No Longer Condemned

No Longer Condemned

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The enemy of all mankind will use just about any bat handed to him. He is aggressive and ruthless in his attack against humanity. He hates people. So when given the opportunity to remind us of faults, failures and shortcomings – he capitalizes completely. Given our inability to earn salvation or restore our relationship with God outside of Christ creates a vulnerability to these tactics. Shame and regret are his biggest enforcers of our insecurity and inability to own our new relationship with God through His Son. We are no longer condemned but empowered by God’s Grace to become new creations. If only we could see the Gloriousness of God and His Goodness concerning us to silence the lie of the enemy in our life.

God doesn’t wait with a huge sledgehammer to smash us when we sin. In fact, our sin grieves God. His Hate for sin doesn’t extend to the offenders. He only hates sin not those who live in it. Unconditional love is probably the greatest love of all and easiest to maintain if our heart would only receive it and our head able to conceive it. Hurt and betrayal harden our heart to such a thing in light of our own broken emotions. This limits the Body of Christ in fully filling each position. It hinders the Kingdom coming to earth in disbelief. God wants to break the stronghold of condemnation over your life. Whether promoted by religion or simply a lack of knowledge. He wants to break through this barrier and free you from this hindrance in your life. God is good. He wants His Glory to fill us to overflowing…despite what we may think of ourselves?

John 3:18-20 (NKJV) “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

Why does God love me? How do I know that He does? How can I be sure? Well, the Word of God tells us that God is love (I John 4:8) and He first loved us (I John 4:19)! God’s Word is the credibility of my faith and the logic that I must live by to successfully overcome every lie introduced by the enemy. I must believe God’s Word is for me and about me. I must allow His Spirit to sow the Word in my heart so it will become the wisdom of my life. Jesus is the Word of God who came wrapped in flesh to demonstrate God’s Love and Desire for me. (John 1:14) The Love of God for mankind is who He is. We cannot make God love us because He already does. His Mercy each day delivered to everyone regardless of what they believe and how they live is evidence that His Love will stop at nothing to apprehend us.

The only condemnation is disbelief. To refuse the Love of God given in His Son Jesus Christ is the only condemnation possible for people. When presented with the Light of His Love, yet they choose darkness rather than light. Aha! Said all the religious people with a Pharisee-spirit in them. No this does not mean that sinners are condemned but rather those who do not desire a relationship with God. The application of grace does not mean that a person is no longer a sinner just forgiven. Doing some things right (or religiously) does not promote you to a higher level in God. In fact, the more humble the person the closer to God. Those who reject His Love. This is very different that feeling unworthy or insignificant. There are a whole lot of people in the world who entered our churches and rather than experiencing the selfless and unconditional love of God – they were condemned by Christians and wandered empty and helplessly back into the darkness. Shame on us for putting a higher price on our love than God puts on His Love. He stops at nothing to make a way for us to enter right standing and promote a restored relationship with even the most violent offender.

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This is one of the most known verses in the Word of God. God loved us. He sent His Son to save us. But there is more to the story that is relevant and true. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The purpose of Christ was not two-fold. He did not come to save some and condemn others. God is never double-minded. Jesus came that the world might be saved and have everlasting life. There is no condemnation in Christ today. If you feel condemned, it is not from God. God is love! His Mercy is new every morning. He loved you first. He loves you the most. His Grace is enough to gain access to every blessing and experience His Glory in your life. You don’t have to do everything right just love His Son and believe in Him for salvation. A brand new life as a new creation is only accessible through Christ. He gives it to us with a helper that will help us in our weakness. Take knowledge and turn into wisdom. There is no sin insurmountable to an ounce of Christ’s Precious Blood – you are not condemned but made alive again. Resurrection life and power are working its way through you to make its way out of you. Put down the big bat of condemnation, shame, guilt or any other lie that the enemy handed you today. You have a purpose and plan designed for you by the Hand of God. The whole point is that you will know His Love. Gird yourself in the Truth that God loves you. Jesus died for you! His Grace is enough for you! You are alive again! Now walk in that freedom! Live in His Glory! He is for you! Never ever not once against you! Jesus is Our Champion – claim your victory today!

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In the Weeds

IN the Weeds

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Hate is a learned behavior born of insecurity and fear. As believers, the only real and true enemy is satan. Children are born with hearts of acceptance. They do not understand the inherent dangers in life and so God gives them parents to love and protect them. Being of an imperfect nature, it is easy for us to teach our children the morals and ethics of our life molded by our experience rather an encounter with God’s Love. Jesus says, “Love your enemies” and “bless those who curse you”. As if that is not enough, we are to pray for those who spitefully or intentionally use us and even those who persecute us becoming a thorn in soft flesh. Why? So we may be Kingdom Kids who live in alignment with their Father and His Kingdom. Tough one. High calling for sure.

How do we love the people who abuse, betray, hurt, and use us? Where do we find the capacity to ward off offenses, ignore bad intentions, and keep the penetrating darts of gossip and slander penetrate a heart softening in the Hand of God? God doesn’t allow us to ignore them. We are to love them. Pray for them. Accept them with forgiveness no matter how many times they continually mistreat us. I know what you are thinking today. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Or maybe, it’s God doesn’t want me to be anyone’s doormat. The all-time best is I can forgive them but it doesn’t mean I have to let them hurt me again. Well…

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Evil is not a character trait of human beings. People are born with eternity in every heart. Each given a measure of faith like seeds to sow in life. Everyone. Even the person who is causing you pain and strife. God loves and desires them just as He does you. Evil is cultivated from sin and sinful desires that take over but are like a sickness or disease that can be removed by the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ. Which means every person has potential and God is constantly showering all of us with “fresh rain” in the hope that faith would grow and eternity would break through the hardest of hearts growing into a fruitful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NKJV) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Peter asked the pointed question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” I wonder if we ask the Lord the same question. The answer is more than anyone can conceive in the natural. True forgiveness as God forgives us is born of grace. Grace is enough. God’s Grace given to us is the river from which our ability to accept apologies and restore relationships come from. When our expectation is in the Lord, it becomes our profound privilege to extend to others the same grace that has been given to us. I didn’t say it was easy only that it is possible. The Kingdom of God is all about relationship. Not only a right relationship with God but all of His People even those still living in sin and darkness.

True love is unconditional. True love waits while others catch on or catch up. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Is this truly the kind of love that is required of Children of God in every situation? Yes…it is. The model of prayer presented by Jesus to His Disciples does not suggest it but requires it in order to be forgiven and fully accepting God’s Grace. God will not give us anything that does not promote generosity in us. Seed reproduces. Good seed produces a harvest of good deeds that give honor and glory to God. Love is the greatest of the Fruit of His Spirit and the first step in achieving our purpose in the Lord and prospering in this life.

Matthew 13:24-30 (NKJV) Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

We must sow good seed in our life. Seed produces of the Holy Spirit and not unmet expectation. The Kingdom is comprised of men and women who as daily disciples strive to sow and grow godliness in their life. Any seed not of God is produced from fear, insecurity and doubt that God’s Power is enough and His Authority somehow compromised. It is human nature to experience such emotions. It is the Power of God working in each one of us to remove them.

The enemy will constantly sow weeds in our field. He is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy every good thing that the Lord is producing in our life. He is methodical in his approach. Ruthless in every attack. There is no compassion for his victim. We are God’s People who live in His Love and Compassion for others. His Directive is clear. We are not to uproot the weeds. It is not our job to kill them. We grow right along with them. Why? It is God’s Eternal Hope that one day the rain will touch their heart and the seed of faith and promise of eternity will grow from within in them as it does in you.

