quote the word of God in the face of temptation. I learned to keep myself from things I had no business watching. Little by little the stronghold of lust began to lose its power over me. Today, I experience a great measure of victory in this area.  I once saw beautiful women as objects of my desire, I now see them as precious to God.

Let me say that God loves all of us. No matter how far we've fallen, He loves us. He also does not consider one sin as greater than another. Homosexuality, for instance, is not a worse sin than lusting for the opposite sex. They are the same in God's eyes. All of us have been tainted to some degree. We live in a fallen world that is ablaze with perversion. But God has given us the power to overcome temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” No matter how far you have fallen, God can pick you up. He will help you to overcome. Know that you are not the only one going through this. Your struggle is common to man. The Lord will enable you to win in this battle if you ask Him to.

You must fortify yourself with Bible verses that deal with this subject. Learn to quote them to the devil when you are being tempted (See Matthew 4) . Say, “I choose to flee the evil desires of youth. I choose to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. I choose to follow the Lord.” Declare that you have the victory over temptation in Jesus name. Know that God sees you as a victor. Besides fleeing from temptation, we are to pursue the fruits of the spirit, we are to replace the negative thoughts in our minds with positive truths from God's word.

It is also important that you confide with one or more mature believers about your difficulty. This person can help you, pray for you, and become one that you are accountable to. This can help you to gain the upper hand over your sin. 2 Timothy 2:22 says to flee the evil desires of youth (youthful lusts) and to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those that call upon the Lord with a pure heart. We are to do this in the context of the Christian community. We need to lean on each other in the battle.

My purpose in writing about these things is not to make you feel unworthy or defeated, it is not to bring you condemnation. Instead, I desire to encourage you to shoot for God's standard and to find hope and victory in this area. If you are having struggles in this area, take heart and know that God is with you. He will help you overcome. When He looks at you, He sees a champion. You are more than a conqueror in His eyes. Where you have failed, He offers forgiveness. He will wash you white as snow. Know that He loves you very much and He only wants the very best for you always.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Praise Be

Praise Be to my Rock
To the Prince of Peace
Who sets my heart at ease 

Praise be to the One I serve
The Way, the Word

Praise be to Jesus Christ
The Lamb of God
Who paid the price

Glory, Glory to the Triune God
In Him my feet are shod 

Let the praises ring
From the mountain tops
To the valleys low
From the highest heights
Reaching down below

With the loudest shout
With a silent heart surrendered 

With the tambourine
With a symphony
With the strings of a guitar
With harmonies heard near and far 

Praise be to my Rock
Who freed my soul
Who made me whole
Who loves me unreservedly
Who clothes me in His glory 

Praise be to The Beginning and the End
My Forever Friend

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Infilling of the Holy Spirit

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Christ's followers were told by Him to wait in Jerusalem until they had been clothed with power from on high. Jesus said that in a few days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus ascended into heaven. On the day of Pentecost, the 120 believers, who had been waiting in prayer for the arrival of the Holy Spirit, received a mighty visitation from God. The Holy Spirit came, like a mighty wind, and filled them to overflowing. Tongues of fire visibly appeared above each of their heads and they began to speak in other languages (tongues). They spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance. There were various ethnic groups visiting Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. The empowered believers were enabled by the Holy Spirit to speak in such a way that these different national groups understood them, yet the disciples did not know how to speak in these different languages. It was a miracle! The believers were filled with boldness and Peter, who was among them, preached a sermon so persuasive that about three thousand were added to their number.

What is this baptism in the Holy Spirit? What is this empowering? What is it for? Let me first explain that in many places within the book of Acts we see examples of born again believers receiving this gift. It is described as an experience separate from salvation (See Acts 18:24-28 and Acts 19:1-6). Now I believe that the Holy Spirit lives in every born again believer. When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, but this is not the same as being baptized by the Holy Spirit or as being clothed with His power. To baptize means to immerse and to be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be controlled by Him. When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit he or she is immersed in and controlled by the Holy Spirit. When Jesus does this to His followers, He equips them to be more effective witnesses for Him – that is the reason why He does it.

