Archive | May, 2014

Small sacrifices

30 May

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family” Matthew 5: 8-9 MSG

Today I had the honor of praying with a mother that lost her daughter. Her not quite woman, no longer child, beloved daughter. Her heart is heavy with grief, a grief I do not know and pray I never do. What I saw in her eyes was something haunted and at the same time, peaceful. Her faith is strong and she knows her child is now with Jesus.

I was incredibly moved by her, but what I found so incredible in her words and heart, was love. She humbly apologized for tearing up, stating she knows that other’s have it worse. She expressed such a gratitude for the time she had with her child, shared a joyful hope of watching her other child grow, she feels blessed to participate in his journey. She was gracious and humbled by the outpouring of friendship she has received from neighbors and family. This woman is strong in Jesus.
Her strength of faith, her tenderness and her sorrow all touched me deeply. Would I be so strong in faith? I would like to think I would. I have had my own grief and found the joy in that, but that took time and my grief was divorce, not the death of my child.

When I see people being so bogged down in their own anger and bitterness, the contrast to this beautiful faith-filled woman is stark. I am not speaking of those that are under fire, or those that struggle with mental illness or chemical imbalances. I am talking about those that are rude or unkind for no apparent reason, those that are so jealous of what other’s have they don’t see their own overflowing blessings. Those that speak out against faith,in bitterness for being slighted, in anger for the life they don’t have, for those that find the negative in every situation.

When you look at the eyes of anger, you are inclined to turn away. This world will tell you to not take it personal, don’t let them get away with it. Christ said to love the least of these. I believe the woman that lost her child but loves the Lord has far more than the one that is filled with anger. We are instructed to be drawn with compassion to love our enemy. We can do this safely from afar or minister directly to the one that is so angry. God didn’t create us to be doormats, through Christ He made us strong and victorious.

The next time someone is rude, rejecting of you, hurtful towards you, pray for them. Instantly. Pray for a compassionate heart. We ask for prayers for those that are reaching out to God already. They are in His hands. Safe and sound. Pray for those that don’t know Him. Pray for those that do and can’t begin to trust Him. To be in relationship with Him.

My heart is so full of compassion for those that don’t know Grace, Mercy, Hope, Forgiveness, Peace… This world is only the beginning. My friend is at peace because she knows one day, she will hug her daughter again. We will all pass from this world. We won’t have the opportunity to do this over. Our actions and our words will stand. Our hearts will be examined, not for how good we were but did we know and share Jesus. Were we transparent in our sin, were we striving to love better, to share the insurmountable, unexplainable Joy of Faith? Not for those we condemned or those we avoided because they were mean to us. Not because we were moved by a woman’s deep sorrow at the loss of her child.

Small sacrifices are as simple as swallowing your pride, loving first and mostly, in spite of.

Love Your Enemies

“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5: 38-48 MSG

Survivor or Thriver

4 May

I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [[a]continue in His love with Me].If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. John 15:9-11 AMP

The word thrive has been buzzing around me this week. It was first posed as a question, then it was stated in a beautiful testimony and today, it was sent as a note of encouragement.

I was asked what it means to thrive (flourish, prosper, blessed). I would explain it as this: When I am one with God, full of the Holy Spirit, I am far more than surviving, I am thriving. Even as I struggle with finances and worldly worries, I am thriving in my soul! I can also tell you this, you cannot thrive without Christ, without hope, gratitude, pain, growth, trust and forgiveness.

When we claim Christ, embrace Christianity, we must understand that because of who He is, we need to know who that makes us.

Thriving isn’t about things going your way, this isn’t about answered prayers, it isn’t about you at all. It is the opposite of what the world tells us. This is about Love, about surrender and trusting God with our lives, with our course, to be enough. What that means is giving up your whole way of looking at things. How you look at yourself, at what you have been taught or told, at your plans, at how you see your past, present and future. Becoming a sponge to soak up all that He will teach you, little by little.

Surrender it all and gain everything. This is not a small thing He asks of us. Your free will means you are given the ability to absorb that Love within your heart or tear yourself apart.

We live in a time of self. We think we are so powerful, that we create our lives, that we can change the course of our lives, by willing something. If that were truth, we would have cures for all diseases, we would have no war, no crime, no hatred. We would all be rich. The lies are obvious… We are not that powerful.

We tend to “adjust” the bible’s teachings, to soften our sin, saying God understands. It’s different now. It’s okay to be unkind in the face of unkindness, it’s okay to live with someone, or be intimate with someone because we love them, even if they are not our spouse, that is what we do now, right? It’s not hurting anyone. If we can quote scripture, pray with power,point out other’s flaws and sins, we can hide the fact that we don’t buy a word of it. Ah! We are so short sighted in who and how these things affect. Understand, I am not saying you won’t go to Heaven. I am saying, you will not thrive in Him. You cannot receive what you don’t believe applies to you.

God never changes. Jesus never changes. The Bible never changes. The Living Word, lives. Our salvation is cemented. This isn’t about salvation. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, what changes is us.

Sin separates us from God, not by removing us from salvation, not by making us unwelcome or unlovable, but through our shame, we break the bond between us. We don’t break our salvation, but we cannot possibly receive all the blessings He wants to bestow on us, if we don’t believe we are cherished enough to receive them. If we look at our sin as inflicting shame upon ourselves and shame as a brick, place that brick between you and God. That is what sin is. There are many bricks. Shame, unbelief, distrust, fear…these are bricks that we place, not God. These are the bricks that Satan holds out to us and we grab onto.

When we are in complete connection, he protects us from our weakness to sin. He keeps us from stepping out of His blessings. We are not called to perfection, we are called to relationship. You are not perfect and you never will be. You will sin. Embrace that fact along with appreciation for all that your journey is, heartbreak and all. It is blessed opportunity to remain in His favor and Loving embrace.

We are the vine, one of many, we are not the vineyard. We have a Father that Lovingly prunes us. If we are stubbornly hanging on to our sin, that is a vine that will not bear fruit. Even if you don’t bear fruit, you can live in a distant belief in God,but you are only surviving, not thriving! That said, trust your farmer with all of it, because sometimes to thrive, the farmer has to remove a healthy branch. It can hurt us because we don’t understand it, but learning to trust Him, eagerly wait for the blessings that come from that pain, is learning that He can be trusted with our whole Vine, That is what it is to thrive in Him.

If you are surviving, and not thriving. Ask yourself if you are making God your cornerstone. Allowing Him to prune your sin, are you living for you or for Him?

John 15
The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

2 Peter 1:4
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Matthew 11:28-29
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Romans 8:37-39
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.