John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I have recently been studying the differences between followers of Jesus and disciples of Jesus. There is a marked difference. Followers are led by their feelings and disciples are led by their future. Public opinion can influence the objective of a follower and offense cause them to be distracted and detoured in life. If you desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, love must be the premise of your life. Not just any kind of love, but the love received from the Father through the Son. Love that sacrifices its feelings for a future hope far greater them temporary circumstances. A fruitful life that continues to cultivate grace when surrounded by weeds. The kind of life that does not walk by sight but faith continually overcoming daily assaults and attacks by the enemy in an effort to kill our faith by producing fear, anxiety, worry and the worst of them insecurity. Love is relational. To love requires interaction. It is the overwhelming compassion of Jesus Christ who tells us to there is no great love than to lay our life down for a friend. To be a friend to all who are around us unaffected by their inability to show love and kindness in return. The only root to be removed is bitterness. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are my disciple, if you have love for one another.

I will be honest this is a challenge for me with a handful of people. I am not speaking from a place of innocence but a daily struggle to love others including those who don’t love me. Those who have hurt me. Those who talk about me. I do so with this promise from the Lord – perfect love casts out all fear. God’s Love for me is enough. His Grace is sufficient for me. I must accept His Love and Grace in full measure to extend it to those around me and be His Disciple.

I John 4:17-19 (NKJV) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.

Mercy Triumphs

mercy-triumphs-over-judgment

Lamentations 3:22-26 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.

“You delight in showing mercy…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Mercy by Bethel Music has been set on replay the last few days. God delights in showing us mercy so much so that He gives us new mercy and a fresh start every day without fail. The next verse yields the secret to God’s Mercy. “My past embraced…My sin forgiven.” The certainty of God’s Grace is full acceptance of His Mercy. To wake each morning believing that His Grace is enough for you releases everyone and everything from your expectation. It means that all the wrongs, hurts, offenses and failures of the day before fall off in waves of grace as His New Mercy covers us. “I’m blameless in Your Sight…My history rewritten.” Do you believe that God’s Grace is enough for you today? I am challenged daily with pride that tells me I deserve better than how I am treated and that I have earned more than I have. Faith must overcome such rebellious thoughts to be reminded with each new day and His Gift of Mercy that Jesus is all that I need to share His Mercy with others.

Do you delight in showing mercy? What is your response to hurt, rejection, or offense? Is it immediate forgiveness? Yeah, me either. If you feel left out, slighted or ignored? Do you press in or move away? If you become angry, do you lash out? Do you fight for what is yours? Does love mean more than being right? See God is love and He is filled with unfailing love and compassion for people. Are you? Am I? God’s Faithfulness is enough to complete our life and bring us into full completion and absolute satisfaction. This requires putting all of our expectation in Christ alone. Releasing others from fulfilling our wants, needs and desires. Placing our complete and absolute total trust in Jesus Christ believing that His Grace is sufficient for me.

What is mercy? Mercy is compassionate and kind forbearance shown toward an offender or enemy. It is to maintain a disposition of loving forgiveness. It is also the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone. God’s Mercy is kindness, compassion and favor. The very qualities that people desire but are often reluctant to give. Feelings and emotions are powerful driving forces in people that will take years of learning to lean on, trust in and depend on the Lord to overcome. The human heart is held together by soul ties. Connections that must be cut and grafted into Jesus Christ (the Vine) in order to overcome to be free to love and be loved. God’s Love is unconditional. To live in His Love our love must reflect His Love. This is full acceptance of Grace when it is enough so we can give it to others..

Lamentations 3:17-21 (NLT) Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this…

Many who read this will immediately have an image in their head of the event or trauma in life that left a mark so deep that a scar has formed on your heart. For some, there is only a festering wound. Constantly poked and prodded by the enemy who uses people as his pawns, whispering lies like “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” to cause division, strife, and bitterness. Has your peace been stripped away? Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Have you been in living in a “barren, dry” land? Nothing is going right, nobody can help, and misery accompanies you day and night? He is our Provider. He is the Bread of Life. Jesus is Living Water for thirsty souls. Do you feel like everything you hoped for is lost and every dream dead in a valley of dry bones? Hope is the anchor for our soul. It keeps us trusting and believing when everything falls apart in our life. Without hope, there is nothing to have faith in anymore. Have you decided that you will “never” forget this awful time? Does it feel that your life will be forever marked by sadness, grief and sorrow? “Yet I dare to hope when I remember this…” Mercy triumphs over judgement. Those things that you have ordained as dead, gone and impossible – hope says that His Mercy is new each morning. His Grace is sufficient for us. We must learn to live in grace that allows us to live, breathe and hope in His Mercy for us.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Mercy triumphed over judgment when Jesus Christ came to this world. He died to pay the price for our sins giving us our freedom to enter right-standing with God the Father again. We can do nothing to regain righteousness except accept His Gift of Amazing Grace. Jesus came to give us mercy not judgment. This is so important to know and understand to grow in our relationship with the Lord. You cannot have mercy and judgment at the same time. They are opposites. If I accept God’s Grace, I am giving up my right to judge other people. This includes the “right” to be offended, mad, bitter, jealous, retaliate or reject others due to their actions or attitude. Forgiveness is not option to those who desire to be redeemed by God.

Sowing and reaping includes our actions and attitudes toward others. If we sow love in our life, it will be our harvest. If we sow judgment which means demanding what is deserved, it will be the dismal future of our next season. What you give – you will receive because what you plant you also harvest? With this in mind…

John 8:15 (NLT) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.

Jesus judges no one. He said it right here. God judges people. Those who are covered in the Blood of Jesus accepting His Grace will have mercy. Jesus is our example. I cannot judge others and be one with Christ. So now when given the opportunity to be hurt, mad, resentful and bitter…these words rise up in me…”mercy triumphs over judgment.” “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16)

James 2:12-14 (NLT) So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

The “Law” that sets us free is God’s Grace. To fully accept God’s Grace is to let go of our right to judge other people. I could not and still cannot keep all of the rules and regulations of God’s Law, therefore; His Grace must be sufficient for me. The minute that I choose to judge another person as unworthy of mercy is the very moment that I exempt myself from it as well. I need God’s Grace to make it into forever with the Lord. I cannot imagine this being all there is to life. My faith is investing in faith. Faith though small it is mighty. It allows me to plant things in others that they are not willing to give me because they are not the source of my life or satisfaction. When I put my full expectation in Jesus – it really doesn’t matter what others think of me or how they treat me because if I will just give them the mercy that I have God’s Promises are mine. I will be complete lacking no good thing. I will have the Mind of Christ and peace that goes with it. I will remain free indeed because I will be one with Jesus. No man or woman can do for you what Jesus did for you and continue to does for you each day. His Love is perfect. His Grace is flawless. His Favor is abundant. Why settle for less by being unforgiving, unrelenting and unmerciful when you already have more than enough and full sufficiency in His Grace! Jesus will satisfy the soul that cuts the ties to human emotions and rights to be right or revered.

Faith is not only the acceptance of God’s Grace but administration of mercy, love, compassion and favor to others as you have received from the Lord. Judgment is to withhold any of these because you feel the other unworthy. Submission to Jesus means surrendering our mind, will and emotions to a God who is greater than our feelings. He is giving us new mercy today! Mercy triumphs, wins, overcomes and removes judgement from our life. What will you do to preserve God’s Grace and give mercy in your life today? What are you willing to give up? Forget? Forgive? His Mercy will meet you the moment you let go!

Mercy (Bethel Music)

I will wake and spent my days…Loving the One who has raised me up…From death to life, from wrong to right…You’re making all things beautiful. You delight in showing mercy…mercy triumphs over judgment.

2 John 3 (NLT) Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

Come and Talk to Me

come-and-talk-to-me

I Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) Never stop praying.

Do you pray? Do you set aside time each day to talk to God? With full schedules and busy routines, it is sometimes hard to carve out a moment or two for the still small voice inviting you to come closer. It is the squeaky wheels that get the grease and the enemy is great at throwing monkey wrenches into our plans producing problems and inconveniences that steal precious moments devoted to private conversations with the Living God. As a mom, there have been days a private trip to the water closet was impossible let alone my prayer closet. Even the dog follows me to the bathroom most of the time.