A person controlled by the Spirit in this way is more sensitive to His leadings. 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 discuss the gifts of the Spirit. There are nine manifestations of the Holy Spirit, such as prophesy and speaking in tongues. When a person receives the infilling of the Holy Spirit, they are able to flow in these nine gifts as the Spirit leads them. Many times when an individual receives the empowering of the Spirit, they speak in tongues. Tongues is a heavenly or human language given to the individual for the purpose of prayer. The Bible says that when a person prays in tongues they become stronger spiritually or they are edified. This function of the Holy Spirit is meant to be private for the most part – between us and God. Scripture also says that when we pray in tongues, we pray the perfect will of God, because He is giving us the words to say. It is not my intention here to discuss all the different gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it would be good to read about them in the Bible if you haven't already.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is available to anyone who is a follower of Christ. We are commanded in Ephesians 5:18 not to get drunk on wine but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God desires for each of us to receive this infilling but we have a choice. We can either choose to obey and reap the benefits or disobey and dishonor God. The question is not whether you will go to heaven or not, it is whether you will please the Lord in this matter.

Let me also explain that this is not an experience reserved for “super saints”. It is available to all who believe and to all who will ask. Luke 11:9-12 says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” It is plain from this scripture that God desires to give us His infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is also just as evident that He will give it to us if we only ask in faith. If you would like to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit, please pray this prayer from your heart.

Prayer for receiving Salvation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit...

Dear Father God,

Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me and to save me. I ask You to forgive me from all of my sins, and I choose to turn my back on any behavior that displeases You. I realize that I cannot earn my way into heaven but I believe that You sent Jesus to pay the price for my sin and rebellion. I realize that it is only by Your grace that I can be saved. Dear Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for me and to save me. I now ask you to save me and to fill me with Your Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit and take control of my life. Fill me with your power and love. Use me to win a world that is dying without You. Enable me to flow in Your wonderful gifts. I thank you and receive this experience by faith. From this day forth, I declare that I am filled with the Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

His Word

His word cuts
Dividing soul and spirit
Its pages spring forth life within us 

Obedience to it
Builds an enduring foundation
Equips the man or woman of God
For fruitful ministry

His word spoken
Diffuses the enemy
Bolsters faith
Creates the miraculous 

His word is a sword and a shield
Causing us to flourish
Like a jungle paradise 

His word is healing
To all our flesh
Peace to our hearts
Strength to our souls

The word of God
Must be our indispensable companion
Our intimate leader
The champion of all our decisions

The word is a lamp to our feet
Illuminating our way
Towards the righteous path
Accompanied by abundance

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Command to Love

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love is the great commandment of the New Testament. Every directive in the word of God upholds the law of love. Every time we fail to obey the Scriptures we fail to love. A lover of God and man abides in the truth, and true love is defined within the pages of God’s word. 1 John 2:5 says, “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him. By this we know we are in Him.”

It is impossible for us to grow in love without a steady diet of God's word. The commandments of the Lord create the boundaries for the river of God's love to flow. Spending time in the Scriptures prepares, equips, and motivates us to love God and others as Jesus does. Our love for God and others is also fueled by having a firm revelation of how much God loves us. We love Him because He first loved us.

The love between a man and a wife is to be tender and passionate, loyal and lasting, but this relationship is to be secondary to the love we have for God. It has been said that there is no love like the love of a mother for her children. Those of us that have children are to love them and nurture them in the ways of the Lord, but still this love is not to be greater than our love for the Savior. We find that when we love God above all others, we have a deeper love for others. Why? Because when we put our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit first, we tap into the power of God, and God is love.

There are no two commandments greater than the commandment to first love God, and then to love others. Let's make it the goal of our lives to live out these two directives. God's blessing will accompany us as we follow in this way.

