March 29, 2011

The Overall Plan

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future
Jeremiah 29:11

In the midst of my frequent divine appointments, I came to a realization. I did not however come to this on my own but instead through talking it out with a friend. 

I saw my divine appointments of a way in which I was being encouraged and hearing truth.  Some of those meetings were clearly those things but others have been something different.
I have spent months trusting God.  Knowing that He work all things for His glory and in His time, I have been able to release my circumstances to Him. I am learning that His will, His plan is so much different from mine.  He sees the entire picture where I am only able to see the here and now.
 
Daily I learn of new things being repeated about my situation.  Many which are lies or gossip.  My flesh would say to approach those that speak and correct their thinking.  Boy, how I would love to take that approach but instead, God says, “be still”.  So far, along this road, I have been able to do just that.  I have held my tongue and allowed God to be God and do the defending.  It does not mean that He has stepped down from heaven to stand in my corner to beat back those that would talk.  Instead, He is correcting many wrong things through His mysterious ways.  Each day as time passes, He places someone else in my path, someone I would never have expected to hear truth.  It is incredible.  It is God!

I have let go of my situation and instead took a hold of my daddy’s hand.  I am walking beside Him and allowing Him to lead the way for whatever is ahead.  I trust Him completely! I have no other choice at this point but even if my situation were not so dire, I would still trust Him.  He has revealed Himself in so many ways through this storm.  He has shown me through His word.  I am finding that I am gaining a new understanding on things I have read repeatedly in the past. His word is becoming fresh and new to me. His words are bringing me comfort and peace.  He has revealed Himself through godly people in my life.  I have heard many great teachings that have led me to further evaluation of myself.  Many teachings have confirmed truth that I felt was true but had been led to doubt. 

Divine appointments happen every day.  You know when you have had one because you leave changed and encouraged. Sometimes those appointments are for a much bigger purpose.  Something more than my mind can fathom but all part of God’s huge plan.  I am learning to step out of the box and recognize that He is up to something and these moments that may seem small to me are possibly huge moves in His overall plan.

March 26, 2011

Love like no other

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14

Divine appointments have been taking place quite often over the past couple of months.  God continually places those in my path to confirm His truth and strengthen my faith.
Several weeks ago, I was completing a mystery shop at a local fast food restaurant.  My kids were outside playing on the play set and I was dealing with doubt and discouragement.  I had arrived at yet another place where Satan was using someone to bring me down by scaring me yet again.  As usual, it worked and left me feeling hopeless.
I walked outside to collect my kids, ready to go home and climb into bed.  A man holding a five-month-old little boy greeted me.  The man looked at me and said “welcome to the family”.  He went on to say that our children had been playing and we were all now family.  I looked around and saw my three younger ones plus seven others running around.  One of his little girls walked over to me, introduced herself and shook my hand.  I was in love.  She was beautiful.  I looked at the man and asked if all the children were his?  He said yes.  He and his wife have nine children, two biological and seven adopted.  I was moved to tears.  I have always wanted to adopt.  There is such an empty place in my heart for the child/children that I know that God has out there for me.  It has been a LONG time since I have thought about adoption but immediately God brought it to my heart again. I was overcome with love for these children I did not even know. 
Moments later, his wife joined us outside and the two of us began talking. She began sharing with me about her children and her faith.  I was so encouraged.  As she was sharing, things she said pierced my heart.  She was speaking to places in which I was hurting so much at that moment.  I realized that God was speaking through her.  He was using her voice to convey audibly His truth to my heart when I needed it the most.  From there I opened up and began pouring out my story.  It was one of the first times I had shared the details of what was taking place in my life.  As I talked, she listened.  She held my hand and at times cried with me.  She then went on to say that, her sister had experienced the exact same situation within her own marriage.  I cried. When you are dealing with storms, you often feel like you are the only person in the world dealing with that situation and that no one else could ever understand.  In that moment, God used this incredible woman to speak to me, to encourage me and to bring me comfort. 
As we were sitting there, the husband passed me the little baby boy.  I sat and held him while tears streamed down my face.  I loved this little boy that I did not even know.  He looked up at me with his big beautiful brown eyes and I knew immediately that God had so much more planned for my life.  I have spent a year being told that I am an unfit mom.  As a mom, nothing could hurt more.  When you hear it, you cannot help but doubt yourself and everything that you thought that you were up to that point.  God used that beautiful little boy to remind me of what my purpose is right now and that is being a mom.  He reassured me in that moment that I am an amazing mom and He still has great plans for me.  I experienced a peace and comfort that night that I had not experienced in the two years of this ordeal that has been taking place.
Since that night, I have had several more divine appointments that I look forward to sharing with you over the next few days. 