One of the sweetest exchanges I have ever found in the Word of God is in Psalm 27. “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” The Lord is whispering to you today to come and talk with Him. He desires intimate and personal conversation with you – His Beloved. It is important that in each day there is time for such things. It is empowerment for our soul and equipment for the battle faced each day against temptation and through our trials. Without prayer, it is hard to distinguish the Truth from the lies handed off as half-truth and total bewilderments by the enemy each day. If he can only convince you that God does not love us or is disinterested in us then he can distract us from knowing the Will of God and having His Way in our life.

Is it truly possible to “never stop praying”? How will I ever know if I do not start praying at some point in each day? Too often it is the rescue remedy in our life rather than the daily sustenance that maintains our heart and soul. Jesus is the Bread of Life. We consume Him through communion with the Lord. To commune is to engage in intimate communication. It is a quiet conversation. Too often prayer is approached like the drive-thru at McDonalds. We bark our order to God and expect Him to get it right in thirty seconds or less. When He doesn’t respond according to our desires and expectations – we deem prayer unnecessary and not useful spending the rest of our time complaining and grumbling against the Lord in discontentment.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT) Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

“Pray like this…” It doesn’t get any plainer than this now does it. Who is honest enough to admit that this is not how we pray at all most of the time. Jesus talked to us about prayer. He begins by telling us not to pray as hypocrites. Saying things that are not heartfelt and sincere because there of disbelief. To say one thing and do another is hypocritical for those who might be wondering. Prayer is not meant as a public display or even a corporate conversation overheard by God. (Matthew 6:5-6) Prayer is not beating down God’s Door with a bunch of words and relentless begging until He moves on your behalf. Prayer is the key that opens Heavens door because it slides in and makes a connection with His Will not our own. (Matthew 6:7-8)

Prayer is agreement with God’s Will and acceptance of God’s Way. It is an act of humility not an opportunity to demand anything in advance. We pray according to His Word and by faith (confidence) in it. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. No one makes it to the Father except through Him and our prayers are not different. They must be according to His Way, His Truth and New Life not old things that are subject to passing away. Prayer is based on the premise that God knows our needs and has already provided all that we need. It is the acceptance of every spiritual blessing already predestined for our life. It acknowledges God’s Plan fully agreeing with His Terms.

What prayer does not do? Prayer does not change God’s Plan for our life. It does not precipitate the movement of time preset by God’s Timing. Prayer empowers us to overcome the temptation to quit or give up before reaching fulfillment. (Matthew 26:41) Prayer seldom produces immediate external results. It can produce immediate peace and comfort to those who are waiting. It begins an inward change. (Ps. 34:4-7) Prayer is the opportunity to be freed from our fear by casting our burden and releasing our anxiety to Jesus and allowing Him to guard our heart. Prayer is encouragement while we wait on God. (Psalm138:3) It is knowing that He perfects all that concerns me. I can trust Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NLT)  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Humility is essential in our prayer life. We must continually repent of our sins and forgive others to make them work effectively in our life. I cannot harbor hidden sin and expect the Lord to move into that area of my life. Light and darkness cannot fill the same space. Don’t believe me. Turn on the light in a dark room. What happens? Darkness has to flee. When we decide to restrict certain areas of our life to God’s Will and His Word, they become places of inactivity. Why? God gave each of us the opportunity to choose who to serve. Our faith is our own and may be given to whoever we choose. When I approach prayer with a flurry of requests, it is from a position of false entitlement. I am given a future and hope according to God’s Plan not my own. I must humble myself and accept God’s Plan for me which has nothing to do with my wants, needs and desires in the present moment. All things are working together for my good according to His Plan.

With this in mind, forgiveness of my sins is imperative to having God’s Will. (Matt. 6:14-15) I must repent. This is the first act of humility. I must forgive others. (Mark 11:24-25) I cannot hold grudges in my life because that is a form of misplaced expectation. I must forgive as I have been forgiven. No grudges are allowed. I must give myself back to that person in love just as Christ gave Himself for me. Unforgiveness implies that I expected more from a person than the Living God rather than understanding it is by grace I am saved not of myself. His Grace is enough for me. A lack of forgiveness in my life is evidence that I have decided His Grace is not enough and I am owed something that I have not received. Humility is required to engage in an active and rewarding prayer life. Giving all areas of our life and expectations in our life to Jesus Christ alone.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

The Holy Spirit is our prayer partner for life. He takes the Word hidden in our heart weaving it as Truth in our mind with understanding and facilitating fruit in our spirit that feeds our soul. To pray without His Assistance is foolish because the Spirit knows God’s Own Will and will align our prayer life to match. We are encouraged to pray with the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18) Sometimes I just don’t have the right words to express my heartfelt longings to God so the Spirit speaks on my behalf. He makes my petitions known to God and spreads peace all over my heart. We don’t have to worry about anything. The Lord has us covered. His Spirit is evidence that greater is He who lives in me than the one who lives in this world. His Spirit gives me confidence. I can tell God when I need and thank Him for hearing me. It is God’s Spirit that produces God’s Peace in our heart and mind when given the space to operate in us and through us. He will guard our heart and mind from the lie of the enemy while we wait on God.

James 5:13-16 (NLT) Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

As Daniel prayed the angel of the Lord came to Him and said, Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) I know sometimes prayer seems one-sided. There are times when prayer doesn’t seem to be doing anything but soaking up precious minutes better spent on something else. Prayer is a powerful weapon in our life laid down easily to pick up weapons unworthy of the battles that we face. We exchange our faith to carry weapons not meant for us. David could not wear Saul’s armor to kill the giant. He stepped out with complete faith and confidence in the Living God. I wonder how many conversations that the shepherd boy engaged in tending his father’s flocks? Endless hours alone with no one to talk to but sheep and God. Hmm… Do you feel lonely today? A little bit lost. Could it be that the Lord is whispering to your heart today? Is He saying, “Come and talk to me”? The angel of the Lord told Daniel that the “first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before Your God, your request was heard.” Maybe that thing you stopped praying for was not complete yet. Perhaps the timer on your promise or blessing had not gone off yet and it was partial and incomplete. Just because there was no movement or change in your natural circumstances doesn’t mean that Heaven was not on high alert. God answers the prayers of the righteous.

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Do you believe that today? Before you answer, let me ask you, did you pray today? See if we truly believe that prayer has power then we would pray every day. If we believe that every promise belongs to us by faith in Jesus Christ, we would stop conversing with others telling them of our unmet needs and heartfelt desires and take them to Him. I am challenged to pray more than ever before. I am pressed to pray without stopping. I must humble myself in prayer before the Lord. I repent of my sin and choose to forgive. My prayer holds power when I am righteous. His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough. It is by His Grace that I am able to have the Promises of God prescribed for my life. Not according to my will, but His Will be done.

Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

 

Heart Failure

heart-failure

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Really? Forgive as I forgave you. Come on Lord, you know what they did! Forgive as I have forgiven you…Okay fine. The conversation in my mind continues to go in circles. What happens when you want to forgive but can’t seem to find it in your heart? Or when the offender doesn’t have any remorse and continues in their plight? What then? We must forgive them anyway. I know not as easy as it sounds even to the “best” Christian. There are many perceived enemies and threats all around you in any given day but people are not one of them. We may call them our enemy but really they are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Sibling rivalry is raising a ruckus in the Kingdom and will continue to cause division as long as we don’t really dig down in our heart and find the faith to forgive others as God has forgiven us through Jesus Christ. I am guilty of unforgiveness. Clothing myself as a Child of the Living God includes compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, of course, but without forgiveness I exempt myself from God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. We cannot withhold that which God so graciously gives us and think to become one of His Kingdom. Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately it just doesn’t work that way.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

In Matthew 18, Jesus shares a parable with Peter concerning forgiveness to reinforce the importance of forgiveness. A king decided to settle accounts with his servants. A servant was brought to him that owed him a significant amount of gold. The servant begged and pleaded with the kind promising that if he would patient with him that the servant would pay it all back. The king let him go. The servant was wicked and grabbed one of his fellow servants who owed him less than what he owed the king demanding immediate repayment. But when this servant begged to be allowed time to pay it back, the wicked servant refused to do to his peer what the kind had done for him throwing the man in prison. When the king heard the news, he had the wicked servant apprehended, thrown in jail and tortured until the debt was repaid in full. The parable concludes with this verse – “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

Forgiveness is a matter of the heart. It has nothing to do with being right or being wrong. It is not contingent on the repentance or repayment of the offender but rather a release of real estate in our heart for the Lord to fill with more of His Grace, Mercy and Love. It is uncomfortable to learn that when you think you have it all together in God that He allows us to be shaken a bit so that voids may be discovered in our life. I am a forgiving person when it comes to me. Maybe it is because I know who I am and what I have done and how much I need God’s Grace. However, there is always more that I need to learn and the Lord is faithful to teach me those things. I share this with you from the bottom of my heart which clearly needs just a little more love.

