The Law

Have you ever gotten bogged down by the thought of keeping all the laws handed down to us in Old Testament Scripture?  Who of us could even come close to such a difficult task?  And, aren’t we as Christians free from that requirement anyway? Not free from avoiding sin, but free from the legalism of trying to keep all the laws which no human possibly can.

 As with all Scripture, the law mentioned in the Old Testament is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Our Father God wants us to know His laws and His expectations.  As a New Testament believer of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I think the purpose of the Old Testament law is to define for us what sin is.  That is, if there were no law we would not know what is right and what is wrong (sin).  I do not, however, believe that we can keep every one of God’s laws…not of our own strength. 

In Romans chapter seven Paul vividly paints a picture of the war which wages inside of us.  A battle to follow the law which is good versus the desire of our sinful nature to do as we please.  In verse twenty-four Paul asks a question of hope, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death”?  Who indeed? 

If we stopped reading after Romans 7:24 we would not know the glorious truth that is Jesus Christ.  We are delivered from the impossible burden of “trying” to keep the law because of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. 

The law was made an impossibility because of our sinful nature, but the once and for all sin offering of God’s only Son has set us free.  Free to sin without consequence?  Absolutely not.  Free to find redemption and right standing with the Father?  Totally. 

As Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.  I am confident of the truth in this verse.  Christians are no longer subject to a feeling of condemnation, however, being convicted when we sin is how the Spirit brings us back to a place of repentance before God.  This necessary repentance leads us to redemption. 

The takeaway? None of us are perfect.  Because we are human we are subject to temptation and we will sin.  But, the mistake of sin does not have to be our final stop.  Jesus Christ died for all sin forever; we only need to ask for His forgiveness.  As we repent and reestablish connection with the Holy Spirit of God we will be convicted by that same Spirit when temptation strikes again.  Pray for the strength of the Spirit; ask Him for His help over temptation and sin.  Ask in Jesus’ Name and you shall receive (Mark 11:24).

“Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus’ death for the sins of all mankind.  Provide opportunities for me to share this Good News of Jesus’ sacrifice for Your kingdom’s glory.  Thank You, Father, that we have eternal life because of Your merciful gift.  May we never take Your gift for granted, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen”.

Kami R. Lobner

The One Who never leaves

You know the old saying, “friends may come and friends may go”…but, there is One Who never leaves us.  One Who longs for us to draw near to Him and confide in Him.  Our Heavenly Father calls out to each one of us to turn to Him.  Jesus longs for us to talk with Him and to fully place our trust in Him.

Psalm 27:7-9,11  (NLT) states in part, “Hear me as I pray, O Lord…My heart has heard You say, come and talk with me. And my heart responds, Lord, I am coming…You have always been my Helper.  Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!…Teach me how to live, O Lord.  Lead me along the right path”.

Did you catch that?  God says to us, “come and talk with me”.  I don’t know about you, but I desire to do as the next line states and respond to my Lord with, “I am coming”.  Yes, that is my desire and yet I somehow fall short of doing that very thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I spend time talking with God. Unfortunately, I can also say that I look to other like-minded believers with whom to talk sometimes more often than coming to the Father.  Why is that?

I think that for me it is just easier.  It is my “nature”…my God-given personality to be around people.  I like the connection; even more than that, I long for the connection I can have with a brother or sister in Christ.  I believe God created us for relationship with each other.  But, I personally tend to forget that He FIRST created us for relationship with Him.  God created each one of us and He calls out to us, “come and talk with me”.  Maybe we respond by talking with Him…for awhile anyway, but then we leave to do our own thing.  We leave to pursue relationships elsewhere and sometimes forget to go back and “talk with” our Heavenly Father again.

The neat thing is He never leaves.  He patiently waits for us to hear Him calling and to once again respond. God is always there.  He is waiting to be our Helper.  He is our salvation.  God wants to be our teacher and to lead us along the right path.  We need only quiet ourselves in His Presence and respond to His invitation to “come”.  I praise God for the like-minded believers He has placed in my path.  I also praise God for calling out to me to “come talk” with Him when my focus shifts to others ahead of Him.  He is the One and Only Who shall never leave nor forsake me.  Perhaps it is time I focus on remaining also in Him. 