March 23, 2011

Not the Victim

Colossians 1:22-23, "...he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it." 

Galatians 5:1,4, "So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law... For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace."

I have spent months writing about what God has shown me.  As I read some of my writings, I realized that sometimes what I want to convey just isn’t there.  I hear in my head what I want to say and I know in my heart what I’m learning but it doesn’t always translate the way I would want.

God is working wonders in my life.  I am changing daily and growing stronger in Him but all of this started with God getting a hold of my heart and setting me back on solid ground. 

As I have gone through the past few years of my life, I have encountered many trials.  Some I have come through with great success while other times, I have fallen flat on my face.  I am not perfect, have never claimed to be, and have many flaws but that is where God steps in and begins to work.

When we fall into sin or experience a difficult trial, we reach a place where we cannot hold on any longer and we have to release control to God.  It is then that He begins to reveal our flaws and sinful ways.  He brings them to the surface.  Not to condemn but to correct and to make us more like Him.  It is a process but God has brought to light the areas of my life that are strongholds.  Areas that I need to work on in order to be more like Him and less like the world.  I am learning to surrender daily and remember my First Love.


The enemy is constantly attacking and condemning.  He is quick to remind me of my past and all of our failures.  He uses people around me to accuse and remind but I must not become distracted.  Those types of things take my focus off of God and the price that Christ paid for my sins.  When that happens my focus is placed back on myself, which leads me right back into sin.  The pattern is simple and easy to fall into and Satan knows this very thing. He has great success in this way.


Here is what I have learned.  I have made mistakes.  I have sinned.  I have repented of my sin. I have been forgiven of my sin.  I now choose to move forward, surrender my life to God and serve Him.


I have been through a lot.  I am not a victim.  I refuse to be the victim.  I do not want to be weak and will admit my failures. I am suffering consequences of my own choices as well as choices of others in my life but I am choosing to advance down the path that God has laid out before me.  I want to reflect THE light for others who have found themselves in a dark place.  I want to use my experiences to share with others what God has done in my life and what He can do in theirs as well.


From here forward, I want to be the friend that stays.  I have learned much over the course of my journey.  I have learned to love the unlovable.  Forgive the unforgiveable.  Cherish those that have done evil.  See those that are evil as children of God. Friends have failed me through my darkest days. They didn't understand my choices. They couldn’t endorse my actions. They chose to walk away, not physically but withdrew their availability to me and shut themselves up into a safe box where they were able to avoid my situation. It was painful and it still hurts but God is using it in my life.  He is teaching me to love and not condemn.  He is teaching me to speak the truth in love not in judgment.  He is teaching me to stay and be there when the world says walk away. He is teaching me to stay through the conflict.  To stay through the struggles.  To stay through the suffering.  To stay through the discomfort.  To stay through the misunderstandings.  He is beginning to weave His character into mine and I am becoming more like Him.


Because of His great love, His great mercy and His great forgiveness I am usable despite my failures.  That is how awesome and amazing God is and He offers it to everyone who comes to Him. 


There is no condemnation when Christ is within us.


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2  


March 22, 2011

Counterfeit Christians


"But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Jeremiah 17:7-8



No you are not seeing things, I did write about this yesterday but I needed the reminder today. I opened up my devotionals this evening and found this from Greg Laurie. It was really helpful and just what I needed. It is all about God's timing. WOW!!