Recently my mother had open heart surgery, I have spent time with her as she recovered. A home health nurse indicated on a visit that she could hear a slight rattle in mom’s right lower lung. This is of note in a patient especially a heart patient because that could indicate fluid in their chest which can lead to congestive heart failure. If fluid builds up around your heart, it can keep the heart from pumping blood through the body sufficiently. As the pumping power is affected, the body will begin to show symptoms of distress such as shortness of breath, swelling, fatigue which will worsen over time until there is irregular heartbeat and chest pain, etc. The next day I took my mother to get an x-ray. Walking into the clinic, she indicated that she felt weak, tired and a bit short of breath. This would not be alarming if it was part of her continued recovery but up until that day she was slowly increasing her activity so I became alarmed. The radiologist showed her some fluid built up in her chest. The nurse called that evening but did not address the fluid so I asked her about it including running down the symptoms that I was seeing as mom lay in her chair becoming weaker throughout the day. Within minutes, she called back with a whole list of doctor’s orders to address what now appeared to be the early stages of pneumonia. God is so good! Within 24 hours mom was recovering quite nicely.

I share this to story with you today because we must pay careful attention to the signs and symptoms of unforgiveness in our life. It will begin to manifest things in us that are not Christ like. To forgive another person from our heart opens our life up to harm again so it is human nature to forgive but never forget. This impacts our heart and ability to love others as the Lord has instructed us to. I am guilty. During the time with my mom, there was a situation with our daughter that has caused great heartache and division between us and people who we love. Now a week or so later, I am struggling to find forgiveness in my heart. I can forgive and pretend to move on but I must forgive as Jesus has forgiven me to insure that my heart stays healthy and in tune with Him. It’s funny how I can forgive people for hurting me but mess with my kids and mama bear comes out. Well, I cannot live in unforgiveness and in the Kingdom of God as well.

Matthew 6:12-15 (NIV) And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Half of the Lord’s Prayer is about forgiveness. This tells me two things – it is a high priority to God and it is probably one of the number one temptations to His People. Forgiveness is an act of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience because if fully demonstrates the love, grace and mercy demonstrated on the Cross. We are to love one another. More importantly, we are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) The world loves its family and friends. It chooses to hate those who are perceived as enemies. Jesus has commanded, not suggested, us to love other people as He has loved us. How are you doing with that? Our heart must grasp the power of loving those who are unlovable and even those who cause hurt, offense, and brokenness just as much as our friends and family. It begins with forgiveness. Who do you ignore? Who have you written off? Who has real estate in your heart today that belongs to Jesus? Just as fluid will cause the heart to stop functioning properly and lead to death, so will unforgiveness if we do not deal with it properly.

Luke 6:37-38 (NIV) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I need, want and desire all of God’s Love, Grace and Mercy in full operation in my life. Now that my mom has had her heart “fixed”, she must observe a heart smart diet. She must change certain habits and modify what she eats to keep her heart healthy. We are the same when it comes to love, grace and mercy in our life. If mom goes back to eating a high sodium and high fat diet, she will likely end up in the same condition as before as her heart will not be properly cared for. It is up to my mom to make life changes to accommodate her heart. We must do the same. The world will justify hurt and unforgiveness. After all doesn’t the saying go, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”? How many times must I forgive seventy times seven? Really God? Absolutely. The Lord will give me the same amount of love, grace and mercy that I give to others not based on their offenses but compared to His Great Affection for me. I am to love others as He has loved me.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (NIV) If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Has someone caused you grief? Are you offended? Are you done? The closer a person is to you the deeper the cut when they come against you. I understand this completely. Several years ago, I was struggling with unforgiveness toward someone. I wanted to just become indifferent about them. You know act like they did not exist. As I prayed for the Lord to calm my heart and forgive me for my attitude, a question popped into my head. “What if you are the only person praying for them?” Think about that. Could it be that the scheme of the enemy is to get us to write people off in our heart and mind so that we will not pray for them much less love them? The Lord’s Prayer says, “Lead us not into temptation…” The enemy wants to cause bitterness, strife and division in every relationship where a Christian believer is present. It sabotages the Kingdom work and stops revival when relationship are interrupted in such a way. We must live in a surrendered state of forgiveness because it allows His Grace to be sufficient for me. Unforgiveness implies that Christ’s Work on the Cross was not enough to cover every offense. It was enough for me. I must extend to others. All others. I need the overflowing love and mercy of God in my life every single day. I will not allow the enemy to stop it with unforgiveness which always leads to heart failure.

John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Intentional Kindness

intentional-kindness

Two arms reaching together with sun.

Ephesians 4:30-32 (NLT) And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Random acts of kindness is not a Biblical principle. It is a humanitarian effort. The golden rule only goes so far in this life but it is the Truth in I Corinthians 13 that governs our life. God is love. (I John 4:8) If God’s Holy Spirit lives in us, we will produce love, joy, peace, patience and kindness…among His Other Fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is patient and kind. It “is” not it may be, could be or should be. To be a Child of the Living God, filled with the Holy Spirit, means that we are to live a life of love that begins with these two attributes.

Spontaneous or random acts of kindness are given on a whim. Gestures that do not really cost us anything at all because what we offer to another did not require a sacrifice. However, God desires us to show intentional kindness to everyone we meet, at any given moment, each and every day. The Lord provides opportunities every day for His People to extend His Loving Kindness to others. Are we taking full advantage of these moments to share the Love of God unconditionally based on kindness and compassion rather than human judgment. I am challenged today by to examine my heart for kindness. To see if I am measuring up to God’s Standard of Love by living to be intentionally kind not relishing in those moments I mess up and do the right thing offering kindness to others.

Kindness is not a natural response. It is a learned behavior. Why? People do not trust. It is not human nature to open ourselves up to vulnerability. Fearing others will take advantage of our giving or yielding to others, we judge those who are worthy of our grace rather than understanding it is not ours to evaluate only to communicate in every interaction.

Ephesians 1:4-8 (NLT) Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God loved us before He created the world. He chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault providing the grace that we needed to do so. God decided in advance. His Love is intentional. He decided to do it and did. It is what He wanted to do. It was His Pleasure. It is in these statements that we can identify God’s Intentional Nature. When God decides to do something – He does it. He doesn’t change His Mind. To be like God our Father and follow the example of Jesus, our love must be intentional and marked by kindness.

Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

We have a little dog named Izzy. She is a tiny 4-pound monster. She makes a lot of mistakes. Barks all the time. Yet, she is very loving and loyal. The thing about dogs that we love so much is their loyalty. I can fall over her. Yell at her. Even put her in the crate when she does not behave, she still loves me and wants to be with me the moment that I let her out. Her love for us is relentless. What is it in dogs that make them so loyal? They must have very big hearts. People can learn a thing or two from dogs. We are to be clothed in “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Clothed meaning covered in it. It should be what people see and experience when we are with them at all times not just when we feel like it or think they are worthy of it. But with the same loyalty as our furry friends, give it freely and willingly to those around us.