“Heavenly Father, I praise Your Holy Name.  Thank You, Jesus, for calling out to me when my focus shifts to the things I can see in this temporal world and when I lose track of You.  Lord Jesus, I praise You for the gift of like-minded brothers and sisters.  I cherish those whom You bring into my life; may I bless them as they have blessed me.  More importantly, Father God, I praise Your Holy Name that You never leave me.  Thank You, Jesus, for calling to me to come and talk with You.  Sometimes loneliness overwhelms me and I hear You calling.  Sometimes tragedy strikes and You call to me.  Other times You speak to me during a quiet moment of reflection.  Praise be to Jesus that You never stop calling me.  Thank You, Father, for creating me for relationship; first of all with You and then with others.  Lord God, keep my priorities straight in that regard and lead me, always, down the right path.  It is in the Name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.”

Kami R. Lobner

Pray for a Sharpener

Proverbs 27:19 says, “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person”.  I have wasted years of my life hiding my heart’s reflection.  Was it fear?  Was it embarrassment?  Was it “no one here gets me”?  I think at times it was all these things.

I believe that I am a likable person.  I think I am funny and can get along with most people.  I “know” many people, but I let very few truly know me.  Very few see the true reflection of my heart which is the Holy Spirit living within me.  I get so excited when I meet a like-minded child of God because I can let my heart’s true nature shine. 

My two best friends used work with me.  I could talk about God with them.  We studied the Bible together and prayed with one another.  I miss them.  I miss doing those things.  I have begun to pray that God provide me another friend with whom I can “just be me” around; someone with whom I can talk and pray and whose excitement for God is like my own.  No one will replace my friends who have moved; we are eternal friends and we keep in touch as often as possible.  But, God knows me inside and out; He created me after all.  God knows the need I have for a like-minded friend.  He gave me that need.  He has also given me the heart of a servant; I pray He brings others into my life who willingly receive and encourage my servant’s heart.

I long for what God’s Word states in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”.  I ask God right now in Jesus Holy Name to bring a Proverbs 27:17 friend alongside of me at work, at home, at church and during my daily activities.  This does not have to be the same like-minded individual.  It could be multiple individuals.  We serve a big God, so I am asking for a big gift…the gift of a sharpener or two.  I believe that the God who created us for His companionship and in His image fully intended for us to have like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ come along side of us to sharpen and encourage us and for whom we can do the same. 

“God, You know our needs.  Your Word says that You give us the desires of our hearts.  I ask You now in the Name of Jesus for a friend or two who will sharpen and encourage me and whom I can sharpen and encourage.  Lord, in Jesus’ Name I ask You for that Proverbs 27:17 friend who will challenge me to grow in knowledge of and boldness for You.  God may Your kingdom’s work be increased through us as we come alongside other believers for Your good purpose and plan.  It is in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord that we pray these things.  Amen.”

Kami R. Lobner

Change the Filter

Reposted from January, 2019.

I recently found this applicable in my life again. I have battled my whole life to view myself as God sees me. Early in life (and often ) I was rejected and humiliated by someone who should have protected and loved me. So, I’ve always been a people pleaser. I also overcompensate for the worthless individual I was made to feel like at a young age; so much so that I can become overbearing. I “try” so hard sometimes to be seen as the child of God that I am. I try to be “likable”, which is futile if you think about it. I shouldn’t waste energy “trying” to be seen as the Child of God that I KNOW I am. I AM that child of God because of His free and great love for me. I AM compassionate, loving, kind AND lovable because I am a daughter of the King! Satan keeps me spinning like a top when I focus on the lie that I am unworthy. What a waste of time. What a waste of not being available to be used by God while my focus is on whether or not someone will accept me for who I was created to be; when my wheels are spinning to “make sure I don’t mess up”. BUT, PRAISE BE TO GOD that what might have sent me away hurting or angry now brings me to my knees asking the Father to show me why I do what I do and then show me His truth. Praise to God that I can GENUINELY see the love of God in the other person and I KNOW that there is no sense in “trying”; since God’s love is in both the other person and myself, life will be blessed for both of us and God will navigate the direction of our interactions. So, as a reminder to myself and anyone for whom this devotional rings true…

A very dear friend of mine recently prayed that God would free me from the filter of past hurts. She prayed that Jesus would heal me from wounds made by individuals I had once trusted and that I would no longer view myself through the eyes of anyone but my Heavenly Father.