 

Here is another story Jesus told: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away."

Even back in the apostle Paul's day, there were counterfeit Christians. He wrote to the church at Corinth, "I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not" (2 Corinthians 11:26). There are a lot of people today who are putting on a great performance, but it is not genuine. It is not real. They are posers.

In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares found in Matthew 13, Jesus talked about people like these—genuine imitations. Jesus was not referring to struggling believers, but to phonies. He was talking about actors. And in this parable, He exposed one of the ways in which the devil works. Specifically it is one of the ways the devil will be working in the end times: through imitation.

This parable mentions two sowings. The first is by a farmer who sows seed in his field, hoping for a good crop. The second sowing is done by an enemy who plants tares, or weeds, right next to what the farmer just sowed, with the purpose of uprooting the good seed. A tare was a darnel seed that initially looked like wheat. But it is not until it is fully grown that it becomes evident that it is not wheat at all.

There are counterfeit Christians today, just as there were in the first century. Yet it will be up to God to ultimately decide who they are. In that final day, He will determine whether someone is the Christian they profess to be.


 

Greg Laurie

March 21, 2011

With all my heart


"But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Jeremiah 17:7-8

You know when those moments come where you feel totally helpless and life seems out of control? Those moments used to come a lot for me but as more time has passed, I am finding myself much stronger.

First, let me clarify that the strength that I've found is nothing I have done on my own. My strength comes from a much greater source and is more powerful than anything that I could accomplish.

I have learned to seek God with all of my heart. Thus the change in the title (for those who noticed) for my blog. It doesn't mean that I always get it right but I am learning to seek His voice, His truth above the noise. In order to align myself with Him, which is still my goal, I have to seek Him first with all my heart and surrender all of myself to Him.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 has always been a special verse to me but over the past year, it has been even more significant in my life. It has brought me a great amount of courage and comfort more than once and served as a reminder that God has a plan for my life if I choose to listen.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Now taking it back a few chapters, we see a very different side. When our strength comes from man, we are cursed.  When our heart is turned away from God and towards ourselves, we become "like a bush in the wasteland". We wither, dry up and die.

This is what the LORD says:

   "Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
   who draws strength from mere flesh
   and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
   they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
   in a salt land where no one lives.

Jeremiah 17:1-6

Skip down a few verses and we are told that God examines our hearts and minds. He knows us inside and out. Though we may be able to fool those around us, we cannot fool God. He sees our deeds and hears our words and He rewards us accordingly. No one else can reward us. No one else has that kind of power. All good things come from God and God alone.

The heart is deceitful above all things
   and beyond cure.
   Who can understand it?

 10 "I the LORD search the heart
   and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
   according to what their deeds deserve."

Jeremiah 17:9-10

We are told that those who trust in the Lord are blessed. Those whose confidence is solely in God will find contentment and peace. That is where my strength is found. My heart and mind are rooted in His truth and His promises. I have no reason to fear when the storms or droughts find their way into my life because my roots run deep. They run into the spring of Living Water.

7 "But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
   whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit."

Jeremiah 17:7-8



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March 20, 2011

Not by sight


1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

Hebrews 11:1-3

I WANT to live a life of faith! I do NOT want to live a predictable and safe religious life. I DO NOT want to be that person who goes to church, does good things, says the right things and makes decisions based on what makes sense. That is NOT the life that I want to live!

I want a life that SCREAMS to the world, that I walk by faith. That I trust God completely! What does that mean exactly? Living by faith is saying yes to those things that just do not make any sense. It is having an intimate relationship with God where I am able to recognize His voice above the noise. Noise being EVERYTHING else but God's voice. Now how do I get there?

"Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance is what we do not see". Faith is being confident in the character of God to do what He promises He will do. Hope is the assurance of being confident in God's character. To walk by faith, to live by faith, I have to say "yes" even if I cannot see what I am saying "yes" to at the moment. I have to stop looking at my circumstances and look at who God is. It is trusting Him and not the circumstances of life. It is remembering that He knows all things from beginning to end. Nothing surprises Him. NOTHING!!