Psalm 145:16-17 (NLT) When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.

What is kindness? Desiring to help others, indulgence, consideration, helpfulness, mildness, gentleness, generosity, tenderness and compassion all underlined by love. We love others because He first loved us. When the Lord opens His Hand, He satisfies. When I open my hand, mouth and heart to others are they satisfied or do I leave them lacking because I once again have failed to be intentionally kind as Jesus has been to me.

The Word of God promises that kindness will be a reward. (Proverbs 11:17) Kind words are like honey that is sweet to the soul and healing to the body. (Proverbs 16:24) It doesn’t say who it will sweeten and soothe. To be a wise woman, I must give instructions with kindness as I work within my family, life and world to be the Proverbs 31 kind of girl I long to become. (Proverbs 31:26) God defines a lack of kindness in our life as judgment. (Romans 2:3-4) Who am I to decide another unworthy of the kindness that I have found in the Lord? Not sure, yet I somehow manage to do it every day.

Matthew 5:46-48 (NLT) If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

We offer kindness to those who we trust. Plain and simple. It is fear that our kindness may be rejected or taken advantage of that keeps us from giving it freely and without condition. We offer random acts of kindness like pennies in a fountain. No real loss if we do not see our wish come true because we don’t really put a true value on a single cent. However, remove all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” means that we must “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” now this puts a whole new spin on things. We must live with intentional kindness to walk with Jesus. It is His Way. It is the Truth. It is how we find new life in the giving of ourselves to other people.

Through trial, tribulation, problems, hardships and brokenness, there is a small opening in my heart and soul that has developed some patience. This is by far the hardest fruit of God’s Spirit to cultivate in me. To be intentionally kind requires patience makes us slow down and become acutely aware of those around us. Busyness is no longer an excuse. No one is undeserving of our kindness. We are called to love one another and there is no specification that I can find of any person who excused or eliminated from this group. I must live in kindness. I must walk in kindness. I must be clothed in kindness. I must speak words filled with kindness. I must give in kindness. I must love with kindness.

There is an old saying, “I am going to do it but I don’t have to like it.” It is a lie when it comes to loving others and being kind. Obedience to God is love. Anything else will not be accepted. I think that is why so many churches fail and ministries fold. They come together with the best intentions but forget what they are brought together to do. A commitment to Jesus Christ will always be marked by love and kindness. It is who He is. Our character is no different if we say all the right words, do all the right things yet fail to love every person who we come in contact with. If we will become intentional about our kindness, I believe we will begin to walk in love. Lord, examine each word before I speak it, every gesture before I do it, every action before I commit it, and every act I do in Your Name. Jesus make sure it is based on the unconditional love and amazing grace that I have found in You.

Proverbs 3:3 (NLT) Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

 

 

Missing Communication

miscommunicaton

I John 1:1-4 (NLT) We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

Communication is essential in maintaining a relationship. In an age distanced by texting and social media, friends and family go long periods of time without ever speaking to the other person. I am not at all of the opinion that anything God created was bad. All these technological advances were given as a thought or idea to someone for our benefit. Though “I am allowed to do anything, not everything is good for me. I am allowed to do anything but not everything is beneficial” or so the Word of God says. (I Corinthians 10:23) As believers our communication is very important for we speak life. Audibly – the Breath of Life in us travels to the atmosphere and people around us. We have the Word of Life within us. There was nothing of form in the universe until God spoke. The first thing that He created was light. I believe it is God’s Will and Way to improve our communication for His Glory and to manifest His Power on the earth.

Communication involves two components – to speak and to listen. These two things are absolutely necessary to avoid miscommunication in life and love. However, most of the time people talk to be heard and avoid listening altogether. What we say reveals the contents of our heart and so does the way that we listen. Listening is not always about us. It doesn’t always matter if we believe what the other person is saying or how they perceive a situation. We have but one perspective. It is love. The Lord is instructing His Children today to improve our communication or chaos will continue to erode the church.

Luke 6:43-45 (NLT) “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Our words reveal the contents of our heart. The way that we listen reveals the condition of our heart as well. I can say all the right words. Christians have a language and dialect all their own. It has been widely broadcast but there is no harvest in sight yet. Why? We open prayer lines, message boards, and offer altar calls with the promise that someone will listen and offer assistance to others in need. Where is the change? Could it be there is still miscommunication in the midst of our good intentions? I believe there may be. I know that a serious discussion conducted by text message usually leads to disagreement caused by misunderstanding. Hearsay most of the time never sounds as it was intended. We are saying all the right things. We pretend to be interested in the hearts and lives of others. Jesus, you are the Word of Life given to us to share with to illuminate darkness and bring dead things back to life. Why is that happening?

A tree is identified by its fruit – not its root, trunk or leaves. Fruit is fulfillment of purpose and determines the prosperity of our life. The seeds that produce a tree are planted in the ground. They must die to their current form to give life to the tree. It is a sacrifice of self. It is reformation. It is transformation and change. The human heart is a vile and despicable thing bent on its own way. It is deceitful. A change of heart is produced by Jesus Christ. His Word is the seed of our heart that takes root and gives form to our purpose in this life. Without the Word, nothing useful will grow from our interactions with others. Seed gets overtaken by many things – it is plucked up by the enemy, eaten up by distractions and when it falls on a hard heart cannot grow. We must pay close attention to the condition of our heart to communicate effectively. Our ability to speak to others and listen to them as Christ would have us to is based on perception and the condition of our heart used to do so.

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

I am hesitant to engage in public speaking. The Lord has been nudging me more and more to do so but I am a bit apprehensive. People immediately judge us according to our words and actions. Perception is everything! We are called to walk by faith and not by sight but to be real for a moment we react more than we respond. If I could speak every language on earth, there would still be miscommunication because our hearts are not aligned as one. Every word ever spoken comes from our heart and every word ever heard is evaluated there. We must speak AND listen in love.

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

What if every word spoken was wrapped in love and every word heard considered in love? What would happen? Communication God’s Way is always about love. It is about forgiveness. It is patient and kind. It is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable. It keeps no record of wrongdoing or the expectation is in man not the Lord. Love never gives up. Love never loses faith. Love is always hopeful. Love endures every circumstance. What if we considered everything we say and hear according to love? It could change the world. Walls would come down. Doors would be opened. Chains would fall off with unforgiveness, offenses and heart. The brokenhearted would feel the Presence of God and His Spirit carefully healing wounded hearts and crushed spirits. It wouldn’t matter if we were right. Irrelevant if everyone agreed because love would prevail again.

I am considering giving up texting people altogether. There are days when I don’t even want to speak in fear of miscommunication. Our preconceived notions of life and love must give way to the Love of God and His Light to illuminate the breakdown in earthly communication that erects barriers limiting the outpouring from Heaven that God has for us. We cannot be offended. We must forgive. We must speak life to one another. We must stop taking every word spoken and heard making it about us and focus our thoughts on Jesus Christ who is Love. Love never gives up and never loses faith. We cannot lose faith in other people. We must love one another.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

How will the Body of Christ ever become effective if it cannot agree? If every word spoken is misinterpreted and every word heard applied to self, how can we ever get past ourselves to move together for the Kingdom? I am just as guilty as the next person of miscommunication. I get wrapped up in what others say and think about me sometimes more than I should. I apply the actions and attitudes of others to my thoughts rather than fixing my thoughts on the Word of God and His Promises. The life choices of others do not impact or impede my life and ability to love unless I allow it. My heart and mind must be given to Jesus Christ day by day and moment by moment to be led by love alone. Believers are called to agree wholeheartedly. We are to love each other. It is our duty to work together with one mind and purpose which will always mean putting myself behind the Lord and other people. This is how prosperity becomes our way of life as our soul prospers in Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 1:5-6 (NLT) Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.

Matthew 13:12 (NLT) To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.