My friend is very wise and knows me well; she knows the rejection of my past and the pain which went with it.  She prayed, I believe, as the Holy Spirit led her to pray.  She prayed these things so when someone says or does something which reminds me of a past pain I will be encouraged. She prayed these things, so I would not be prompted to sift other’s words and actions through my skewed and faulty filter of past sufferings.

But, “how” do I get to this place of not analyzing everything said or done to me when it triggers a feeling of past pain or rejection?  I take my friend’s prayer into consideration and I begin to ask God to free me from the former filter by changing how I screen other’s words and actions.  I begin to ask God to change my filter to His.  (John 15:12)

As I continue in the Word my heart and mind begin to change as the Holy Spirit works in and through me.  My filter begins to change.  I can trust God to heal old wounds and to help me better understand current situations and people.  I can begin to see how my Heavenly Father sees not only me, but the other person as well.  (Phil 2:1-4)

My filter changes from a past, egocentric view to a more unselfish and Spirit-led perspective.  When I allow Jesus Christ to lead my thoughts, feelings and emotions I am better able to sift other’s words and actions through His loving filter instead of my own narrow-minded view.  When I do this, I can look at others more compassionately.

What a change we would see in our world today if we all asked God to change our filter to His.  Maybe your filter is not the filter of past rejection and hurt; maybe it is a filter of deceit and being let down.  Maybe it is the filter of abuse or alcoholism.  The point is, we each have a history. We each have filters we screen life through, but when our filters are skewed by things contrary to God’s Love and His Word, we need to pray for His filter and not our own.  We need to pray for His eyes to see other’s as He sees them.  (1Thes 3:12)

“Heavenly Father, I thank You for friends who pray with and for me.  I thank You for the wisdom You provide to me through Your Word and through others You place in my life.  Lord, may I remain in Your Word and seek a change of filter from mine to Yours.  As I have been encouraged by my friend, may You provide me opportunity to pay that encouragement forward to someone else.  I praise You and I thank You for Who You are and how You see me; I thank You for Your truth and Your love.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

Kami R. Lobner

Wayward Sons and Daughters

Without giving the enemy too much credit, it is my belief that one of his primary objectives is to keep us focused on our shame and guilt surrounding sin in our life.  The enemy tempts us in ways we sometimes choose to follow causing us to become wayward sons and daughters.  Jesus, on the other hand, stands ready and willing to freely offer us His Way.  The better Way.  It is only by the profound Grace of God that we can receive Christ’s forgiveness of sin. 

This forgiveness is what transforms our lives from one of shameful bondage to that of eternal salvation.  But what happens if we stumble and sin again…and again…?

Praise to God that Jesus looks at each one of us with eyes which see beyond our past sins to the potential He has for us.  Jesus looks at us and sees the old dying and the new reflection of Christ Himself in our future.  But how do we attain what Christ already sees in us who are His creation? 

It is both easy and free yet our choice and something we must completely enter.  It is as Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.  It really is as easy as saying those words and believing in our hearts that Jesus has been raised from the dead and is seated next to our Father in Heaven.  But, it also requires that we bring it ALL to Christ.  We must bring ALL our sin, our mistakes, and our humility before Jesus to receive His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  Then, and only then, do we wayward sons and daughters attain right standing before the thrown of God. 

As Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God “(emphasis mine). Have you ever seen a child run to open a gift being given to them?  Such joy.  Such happiness and excitement. What would we give to be childlike again?