When God gives me a vision, I have to walk in the reality of it, trusting in Him. I have to release all control and surrender every part of myself to Him. As long as I remain desperate, I will depend on Him. There is no desperation when I hold all the cards and I choose the direction I will go. I have to trade in the control in order to experience freedom, fulfillment and purpose in my life. Faith is about SURRENDER!!

Back in the 90's, this song by Clay Crosse was one of my very favorites. I did not understand then what I do now about surrender and this morning, when God brought this song to mind, I experienced its meaning and a brand new way. God is up to something and I wait with anticipation for what comes next J

I Surrender All

I have wrestled in the darkness of this lonely pilgrim land
Raising strong and mighty fortresses that I alone command
But these castles I've constructed by the strength of my own hand
Are just temporary kingdoms on foundations made of sand

In the middle of the battle I believe I've finally found
I'll never know the thrill of victory 'til I'm willing to lay down
All my weapons of defense and earthly strategies of war
So I'm laying down my arms and running helplessly to Yours

I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires
That all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all

If the source of my ambition is the treasure I obtain
If I measure my successes on a scale of earthly gain
If the focus of my vision is the status I attain
My accomplishments are worthless and my efforts are in vain

So I lay aside these trophies to pursue a higher crown
And should You choose somehow to use the life I willingly lay
down
I surrender all the triumph for it's only by Your grace
I relinquish all the glory, I surrender all the praise

Everything I am, all I've done, and all I've known
Now belongs to You, the life I live is not my own
Just as Abraham laid Isaac on the sacrificial fire
If all I have is all that You desire
I surrender all

Really? Today Lord?

 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

Matthew 5:43-45


 

I woke up this morning to find that the above passage from Matthew was my verse for the day. Uggghhh. Sometimes I really despise mornings like this one. Mornings where God is trying to make a point and making sure that I hear Him loud and clear. There He is reminding me that I am not the only one that He loves and provides for daily. He loves my enemies as well. He allows His sun to shine down on the evil and warm their faces just as He does for me. He gives water to the evil and provides for their thirst just as He does for me.

Love my enemies? Really?? Today? I know I have been slacking and I will be honest and admit to you all, that I have not in fact been praying for my enemies. In fact, lately I have pushed them to the back of my mind and tried avoiding them all together. That is the honest truth. That is not acceptable. I want to love as God has called me to love and in order to do so; I must pray for those that I dislike. My list is long at the moment but I will submit and surrender. It will not harm me and truth be told, I know that I will be blessed in doing so. Here I go…..


 

March 16, 2011

Of the world?

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Philippians 2:1-4


 

One of the lessons I am learning now, is how to hear God's voice above the chaos. This has been an ongoing process for me but He has really been working in me over the past couple of weeks to teach me this lesson specifically.

This lesson is one that I have been struggling with for quite some time and have shared struggle on numerous occasions. I have a habit of allowing people to lead me to doubt what I truly feel God has placed on my heart.

There hasn't been a magical moment where suddenly I recognize His voice over all others. Instead, I can test my thoughts to see if they are true.

My purpose in life is to pursue Christ. I am to imitate Him in all ways. When dealing with situations, I need to line my thoughts and actions up with what He would have done in my place. If anything I do or say is un-Christ like, then I can be more than confident that it did NOT come from God.

James 3:14-17 tells me what I need to do in order to imitate Christ.

"But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."

This passage makes it clear to me that Godly wisdom cannot spring forth from bitter envy or selfish ambition. If I am feeling led to do anything for my own gain, it is NOT from God.