The more I know the Lord, the less I know. Being saved would be a whole lot easier if people were not involved. The more personalities and individual perceptions the less likely agreement will be unless as a body we decide to give up always being right, preserving our feelings, withholding forgiveness to love like Jesus did. He loved others completely and met their needs unconditionally – yet they hated him. Love has grown cold and sin is rampant but it is not supposed to be that way in the church. We are to be like-minded. With one heart and one mind pursuing Jesus Christ together. How can we get anywhere if we do not agree? Each wanting our own way – we are at a standstill. Wise people identify their need for more understanding. Those with understanding know they need additional guidance. We have the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit create in me a clean heart today. Your Word for my life in Ezekiel promises me a “new heart” and I receive it today in Jesus Name. Renew in me a right spirit. One that is ready to bend and give way to love always. Remove any bitterness, unforgiveness and malice that is hidden there. When I reach the edge of my love for other people, extend it. Break my heart for other people again, Lord. Make me a good communicator. Jesus, help me to speak life from a heart filled with you and listen through the love and grace you have given me. I need you today, Lord, to be a good speaker, good listener and good communicator. Most of all Jesus make me a good lover of all people.

Reach out to someone today. If there has been a breach in communication, work to rebuild and repair it. Speak to one another. Listen to each other. Liberally apply grace to your relationships today especially those strained. It is probably nothing more than miscommunication but left unaided it will create restrictions and barriers in our life that keep the outpouring of heaven from reaching our homes, jobs and churches. One heart. One mind. One purpose. It really doesn’t leave much room for me anymore.

Psalm 51:10-15 (NLT) Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

Make Me Happy

Make Me Happy

Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

In our pursuit of happiness, I wonder if it is ever really a consideration of what makes God happy. I believe that the Lord finds joy in His Children. I love my children. I know that I feel complete when they are all together under our roof. I know that when they first come together it is all laughter and love. However, the longer they remain in one place it quickly can turn to bickering. Since there are now six of them counting our son-in-law, it can go from reunion to revolution with just one well-fired potshot at another. They are hard on one another but should you make the mistake of coming against one of their siblings be prepared for a fight. When our son was ill, the dynamics shifted as they circled their wagons around their ailing brother. No longer was their picking on or fighting one another but grave concern over his health. Our oldest son became very conscientious of the younger son and after 19 years of making his life as terrible as possible, he became the doting big brother. His younger counterpart did not know how to handle the newly acquired attention and became very weary. When he was in remission about a year, he voiced relief when his brother began picking on him again as before and the banter of communication began that he was used to. I wonder if the Lord looks at us the same way. He loves for us to be together. Sharing life. Worshipping His Name. Doing what we are called to do together. I wonder if it grieves His Heart as it does mine when His Children wander off, get lost, lose their way, argue, and bicker amongst one another. Of course it does, how could it not?

Psalm 133:1-3(NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s Head. Harmony is refreshing. I wonder if this is why church fellowship is so strained. We do not have harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ. We must find a way to come together, not just within congregations but corporately as a body no longer divided by doctrine and religion to take hold of this thing called harmony. The Lord blesses the life of those who strive for harmony and unity among all mankind. Is that you? Do you want harmony? Do you live united? It requires self-sacrifice just like the priesthood of Aaron. They were the ones who lived in the Presence of God tending to the temple. Are we also sacrificing our wants, needs and desires to be One with the Body of Christ and dwell in the Kingdom of God? What makes God happy will inevitably make me happy if I will sacrifice my life to live in His Presence.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? I Thessalonians 4:17-18 levels up our thinking if we consider these words – “Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” The encouragement of the church and bride is the return of Christ. To live for the Lord will make our life better. Our fellowship with one another should do the same thing. We are to encourage each other. Not religiously but relationally to be ready for Jesus’ return as we prepare to join Him in the Kingdom of God forever. There is more to life than this. Say it with me – there is more to life than this. We must think higher thoughts. We must assume higher ways in order to be more like Him every day. I cannot think of myself all the time and be a good partner in any relationship that I maintain.

Any comfort from His Love? Anything done outside of love is apart from Jesus Christ. The Lord does everything for us, in us and through us because of His Great Love for us. Therefore, as ministers of the Gospel not by profession but ordination through the Great Commission, it is our profession and privilege in life to love radically. It is to follow Christ’s Example and Mandate on our life. Love one another. If we do not learn to love and accept others unconditionally, expecting Christ to change their heart, mind and life rather than trying to do it ourselves, we will never see the unification of Christ. There is a God who loves us and created a plan for us. Therefore, He does not need me to point the way but rather for me to lead others to THE WAY. The only way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus. I cannot do anything to make my way to Him outside of the grace given to me by Jesus. We are to comfort the lost leading them to the Light with love.

Any fellowship with the Spirit? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) This is NOT the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But rather when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, He gives you His Spirit which identifies us as Children of God. With this in mind, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as we learn to put our expectation in Jesus Christ and NOT other people. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to relationships, ALL RELATIONSHIPS, my first comment will be that you need the Lord to maintain any relationship long term. Marriage without Jesus is impossible. Two imperfect people with unrealistic expectations and selfish hearts will always need an advocate. Relationships are giving opportunities. A successful relationship requires enough trust to give 100% of ourselves to it or it is not a true relationship.

Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (I Peter 4:8-9)We must love each other with the depth and magnitude of the love given to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Love is complete and unconditional full of grace, tenderness and compassion. It is not harsh and unyielding but completely merciful and forgiving. Have you examined your heart lately? When I feel anger towards another, or find myself pulling away – I find that if I examine my heart I will find things not like the Lord. I must deal with them quickly and efficiently as not to cause bitterness and strife. We must have tender hearts. No matter how many times we have been hurt in this world, by the people, if we cannot remain compassionate the fire inside us will soon go out. Passion will no longer rule us but pride quickly takes over.

“Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” I believe if we focused on nothing else but this one concept that we could truly bring pleasure to God. I think that when His Children agree wholeheartedly putting all differences aside and love one another working together to share His Love with one mind and purpose that it puts a smile on His Face. When the King smiles on His People, His Favor comes pouring out along with His Glory. We want God’s Favor. We cry out to see His Glory. Where is the Lord? Is He happy with us? Or has our bickering driven Him away? Has the hardness in our hearts for one another kept us from His Presence? I want to make the Lord happy…don’t you? Lord, it makes me happy to make you happy. Show me the way.

Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Humility is absolutely essential in successfully uniting the Body of Christ. No one is 100% right in their pursuit of God – of that you cannot convince me. I know that I have visited several churches and been members of many congregations. Nobody is perfect in their fellowship because people are involved. I do know this. We are called to put aside our pride and selfishness to take up our cross and follow the example of Jesus Christ. What is that example? Even though He was God, He did not relish in equality with God but decided to give up His Divine Privileges to take a humble position as slave and appear in human form. I do not think a single person who has entered Heaven would ever consider coming back. Jesus did.

Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Have you ever been accused on doing something that you did not do? Or maybe saying something that you never said? Do you remember how that made you feel inside? The wronged feeling of being completely innocent yet falsely accused. Imagine if you were the God of the Universe. Jesus died even for the ones who hammered the nails into his hands and feet. He passionately loved those who spit in his face and tore chunks of hair and flesh from his bearded face. So you tell me, does it really matter if we are right or wrong? To be like Jesus means we must put away our own pride and take up our cross. The cross has many marks on it. The first is unconditional love. The second forgiveness and grace. There are others that must define our new life in Jesus. What matters is most is that we are to have the same attitude as Christ.

What did God do for Jesus? He elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the Name above all names. Hold that thought.

Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.  Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

But wait…there is more to this amazing offer…

John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Let me end the confusion if there is any. When we decide to sacrifice our life for harmony in our home, church, work and world – we activate the Keys to the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus in our life. When Jesus laid down His Life – God gave Him all power and authority in Heaven and earth. He obtained them through humility and sacrificing His Life for others. When we follow this example, Jesus hands us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Power of His Name to use to build the Kingdom of God. If our life does not have open doors, the keys are not being used such as faith, hope and most importantly love. If we are using His Name without much results – it is time to reevaluate our pursuit of happiness. Joy and peace that lead to full satisfaction come when we sacrifice our life to Jesus Christ to have the life that He died for us to have. We die to self when we choose to live for others just as He did. It is the moment that their salvation and freedom drives us to avoid be offensive or defensive but to wrap our arms around them in love, speak to them in love, and captivate them with His Love until they come. This is the greatest work we can do is to do and makes God happy. It will make us happy, too. As God’s Love unites us and our differences dissolve in the Sea of Forgetfulness. We can walk together on the Highway of Holiness which is paved in love and sacrifice.

If only for just one day, we could all put aside our differences to walk together into the Presence of God. To stop looking left and right judging those who we find there by appearances and conditions, but just grabbed them to come along to worship God with us. What if we kept our eyes on Jesus instead of other people? What if making the Lord happy with harmony became more important than being right or religious? What if? I believe that if we ever truly discover harmony in the Body of Christ that we will experience favor like never before and His Glory will fill His Temple again. It would produce the rich and satisfying life that seems elusive for now. Love each other today. Forgive one another. Pray fervently for each other. Work for harmony in the House of God and it will pour out into your life. Make God happy and you will be happy, too!

Psalm 89:14-16 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.

She Considers A Field

She Considers A Field

Proverbs 31:16 (NIV)

She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

I am not really sure if he is one or an army. All that I am certain is that he is a destructive little pest who is intent of tunneling through every inch of our earthworm rich soil. Walking from the backdoor to the trash can is treacherous, so I send my husband. The ground looks intact but with each step – his work is apparent as the dirt gives way. We have tried to get rid of him but he is a crafty one. The struggle is real. I thought of our destructive invader this morning as I considered my field. Like any good Proverbs 31 woman, she considers a field, buys it, and out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. One would imagine that this is implying that she is a good businesswoman and investor who budgets and spends profitably. This morning though in the middle of the Daniel Fast 2016, I feel a tugging on my heart to consider my field. What is my treasure? Do I want a rich vineyard to turn a nice profit? Who doesn’t? The Lord has promised to supply my every need. To give seed to the sower. He tells me that in my obedience I will prosper becoming the lender not the borrower. His Blessing adds no sorrow with it. Yet, deep down in the recesses of my heart I am profoundly impressed that this is not the field of consideration. The Lord is My Portion. He is My Provider. He has proven to be faithful and true too many times to recount. When I look at my life now, it is so much more than I ever thought possible. Yet, I am humbled to think I have not yet considered the greatest treasure in my life.

Matthew 13:44 (NIV)

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

The Kingdom of Heaven is the greatest treasure of my life. Yet some times, maybe more than sometimes, okay most of the time, I have taken for granted the Gift that I have been given making it something that it is not. How? We take the treasure of God’s Word, His Way and even His Will to twist for our own benefit and profit. Church becomes a business connection and social organization where you scratch my back and I will yours. Mult-level marketing is rampant in the church where people sit in back rooms signing up for the next “get-rich-quick” scheme rather than face down at the empty altar praying for revival. We are all guilty of it to some degree. We pray that the Lord will prosper our business, give us a new house, better car, and more money to be free to “serve” Him more. We have been given a treasure that lives in us. It is already in us – thought we do not cultivate it.

Our hidden treasure will bear fruit in our field. It begins with where we are and what we are doing today. To pursue the Lord wholeheartedly means we must treasure what we have not using it to get something of lesser value. When the man found the treasure in the field, he hid it. Like we hide God’s Word in our heart allowing the Holy Spirit to do something with it. He continued to be obedient until he could finally by the field. What if everything we need is already provided, but in our pursuit of lesser things – we have abandoned the field holding our reward? Sober thought. I know. Today I am considering the soil of my life and all the seeds around me. What am I doing with my field?

I Peter 4:7-10 (NIV)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

If everything is created by God, it belongs to God. We cannot do anything to earn salvation or the favor given to us by our Father. This makes us stewards. We are given the opportunity to manage the Lord’s Affairs here on earth. We do not have to work for or earn anything simply learn to possess it. By His Grace we are saved, not of ourselves. The most valuable gift that I have is the Grace of God that allows me to step into righteousness through the Blood of Jesus Christ that will one day allow me to live with Him forever. What am I doing with THAT gift? Or like happens at my house, are there so many gifts that we are overwhelmed and fail to see the true gift of love given in the midst of God’s Blessing in our life? We must consider our field. We must distinguish what we treasure most and live for it. Life is busy. Our mind and thoughts cluttered by what others call reality to the extent we conform our thinking and try to make Christ fit into our life, wants, needs, and desires rather than stepping into the field He created for our prosperity. It is a field of souls. Men and women we encounter every day who need love and care. They need prayer. Looking for a Savior, do we take more from them or do we give them what we have – Jesus.

Be alert and of sober mind. This morning as I sit here and remind myself of the Love that I have been given with an abundance of grace and more grace, I have been reading I Peter 5 and decided that in my desire to prosper on the earth, I have neglected my field in God’s Kingdom. How?

I Peter 5:2-4 (NIV)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

The sowing and reaping in my life is to care for my flock. The one that Christ entrusted to me by placing them in my life (my field) but too often we become consumed with building the house rather than filling the barn. Farmers plant more than they reap. When the harvest comes in, they take what is needed to survive and sow the rest back in the ground. However, we have become a generation of Christians who want to the Lord to pad our life and have abandoned our field. Sheep are dying. The field is unkempt. It is not our property that we are forsaking. The Master will not be gone forever. We have no guarantee of tomorrow. How are we living today? Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:33)

John 14:25-27 (NIV)

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

We are experiencing a dilemma in our household as kids grow up and move away. Our fourth child only has two more years of high school and she will reach adulthood. Our baby girl is struggling right now being the youngest. She feels left behind like everyone is older, smarter and more loved than she is. Oh how I am not a fan of the tweenage years from about 11 to 15 years of age. I cannot convince her to enjoy these years and just let some time pass. It is not as tragic as it seems and before she knows it she will be doing all the things she thinks that she is missing out on now. She wants to jump ahead to the good part. I am the same way when the Lord lays something on my heart. I want to get to the good part sometimes overlooking the learning, growing and maturing that is needed to experience it.

In 2009, the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart to meet with God like this every single day and record our time together. I did simply out of obedience without real expectation other than to someday maybe write a book. For years, I have wanted to memorize scripture and know more about God’s Word. Seven years later, I have but not as I expected to. Daily the Lord sows seed in my heart and I just stuff it in. What I didn’t know is that He was preparing me for an unseen battle to be waged in the future, when that battle came I survived through my relationship with Jesus Christ. It did not put a check in my mailbox, a new car in the garage or send me to a fabulous all-expense paid vacation. It saved the life of my son. God healed my son and delivered him from cancer despite the fact the enemy attacked his body five times in three years. On top of it all, insurance decided to stop paying because the price of life too high. The Lord knew what I needed. He knew how I would respond. He conditioned and prepared me to endure to the end. Our life is a completed work written by the Hand of God from beginning to end. It is important to keep our eyes on the prize we are after or this life will strip us of all we have. I know for a fact that without the Word planted in my heart and the Holy Spirit guiding me that I would have never made it through that terrible time. My good intentions did nothing. Money ran out. There was absolutely nothing I could do but trust the Lord. He did it, of course. He came through just like Him promised. I changed in the process. I am glad I did. It brought me back to my first love and the field I have been given that had been abandoned long ago.