Dear Lord of Love,

Help me to make loving You and others my greatest aim. Teach me to put You first in everything I do, and teach me to love all people – even those that are difficult to love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm Taking a Stand

I’m taking a stand
Declaring who I am
In Christ

I’m more than a conqueror
In Christ

I am righteous
In right-standing
With God my Savior-King

I am the head and not the tail
Through Christ’s cross I do prevail

I am an overcomer
Through Jesus the Lover
Of my soul

The joy of the Lord
Is my strength
He causes me to reign

I have favor with God and man
He causes me to stand

The enemy’s under my feet
Satan’s forces must retreat

Greater is the One that’s in me
Greater than any evil army

Thanks be to God who gives me the victory
And causes me to see
Myself as He sees me

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Faithful, Kind God

You knew me before I was born
You sought me when I ran from Your face
Your faithful hand led me to obedience

Great is Your faithfulness
Awesome is Your faithful kindness

I am lost without Your touch
Surely Your arm is not too short to save

You are my Deliver
Righteous and True
None is like You

Great is Your faithfulness
How awesome Your faithful kindness

When I rose from the waters of baptism
You caused sin to die within me
I am nothing without You
My Lord and King

Great is Your faithfulness
Your faithful kindness astounds me

My faithful, kind God
To You be all the glory

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Prayer

Dear Lord of Heaven,

Teach me Your ways. Let me not long to be noticed, instead let me desire to be a servant, to lift You up, to bring You glory. May you become greater, may I become less. Help me to pursue Your goals and dreams for my life. Give me a heart for the hurting. Give me a passion to see the lost find their way home. Make me an instrument of your agape love. Help me to stand for righteousness. Let me glory in Your truth. May I tremble at Your word. Help me, Lord, to value the things You value. Keep me free from the love of worldly things. Teach me to live for the eternal not the temporary. Help me to honor You in all I do. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Lost My Keys

I lost my keys
For the third time this week
After searching
Up and down
From corner to corner

I remembered to pray
The answer came soon and sweet
I found my sunken treasure 

You care for the seemingly insignificant details
The mundane happenings
You’re concerned with the little things
Of our lives 

Surely you know the number of hairs on my head
You perceive that they are slowly diminishing 

Daily miracles trail my cries to You
You take good care of me
Even in the ordinary affairs of this life
You shower me with love 

Sometimes answers do not come
So swiftly

But you still have our best in mind
You envelop us in Your care
You work all things together toward a good end
Your hand weaves wonders into the details of our lives

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Word From the Lord

Here is something the Lord spoke to me this morning.  I hope it ministers to you.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Good morning.  Good morning Father, good morning Holy Spirit.  I worship You.  You are holy.  Lord I exalt You.  I praise You.  I love You.  Be exalted Oh God.  Be exalted.  Lord, what would You say to me this day, this independence day?  Tom, I am for you.  I am your God.  Be free in me unencumbered by the weight of sin - liberated from guilt and feelings of inferiority.  Come alive in me.  I am your source, your freedom, your joy.  Know that I love you.  I died for you.  I laid my life down for you and suffered in your place.  I would do it again if justice demanded it.  But know that your sins are forgiven – past, present, and future.  Know that I have prepared a place for You.  One day you will reign with me along with all the other followers of Me.  Celebrate this day - this day when America was born.  Pray for this great nation.  I desire to see revival touch this land.  Pray, pray, pray.  Know that I shed my blood for every life, for every soul.  Stand in the gap for their souls.  Declare freedom for the captives, Tom - freedom! This is the day of my salvation. Come and worship Me. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Secret to Greater Productivity

There is a secret
To greater productivity
A Sabbath rest 

If I work without pause
I find life wearisome
I become worn and weathered

If I take time
Drawing nourishment from the Vine
I discover supernatural strength
You redeem the time
I find I’ll do just fine

Because I waited upon the One
Who fills my cup
And enables me to soar

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

The word “delight” in the Hebrew from the above verse means to be soft and pliable.  As we find our pleasure in worshiping God and meditating upon His word, we are to allow Him to reveal to us those areas of our lives that need His gentle correction.  Like a skillful gardener, He prunes us so that we bear more fruit.  When we allow our Father God to minister to us in this way, doors open for Him to grant us the secret petitions of our hearts.
When God corrects us, it is never pleasant, but if we allow Him to have His way, we will see Him perform wonders within us and upon our circumstances.  As we spend time with Him, He incubates desires deep within us that, in His timing, will be fulfilled - as we delight ourselves in Him.  Let’s choose to be soft and pliable before our Father God.  As we do, we invite Him to move mightily upon the canvass of our lives. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Healing Grace