  • I must ask myself these questions:
  • Is my thought pure? If it is not, it did not come from God.
  • It is bringing forth peace and love? If an idea has truly come from God, it will bring about reconciliation and not conflict.
  • It is considerate? Nothing that would harm someone else in order to benefit myself is from God.
  • Is it submissive? If is something I am willing to bring before other people? Something where I am asking for input. If not and I am trying to "hide" something, it did not come from God.
  • Does it show mercy? Godliness is that of grace and forgiveness. It is not critical and judgmental.
  • Is it sincere? An idea from God will NOT be used to manipulate other people to get our own way.

If what I feel God is showing me or leading me to do does not match up with that list of questions, then I can be confident that it is coming from some place dark.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

Philippians 2:14-15

When Christ lives in us, His love and power works through us. Our life looks different that of the "world" around us. What do your actions say about your walk with God?

March 13, 2011

Real or Imposter?

 15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

Matthew 7:15-20

We will be known by our fruit. What exactly does that mean? How will we be known by man as being a true Christ Follower rather than a false prophet?

Does knowing scripture or attending church make us true Christ Followers? Can quoting scripture or leading worship make us a true Christ Follower? Does being at church every Sunday or every time the doors are open, make us a true Christ Follower?

Jesus said it best, "By their fruit you will recognize them." Simply put and easy to comprehend. No hidden meaning just simple truth.

In Galatians, our fruit is described as that of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which is given to us by the Holy Spirit. When we receive Christ into our lives, The Holy Spirit takes residence within us and when we give Him control, He lives through us.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."

Galatians 5:22-25

When we are living our lives with Christ on the throne, we radiate and reflect the fruit of God's spirit. His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness and His self-control flow through us. They are not things we do on our own but are instead a response of His living within us.

When we interact with people, what do they see? What fruit do they recognize, if any? Are you wearing "sheep's clothing" and pretending to be something that you are not. There are many imposters out there but they are easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. Galatians has that answer for you as well.

"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

Galatians 5:19-21

Just because someone can quote scripture or lead worship, does not make them true Christ Followers. Even the devil can quote scripture.

5 "Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:

   "'He will command his angels concerning you, 
   and they will lift you up in their hands, 
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone"

Matthew 4:5-6

An imposter is easy to spot because the life they live is not one lived in the Spirit. When the fruit of the Spirit lives within us, we have a love that is full of joy, patience and kindness. We have a joy that is unspeakable no matter what our circumstances. We have a peace in our lives that passes all understanding and only comes from a walk with God. We have patience with those around us. Our kindness speaks of our disposition. Our goodness speaks of our words and actions. Our faithfulness, gentleness and self-control speak of who we are as people.

Those are things that God looks for in each one of us. Those are the things that set us apart from the rest of the world and the imposters. When God is in us, our character and conduct changes and we become a reflection of Him.

March 11, 2011

Two Funerals, One Wedding


“Husbands, Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
Ephesians 5:25

Do you know what most marriages need? Two funerals and one wedding where both the husband and the wife die to themselves and come alive to Jesus Christ.

You see, when a man loves his wife passionately, there’s nothing too precious for that man to give up for his wife, except his relationship to Almighty God.

When there’s that kind of love shown to a woman, I dare say the topic of submission would not be an issue. Most women don’t mind submitting to a man who loves her enough to die for her and shows it by the way he lives for her.

Are you married? Then go on a date this week with your spouse. Are you single? Pray that God would prepare you to be the spouse your mate will need.

Adrian Rogers
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March 10, 2011

Divine Appointment

I hung out with a friend last night. A friend that I have not seen in almost a year and because of recent circumstances, I was hesitant to do so but God had something different in mind. For months, He had put this person on my heart. I could not let go of her. I could not get her out of my mind. I would dream about her or see something and it would remind me of her. I even began twirling my hair (which is something that I have NEVER done) just like she does. It was weird.

Truthfully, it was not weird, it was God and I recognize that. How many times in our lives has God placed someone on our heart and we might say a quick prayer and move on or do nothing at all? I know I have been guilty of that very thing more than once in my life. Not this time. I began sending messages. I made it clear that I would not give up on her as others had given up on me. I would choose to be obedient, choosing to love and forgive her.