Today is temporary. Tomorrow is not promised. When you look at your life through the Eyes of Jesus and faith in God it will never be a vision of things. Your treasure will become the souls in your field and reaching them for Christ. I will be 50 years old this year. I can hardly believe I have been alive that long. My doctor asked me how I am doing with the big 5-0. All I could do was smile. God has given me a great life. I have hope in Him. I am ready to cultivate my field like never before. It took me all this time to allow the Lord through His Word and Spirit to make my life a place for others to dwell. I am aware of the sheep in my field like never before and it is my heartfelt desire to be the shepherd that the Lord has called me to be. When I plant goodness, mercy, love, patience, and forgiveness there, others will come into it. I have found the treasure in my field and now intend to sell all that I have giving my life away to possess it.

Luke 15:3-7 (NIV)

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

 

What a word for my life today? She considers her field… and buys it. Now all in, she takes her earnings to plant a vineyard. Wisdom is our “earnings” of God. To live more than one moment in His Presence plants seeds that will yield a harvest and others will come. I am humbled yet again to realize that in all my well-doing I often miss my truly calling to shepherd the sheep in the field called my life. The enemy has come in like the pesky mole trying to destroy the ground and keep seeds of love and grace to grow there. I become distracted and lack focus when I am to be alert and sober minded. Thank you Lord that your grace is enough for me on the days that I realize though I have come so far, I still have so far to go. Thank you for the hope that I have in You to maybe get some of it right. Today help me focus on one sheep. One person who I can share the Love of God with and lead them to the Gate. You are the Gateway of Faith that leads to confident hope so that I do not have to depend on this world or expect anything from it. I have you Lord who satisfies my soul giving me peace that passes all understanding. Let my greatest treasure be the souls you have entrusted to me. May the works of my hand, words of my mouth and intention of my heart cause all of Heaven to rejoice as I lead one lost soul back to you! This is what you desire. You have asked me to consider my field and provide it for your use. I am ready.

John 10:7-16 (NIV)

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

 

The Fruit of My Mouth

The Fruit of My Mouth

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

Communication. What are do we talk about? How do we use our words? I happen to use a lot of words in a single day just ask my husband. When I am not talking and expressing myself, it is then he becomes worried that something is wrong. In general, people know how I feel about something without soliciting a response. The Lord has done a tremendous work in my mouth. That’s right in my mouth. The Message that we have been given to share with the world seems obvious until given to people to carry out. We have this treasure in jars of clay. (2 Corinthians 4:7) The Great Commission would be more effective if we considered the condition of our “jar” rather than trying to flavor the Word given to us.

 

I was once told that the word “but” nullifies everything that comes before it. I’m sorry…but. Think about it. It’s true. We do it all the time. Excuses are born of buts. We have this wonderful message of God’s Great Love. It is news worth sharing with everyone we come in contact. Why do we insist on sharing other things? Meaningless things? Pointless things? Harmful words? Careless expressions? Forget about killing the messenger. The messenger has lost the Word given to deliver.

Christians are dissatisfied and hungry for fulfillment. What could a person in such a state have to offer or testify about their God to the watching, waiting and dying world? The chasm grows wider as the need to share one’s opinion or prove they are right overrides the love, kindness and compassion that is the love letter signed by Jesus’ Blood on the Cross and entrusted in our hearts to deliver. The tongue indeed holds the power of life and death. I was taught from a very young age that they can do infinitely more damage than a weapon and should not be used unintentionally. In other words, if you do not mean it do not say it. So how do we fix the problem?

Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV)

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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only hat is helpful for building others up according to THEIR needs, that it may been THOSE who listen. My goal for 2016 in a nutshell. I would love to say that every single world I speak is kind, loving and encouraging. I would be lying if I did. As my walk with Christ intensifies, and I long for a deeper relationship with my Savior and Lord I find that the refining fire is headed toward my mouth. God wants ALL my communication to be worthy of His Spirit that nothing I say will grieve His Spirit in me. It will be a full-time job. I am to get rid of ALL bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander. All of it. Even the smallest most miniscule amount must be severely and harshly dealt with. Every form of malice. I am to be kind and compassionate to every other human being I come in contact with. I must forgive anyone and everyone that I harbor ill feelings towards like Christ forgave me which means grace comes with it. Lord, how will I do this?

 

Matthew 15:10-11 (NIV)

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth that is what defiles them.”

 

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them” is referring to religiosity and customs. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. This freedom allows us to live and express our worship as we choose. However, it comes with this reminder. “What comes out of our mouth that is what defiles them.” Religion is not a sin unless it interferes with our relationship to Jesus Christ. The only thing in our life that is sinful is that which contradicts or interferes with our relationship to the Lord. Otherwise, go for it. The problem is that sometimes religion takes over righteousness which moves us from humility to personal exaltation which convinces us that somehow do not need grace anymore. In that state, we begin to judge others from a human point of view rather than a godly perspective. Case in point – homeless guy sitting on the side of the road with a sign that reads “Why lie I need a beer?” What do you do? Religion says I will not feed his addiction. Jesus says, “Let’s buy him a burger and bring it back.” The struggle to love others in spite of their sin is hard. I get that. It is difficult to give someone who isn’t working or doing their “fair share” your hard earned dollar BUT that is exactly what Jesus would do. What does that have to do with communication? How does it impact our message? Well, if we ever allow ourselves to get to the place where we feel more worthy of God’s Grace and Love than someone else, we have a heart problem that needs His Healing all over again.

Luke 6:45 (NIV)

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

From the abundance the heart our mouth speaks. Our mouth relays the condition of our heart unwillingly. As the words come tumbling out, it makes it clear to others what our motive is and intentions concerning them. What goes in is what comes out. It is simple science. If you feed worldly communication and only take in what the world has to offer, it is going to contaminate your jar so whatever is stored there is ruined. Jesus told the Pharisees, “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26) When we come to Christ, there is an immediate work in us that will often change how we communicate. We stop using certain words. We try to soften certain expressions. You know, we pick up new lingo. Just as we grow in our relationship with Christ, so should our vocabulary change and develop bearing fruit. “The mouth of the righteous should bear fruit of wisdom…” (Proverbs 10:31) Which means? “Bless your heart” is a real and not a statement to validate malice spoken previously. “I will pray for you” are real words of agreement not just a way to facilitate gossip. The enemy does not give up on us just because we surrender our life to Jesus. No, if anything this gets him all fired up and directs his attention on us. He will use every scheme he has to trick us into using our communication as a curse rather than the blessing it could be to us and others.

Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

It is important that our mouth and heart agree. If we declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart, it is salvation to our soul. Our heart believes. My mouth should profess my faith in every attitude and action on a daily basis. Cursing does not flow from a righteous mouth. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. (Proverbs 10:11) What I say about my life reflects the belief in my heart. Grumbling and complaining implies dissatisfaction with God who is my provider. Bickering and fighting exemplifies a lack of peace in my heart. Worrying and stressing over everything means that my heart is faithless and full of fear. Doubt is foretold in pessimism expresses a small lifeless god with no power. If we do not know how to effectively communicate love to others, it is an expression of a heart that has not yet encountered the limitless and unfailing Love of God. Our mouth is a prime indicator of our hearts condition. If the words we hear coming out of our mouth are not reflective of the work inside our heart  – we must change what we are saying to the Glory of God.

James 3:9-12 (NIV)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

We are told early on that if we have nothing nice to say that we should say nothing at all. This is okay for children and spiritually immature. However, one encounter with Jesus Christ changes everything as we answer the call to “follow Him.” Acceptance of Jesus as our Savior and Lord fills our mouth with a message worth sharing. He overflows us with grace, mercy and love not just for our own satisfaction but to share with everyone who we come in contact with. Even in the privacy of our home in quiet conversation with hushed voices with our closest companion or maybe our spouse using words not of love and affirmation but malice and ill will can cause damage in the heavenly realm. We are given the authority of binding and loosing in the Name of Jesus. The fire started by my tongue is so that others will want to know the God I serve and His Son who saved me. The message is all about love. I am the messenger. Lord, make my heart and mouth agree. Cleanse me of anything not worthy to be communicated along with Your Great Love!

Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.