If you have not yet received God’s gift or if you have become a wayward son or daughter my prayer for you is this:

“Holy Spirit enter into this place right now.  Fill us with Your Presence.  We joyfully receive the gift of Your Grace. With our mouths we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and in our hearts we believe that Jesus is risen from the dead.  We bring ALL our sins, mistakes and hope to the foot of the cross.  We receive Your forgiveness in Jesus Name!  Our hope is found in You, alone, God.  We praise You for seeing beyond our past to the potential of You in us.  Use us this day and always for Your Kingdom’s Glory.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.”

Kami R. Lobner

Pray for our Pastors

I have a dear friend who is a Pastor.  I have seen this Pastor give all he has to his church until it affected his physical health.  He is but one man obediently following God’s command to care for and guide his flock.  Sometimes he forgets to care for himself and thankfully his wife is there to remind him.  What an amazing burden it must be when God calls one to be a Pastor.  A gift, undoubtedly, but also maybe a burden. 

I wonder how hard it is for Pastors to ask for prayer from those whom they have been called to lead?  Do they regularly ask for prayers of encouragement?

Do Pastors believe it would appear a sign of weakness or an indicator of not truly being called into ministry if prayer was sought out by the leader of the congregation?  If I speak only for myself I say, “I pray to Jesus this is not the case!”.  As it says in first Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…”.  It does not say Pastors only encourage and build others up.  This verse exhorts each of us to encourage and build others up. 

Like most I am no theologian.  My knowledge of Scripture is limited, but my ability to come before the thrown of God is secured by the same blood of Jesus as every other follower of Christ.  Because of the shed blood of Christ I have both the ability and, dare I say, the obligation to stand in prayer for the Pastors of our time.  There is no magic in what to pray; nothing this believer says is more powerful than any other believer.  I think that the key here is to simply DO it.  Simply commit to praying for our church leaders.  Perhaps now more than ever Pastors need prayers of encouragement, strength and fortitude.

My challenge to you is pray for your Pastor.  Ask him or her how you can best pray for their needs.  Ask them how you can encourage them and then just DO it!  I fully believe that only some are called to be Pastors.  I also fully believe they are simply as human as you and I.  I assume that they struggle with the day to day grind of life.  Perhaps they become discouraged and question their calling.  Let each of us do as the Word states in Hebrews 10:23-25 and “…let us consider how we may spur one another on…encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day (of judgement) approaching”. 

“Heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus bless all who are called to Pastor Your church.  Encourage and refresh our Pastors in the Name of Jesus.  Surround our Pastors with believers who will regularly ask to pray for them and who will encourage and build them up.  Give Your chosen Pastors an extra measure of Your Presence and Peace.  In Jesus’ Name lead our Pastors as they minister to Your church.  In the Name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.”

Kami R. Lobner

One Church

I sometimes wonder how many denominations out there profess Christianity.  I am no theologian, but I think Christianity is less about religious affiliation and more about Christ and following His ways.

My friend, DaNita, has mused over how much can be done for local communities when denominations work together.  Resources increase, talents within the body of Christ are multiplied and needs are met.  Instead of one church working to bring people into their building we see an assortment of denominations pooling their assets to help the community. 

I admire DaNita’s heart for serving others. I admire her desire to bring various denominations together to reach others where they are at.  I hear the passion in DaNita’s voice when she talks about churches who look beyond their four walls to see the bigger picture.  I believe that this is the church Christ intended.  One church with One head reaching out to those in need.

This church has at its core the One Who died to bring all to salvation.  Christ did not die only for the Roman Catholics, or the Evangelicals or the Protestants.  He died for them all and He died for every other denomination and individual on this earth.  I think that this is the church DaNita talks about.  This is the church whose focus is not on increasing numbers within denominations or buildings, but rather being intentional and working collectively to serve others. 

I believe in this church.  I believe that Jesus Christ died once and for all.  I think that this is how our God longs for us to live; not fighting over which religious affiliation is correct but loving everyone and serving others.  This is Who Christ was and is.  He is our Savior who exemplifies what being a servant is all about.  He is our example.  Imagine the difference we could make in this world when we choose to serve like Christ. 