I woke up yesterday with all of the symptoms of the flu. My body was aching, my head hurting and I felt like death. I will admit that meeting her was not on the forefront of my mind when I woke up but half way through the day, it hit me. I felt like I was dying. I did NOT want to leave the house. I wanted to stay in my bed and sleep. I then felt that oh so gentle tugging in my heart. I knew God wanted me to go. I knew I had to go. I went.

Thank you God for your amazing love and forgiveness. Thank you for the gift of Your Spirit that allows us to love and forgive as You have loved and forgiven. Open wounds are now beginning to heal. What does God have for me next?


 

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

1 Peter 4:8


 

 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Luke 6:37

March 8, 2011

Godly Sorrows

He drank off the full cup of unmixed wrath for us; shall we then refuse to taste of the cup of affliction at his appointment, especially when his wisdom and love prepare it for us, and proportion every circumstance to our strength; when He put it into our hands, not in anger but in tender mercy, to do us good, to bring us near to himself; and when He sweetens every bitter draught with those comforts which none but He can give? Let us rather say, None of these things move us, neither do we count anything on this side of eternity dear, so that we may finish our course with joy and run with patience the race which is set before us. (Letters Of John Newton, pg. 50)
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March 7, 2011

It Is Well

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Refrain


It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.


Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


Refrain


My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


Refrain


For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.


Refrain


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


Refrain


And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.


Refrain


Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford, 1873.





March 2, 2011

Smoldering…

 A bruised reed he will not break, 
   and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, 
till he has brought justice through to victory. 
 21 In his name the nations will put their hope."

Matthew 12:20

What is a bruised reed? What could be more fragile? Are you a bruised and feeling broken?

Have you been bruised by someone's harsh words? A friend's anger? The betrayal of your spouse? Have your own failures left you feeling bruised?

This world has a special place for the bruised and broken, the beaten. If it had its way, the world would break you off, snuff you out and never look back.

There is hope. There is a Creator who is the friend of the wounded heart and the keeper of our dreams. He heals the broken reed and ignites the smoldering flame.

Jesus often addressed the brokenhearted. 'Come to me if you are desperate because only desperate men and women are willing to suffer for my cause.' (Matthew 11:28-30) He understood those dark places. He knew what it was to be beaten and bruised. The cross did not just happen to Jesus. It was His purpose. It is why He came to earth. Our trials and suffering just do not randomly happen to us. Instead, God uses them to fulfill His purpose for our life.

Often times we are caught off guard by the surprises of life. Those moments remind us of our human frailty and our inability to control our circumstances and details of our life.

God is never caught off guard. He is never surprised at any disaster that falls upon us. Sudden tragedy does not surprise Him. He is never at a loss on how to solve a problem. God knows all His works from the beginning to the end of the world. For this reason, God is our rock solid assurance in the midst of life shattering disasters.

"Never will I leave you; 
   never will I forsake you."[
a]

 6 So we say with confidence,

   "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. 
   What can mere mortals do to me?"

Hebrews 13:5-6

9" But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

2 Corinthians 12:9

2"8 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28

"because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance".

James 1:3

When we find ourselves in the middle of a storm or dealing with suffering, we must cling to God's truth. We must remember that He is never surprised by anything in our lives. We do not suffer outside of the sovereignty of God.

When we feel beaten and bruised, we must remember that God has our best interests at heart. Suffering and rejection come so that we may learn to trust obediently. Our trials are a necessity used by God to squeeze those things (sin) out of us that we might otherwise excuse or even ignore.

In our moments of pain or disappointment, turn to the God who is never disappointed or surprised. Be assured that He is touched by your feelings of frailty. Find rest in Him. Trust that He is shaping you and growing your faith.

Don't be distracted by your suffering. Instead, walk obediently and allow it to drive you deeper into the heart of God. Though you may not be able to see the work of God's hand, choose to place your faith in His loving goodness.


 

 
 

Perversity

"Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies."

Psalm 141:3-4 


 

"I said, "I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me."