The Lord our Healer
By Your grace
We are made whole

A flash of lightning from Your hands
Restores all that's broken
Creative miracles
Born by the atonement

Healing grace
Flows as we seek Your face
A byproduct of a life
Focused on the heart of God

Healing comes
Sometimes in a moment
Sometimes as a gradual incline
Sometimes not until we reach
The heavenly gate

Your promise is true
You forgive all our sins
You heal all our diseases

You are the Lord who heals us
By Your grace
We are made whole

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I was lost

In a sea of gray
All my efforts led me astray
Religious ways
Left me like a withered skeleton
Dead works crowned me with illusion
Then light danced
Like a meteor out of the sky
Revelation filled my eyes
Truth revealed
Grace filled me
With resurrection life
Now I skip and leap
To Love’s harmonies 
Freedom fills the air
I am privileged
Because of Christ’s cross
Because of the mystery
Of Your divine mercy

Sunday, May 27, 2012


But we all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

The hands of the potter skillfully shape and mold the clay. He masterfully crafts the vessel in a way that fits the design he envisions. We each are vessels of clay. In order for our Lord, The Potter, to make us into what He desires, we must yield to the Master's perfecting work in us. If we resist, we will never be made into vessels of honor. We must surrender to the Spirit's promptings.

As we behold the Lord in times of worship, and as we gaze and graze upon His word, we will be changed from glory to glory. The Spirit of the Lord will conform us into the image of Christ. What we see in our times of beholding Him, will be made real in us. It is Christ in us who is the hope of glory.

Let's surrender to the Potter of our souls and lets fix our eyes on Him. He will transform us daily so we reflect His glory. Then we will be vessels of honor bringing the cool water of the Spirit to a dry and thirsty land.

Dear Lord my Potter,

I surrender all to You. Mold me and make me into what you desire me to be. Transform me into your image as I behold Your glory. I worship and adore You. Fill me with Your Spirit and use me to bring refreshing to others. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jesus Loved Him

Jesus loved him
One of the twelve
But he betrayed the Lord with a kiss

Christ washed his feet
Of the evil abiding within the disciple's heart

Judas the traitor
Enemy of God
Was all this worth thirty pieces of silver?
You perceived the horror of your deeds
But instead of repentance
You chose suicide

Who are the enemies in your life?
In mine?
Like Jesus,we are called to love them
Called to repay good for evil

Perhaps they will turn to the Master
The breach repaired
Perhaps they will choose repentance
Over the crooked road that winds towards
Death's door

Friday, May 18, 2012

Scatter the Seed

One of my devotionals was recently published in  If you'd like to read it, here is the link.


Tom Toya

Monday, May 14, 2012

Clothe Me

Pride precedes a fall
Lord, steady my heart
So I don’t slip
Teach me truth in the inmost place
Let me tremble at your word

May I know wisdom
The kind that springs from humility
Help me to practically apply Your timeless word 

Draw me to the poor
Let me extend my hands to the underprivileged
May I not strut before people
Instead, may my heart long to serve
Long to be of help
Long to love
Clothe me, Oh Lord, with the plain garment of humility

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Victory Through Praise

"But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed." Acts 16:25-26

Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail for bringing deliverance to a slave girl. The woman, possessed with a spirit of divination, was enabled to tell fortunes. Her exorcism infuriated her masters because she was no longer able to bring them money through her fortune-telling.

Paul and Silas felt raw pain after being beaten with rods, they sensed the darkness inside their dank prison cell, yet they began to sing. They sang praise choruses to God Almighty at midnight. And in their midnight hour the Lord shook the prison cell and knocked the prison doors down.

When we are faced with circumstances that encamp around us, when the enemy tries to imprison us, when darkness covers us like a thick blanket, God has victory in store. In the middle of the storm, we can lift our voices and praise the One who saved us. Our praises cause the enemy's walls to fall flat. The joy of the Lord is our strength. He is our victory, our freedom!

Let's let our praises to God arise! Let's shout unto God with a voice of triumph! We will see the enemy pulverized beneath our feet. Praise silences Satan (see Matthew 21:16 and Psalm 8:2). Hallelujah to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who always gives to us the victory!