“Heavenly Father I thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for the opportunity to serve others in the Name of Jesus.  I ask that our community of believers band together to meet the needs of the hurting and the lost.  I pray that our focus not only be on increasing attendance in churches, but that our focus also be on intentionally serving others where they are at. I ask these things in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.”

Rev 21:2          2Cor 11:2         1Cor 12:12       Mt 23:11         Rom 12:13       Rom 12:5

Kami R. Lobner                      

Void

I was experiencing self-pity this week.  I felt lonely and wanted someone to talk to and to spend time with.  My husband and I work opposite hours and time together can quickly get away from us.  I tried to make time with a friend, but we had conflicting schedules.  I spent more time alone this week than I usually do. It made me preoccupied with myself and my feelings.  Instead of using my “alone time” to fellowship with God, I wallowed in self-pity because I missed people.  I thought I had no one to talk to, when in fact God was just waiting patiently for me to spend time with Him. 

My introverted friends might not understand my loneliness in this situation.  I don’t really understand it myself.  God created me as I am; an extrovert who loves the company of others.  I do not think God made a mistake in His design.  I do believe I sometimes forget that His company is the most important.  I don’t “see” Him.  I don’t “hear” Him.  I can’t “hug” Him.  So, I look for someone I can see, or hear, or hug.  I sometimes look for human interaction over time with my Lord.  God knows this about me.  I am no surprise to Him.

Even though I am no surprise to Him, He continually surprises me.  I read from three different devotionals I have and God spoke the same thing to me through each one of them.  He reminded me that my pity and preoccupation with self were just distractions to keep my focus off of Him.  He reminded me that salvation is not the only thing found in Christ Jesus.  I was reminded in these devotionals that Jesus is the only One Who can truly fill the void in my heart.  My soul has this empty shape inside of it which can only be filled by His Presence. 

I wasted a few days this week being frustrated and sad.  I had more time alone than I usually do and I could have spent some of that time with God.  In the end, God revealed His wisdom and taught me something valuable.  He taught me to put Him first.  He reminded me that being a Christian involves more than just showing up on Sundays.  It means completely opening up and surrendering my life to Christ.  It means bending a knee in complete worship to the only One Who can truly fill the void in my life. 

My prayer is this, “Heavenly Father, thank You for who You created me to be.  Thank You for placing within each one of us a void which can only be filled by Your Presence.  Thank You, Jesus, for Your patience and Your gentle nudging as You guide me back into fellowship with You.  Thank You for the body of believers and the fellowship found within it.  Protect my mind and my emotions daily, Lord, as the Enemy tries to lure me into a pit of self-pity and loneliness.  Remind me, Father, to call out to You in praise and thanksgiving.  When I do, I trust Your Spirit to fill the void within my heart.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Hebrews 12:1-2                       Ps 86:7                         Acts 4:12

Kami R. Lobner

A Hotchy Potchy Friend

 Hotchy potchy was my Grandmother’s made up creation.  It was nothing fancy, but I loved to eat it.  The meal consisted of eggs over easy and homemade fried potatoes.  Oh, and the name came from mixing those two foods together in a big, hotchy potchy mess on my plate.  If the friends of my youth only knew what they were missing out on!  My adulthood friend, Mary, remembers me telling her about hotchy potchy.  She laughingly jokes about us needing to make some to eat.  Sounds good to me! 

In all seriousness, I was thinking of Mary today, as I do most days.  I miss her.  Thinking about Mary today made me think about how life can be “hotchy potchy” sometimes.  What I mean is, life can hand us multiple things which sometimes can get mixed up on our plates of life.  I have experienced this and I have seen Mary experience it, too.  We have both been served  plates of hotchy potchy by the Enemy.