Psalm 3:1 

"6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

James 3:6

Our speech can be a clear indication as to our spiritual maturity. What does your speech say about you? Are you known as someone whose words are filled with encouragement? With love? With grace? On the other hand, are you someone who is known as a gossip? One who speaks lies? One who is negative?

The bible is full of scripture in regards to our tongue and how our words reflect the condition of our heart. We can tell where our words come from by the results of their actions.
James 3:15-16 says,
5 " Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." Whatever comes from our mouth that produces those previous things, are not prompted by God, which means that we are not walking in the Spirit but instead the flesh.

Our hearts are reflected by the words we speak. Our words are a window into our soul and can show the byproducts of an un-regenerated heart: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Matthew 12:34

  • A heart that curses:

His mouth is full of lies and threats; 
   trouble and evil are under his tongue.

Psalm 10:7

  • A heart full of hatred

With words of hatred they surround me; 
   they attack me without cause.

Psalm 109:3

  • A perverse heart

A troublemaker and a villain, 
   who goes about with a corrupt mouth

Proverbs 6:12

  • A heart that lies

 The LORD detests lying lips, 
   but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

Proverbs 12:22

  • A heart that is foolish

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, 
   but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

Proverbs 15:2

  • A heart that is evil

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, 
   but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

Proverbs 15:28

  • A heart that gossip and slanders

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32

  • A heart that is corrupt

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29


 

God makes it very clear that we are not to lie.


"Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds" Colossians 3:9

Our human mind knows no end to its creativity when it comes to rationalizing our behavior. This capacity increases when we create more deception and lies.

When we slander, we choose to lie about someone's character or actions.  Thomas Watson the Puritan divine wrote- "The scorpion carries his poison in his tail, the slanderer carries his in his tongue". Proclaimed Christ Followers are guilty when it comes to the willingness to share evil reports of other believers. God says that we are not to speak evil unless we are in the process of edifying the person themself! "Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it." James 4:11

When we gossip, we damage the reputation of the one in which we speak of, whether what we choose to share is true or untrue. Quite often by the time we go to repeat our gossip, what finally slips from our mouth are mixed up words that are untrue.

A perverse person stirs up conflict, 
   and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, 
   but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9

Without wood a fire goes out; 
   without a gossip a quarrel dies down. Proverbs 26:20

We can be careless with our words. It may not mean that we deliberately lie but instead are not speaking with absolute accuracy.

We can even use true words in order to deceive others. We speak something true that is a jab at someone else. Example being a first mate had been disciplined by his captain. A few days later the shipmate was able to exact his revenge when the captain became ill and the first mate assumed the duties as captain. When keeping the ships log, he began his entry with "Captain sober today". Though it may be true, what is being implied?

We can also insinuate. This is one that Satan loves. It is where we plant an idea in someone's head. "Is she really that smart?" "Why would she do that?" Insinuating questions are slippery libels on others. Those who are being attacked are completely defenseless and their attacker, unassailable (but only in this world).

We can avoid being used by the devil when we make certain that our words are made up of absolute purity, peaceable responses, gentle and kind words, words that do not slam others but instead are willing to yield and are full of mercy.

Psalm 141:3-4 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies. God's desire is for each of us to make Psalm 141:3-4 a habit. That we think before we speak and that we guard our tongues.

We should desire to have communication that is pleasing to God. As Christ Followers, the words we speak should indicate whom we follow. We must start by asking ourselves before we speak, are these words true or false? Are they accurate? Have I exaggerated? Are they healing or hurting? Am I grateful or am I complaining?

Next we should talk less. "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11
Put a gate on your tongue. Allow God to clean your mouth so that it may be used for communicating in a healthy way.

"Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

"I will consider all your works 
   and meditate on all your mighty deeds."Psalm 77:12

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; 
   my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. 
My heart leaps for joy, 
   and with my song I praise him."

Psalm 28:7

 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Ephesians 4:29

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

1Peter 3:9

What will the words you speak say about you today?