Mary’s plate of hotchy potchy has been different than mine.  Most everyone’s is unique to them.  I have learned much from Mary, watching her sometimes deal with the same plate of hotchy potchy more than once.  Mary has not always cleaned up her plate perfectly, but who of us has? I have seen her plate piled high with hotchy potchy and by God’s grace and mercy she has wiped it clean and has come out stronger and healthier.  Was it easy for her? By no means.  Did she struggle? I’m going to guess that she did.  But, one of the MANY things I love and admire about Mary is her faith in God and her trust that Jesus Christ will always help her clean her plate. (1 Cor 10:12-13)

I am blessed and grateful that Mary has faithfully been by my side when life’s hotchy potchy messes have overwhelmed me.  I praise God that Mary never judges me.  I thank our Lord that through my repetitive hotchy potchy living Mary never gives up praying for me.  Mary reminds me that I am not alone.  She knows of her own humanness and struggles and she quickly informs me that she is in no position to cast stones.  I am able to say the same to her during her times of struggle.

How awesome is our Father God in providing  Christian friends to love, support and encourage us.  Mary is this kind of friend.  She is always there when I need to talk.  She is always willing to pray.  Mary encourages me and never tears me down.  Mary is my hotchy potchy friend; she reminds me I am not alone.  (Ecc 4:9) My prayer for you today is that God provides you with a hotchy potchy friend if He hasn’t already.  A hotchy potchy friend is a friend for life! (Jn 15:13)

Kami R. Lobner

Through the storm

Peter and the other disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  They were being buffeted by wind and waves when they saw a man walking upon the water.  At first, they were afraid. The Man said to them, “Do not be afraid, it is I”.  Peter stood and asked the Man to prove that He was Jesus and to command Peter to also walk upon the water.  Jesus told Peter to come.

I imagine Peter gingerly stepping out of the boat.  Perhaps, still holding on to the other disciples or the side of the boat, he finally lets go and to his amazement he is standing on the water.  Peter begins to walk toward Jesus.  I envision Peter picking up the pace with his heart pounding as he gets closer to Christ.  Suddenly, and for only a moment, Peter takes his eyes off Jesus to look at the waves.  It is then he begins to sink.  Peter cries out to Jesus to save him.  The Lord reaches out and grabs hold of Peter saying, “oh ye of little faith”.  Jesus lifts Peter up and together they walk to the boat.  As Jesus climbs in, the wind and waves cease.

What happened here?  Peter seemingly doubts that the figure on the water is Jesus, however, when Jesus tells Peter Who He is, Peter believes and takes a step of faith.  As Peter is walking through the storm, his eyes are fixed upon Jesus.  There is no wind which can blow Peter over and no wave to push him down.  There is only his Savior helping him navigate the storm.  Then, for a moment, Peter looks at his surroundings.  As he looks at the storm, he is no longer focused on the One Who was helping him, and he begins to sink.  Remembering Jesus, Peter regains his focus over the tribulation and cries out, again, for his Savior.  Jesus immediately responds and comes to Peter’s aid.  The two walk together and get into the boat.  But, it isn’t until Jesus steps foot inside the boat that the wind dies down and the waves stop crashing.

I see this story in my life.  I sometimes doubt that the Lord is there, in the storm of my life.  I cry out to Him and He says, “it is I”.  With renewed confidence in Him I begin to walk through the trial I am facing.  But, I become distracted.  I take my eyes off Christ and I begin to sink.  I need encouragement from my Christian family and friends, or to be reminded through my Pastor’s sermon, to focus upon my Lord and Savior.  When I do, Jesus is right there with me.  He is stepping into the boat I am in and He is calming my fears.  He is quieting the storm around me. 

It may take days, months or even years to get to the other side of a stormy sea. When Christ steps into the boat we are in, the turbulence of life is less daunting.  He knows we are “of little faith”, but when we place our seed of faith in Him anything is possible. 

Today, I encourage you to focus upon Jesus to get you through whatever storm you are facing.  He longs to walk with you through it.  He wants to climb into your boat and ride it out with you.  All you need to do is ask.

Matthew 14:28-32                             Luke 17:6                                Philippians 4:13

Kami R. Lobner