Am I Kind?

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A few years ago, my youngest son had surgery. As we were waiting to be called back, we met a man in the waiting area who obviously loved to talk. My youngest loves to talk to people who seem to need it, and let me tell you it was some conversation. The gentleman was very nice, but obviously very lonely. He talked… and talked… and talked…so much so that when he (we’ll call him Mr. S) was called back to get prepped for his surgery, he still talked to my youngest a minute while the nurse waited for him to finish.

Several hours later, my son’s surgery was finished. I was in recovery with him as he was waking up from anesthesia. Still groggy and being acclimated to his surroundings these were his words: “I wonder if Mr. S is okay.”

My heart melted a little. Who wakes up from surgery concerned about a stranger? I have never been a prouder momma.

I pondered that question for the rest of the day: “Who wakes up from surgery concerned about a stranger”?

I tried to come up with the word to describe the person who thinks of others, who talks to people in a waiting room they’ve never met as they are facing their own fears, a person who wakes up from anesthesia concerned about someone else.

The word I finally was satisfied with was kind.

I had forgotten what kindness looked like.

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart:”

Kindness takes so little effort, but it can literally change a person’s entire day.

Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith.”

Kindness wasn’t something my youngest had to work at. It was natural because He had the Holy Spirit living in him.

Kindness isn’t something we have to work up to. We have it when we have the Holy Spirit living in us. It’s just a matter of whether we use what we already have.

I may have a hammer in my garage, but unless I pick it up and use it, it’s worthless.

So it is with kindness. We must utilize what God has placed inside of us.

As I remember the sweet words of my youngest waking up from surgery that day, I am reminded that kindness comes from within. It’s a choice whether I use the tool God has already placed in me.

So today, instead of swinging the hammer of hate, apathy, and selfishness, I’m choosing to be kind. I’m choosing to remember what kindness looks like.

Is God Just My Spotter?

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image of spotter two

If you’ve been around me at all, you probably know I’ve been reading a lot of Andrew Murray’s books. The one I’m currently studying is called Absolute Surrender and I highly recommend it.

As I was reading along a few months ago, Mr. Murray took us to Galatians 3:1-3. It says, “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?”

Part of verse three says, “…after beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete (KJV says “perfect”) by the flesh?”

That really hit me.

Did I receive Christ by the Spirit? Yes.

Am I receiving and acting on that power today? That’s where things get iffy.

Am I depending on Christ’s Spirit in me, or am I depending on my own self will and determination to live the Christian life?

Am I white knuckling the Word, or resting in the completion that Christ has gifted in me?

Again… all of those questions are answered “yes”, or “no” depending on the day.

His Spirit is in us for a purpose and yet I find myself thinking I have to figure out how to get all these “good works” accomplished that He has called me to fulfill. Christ is in me to achieve all He has called me to do, not so He can simply whisper where I’m supposed to go and leave me to it, but also to empower me every step of the way.

I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

This verse reminds us that not only does God call us to good works, He is the One who accomplishes it in us.

I just found this verse in Proverbs10:22, and I got so excited. Listen to what it says: “The LORD’s blessing enriches, and struggle adds nothing to it.”

I’ve deceived myself into believing that I’m supposed to work out my completion in Christ. I’m supposed to struggle. Each day, I’ve taken Jesus by the hand and powered on in my own ability. Sometimes dragging Him along instead of submitting to His lead.

I’m discovering though that I will never be able to grow in Christ. Only His Spirit can accomplish that in me. My flesh, my will, my determination is not what makes me a mature Christian. Only my absolute dependence on Christ makes me complete.

Look at all the times we have failed Christ when our intentions were good. Look at all the times we made new commitments, renewed vows, or even woke up thinking “Today, I am going to do this, or not do that,  like yesterday”, but lunchtime arrives, and we look at the day and wonder, “What happened? I was so determined to make it work this time.”

I’ll tell you what happened. We tried to do it in our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We forget this verse is describing Christ’s strength in us.

It’s not describing walking along the path of our Christian life in our own strength and when we need help, Christ giving us a boost. Philippians 4:13 is reminding us that in order to do anything, it’s about Christ’s strength, not just using Him as our spotter.

Are you familiar with who a spotter is? This isn’t something that’s usually in my scope of everyday life, but my oldest is into weightlifting, so I’m learning.

Wikipedia describes the action of spotting in this way, “Spotting in weight or resistance training, is the act of supporting another person during a particular exercise, with an emphasis on allowing the participant to lift or push more than they could normally do safely.”

How often have we treated the Holy Spirit as a spotter when He simply wants us to be the weights in His arms. Picture that…we are the weights, not the weightlifter. That’s a huge difference.

It’s His job to lift us to heights we never realized were possible.

It’s by His strength we are able to join with others in tasks we never imagined.

It’s by His power we can do all things because as a weight in His hand, we are relying on His force, His strength, not ours.

That’s when verses like Psalm 112:7 are possible. It says,He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the LORD.”

I’ve actually memorized this verse and tried to will myself into the completion of it in my life. In the past, I start to imagine a bad scenario that may, or may not happen soon. I remember this verse and will myself not to fear. That works for a while, but what I’m finding is that I need to go a step further.

When I’m simply a weight in the arms of God, I rest in His strength. I tell Him I can’t accomplish this verse without His muscle, and He lifts me by His strength into the empowerment of this verse.

Then, I really and truly do not fear bad news because I’m living in His strength. He will pack me where I need to go. He will lift me to where I need to be and because I am in absolute surrender to a faithful, trustworthy God, His strength becomes my reality.

“O, foolish Galatians…”

“O, foolish Christians…”

“O, foolish Melissa…”

Our Lord never intended for us to complete our lives on this earth in the power of the flesh. Our God has given us everything we need to live our Christian faith and it’s not by willpower, it’s by His strength alone. Simply and totally Him.

Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.
Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

That’s His desire for you. Rest in His arms today and let Him lift you higher than you ever thought possible.

*image by fitness19.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

Fruit in the Lowlands

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The other day my husband and I were discussing the Biblical account of Zacchaeus. You remember, he’s the “wee, little man” who climbed up in the sycamore tree to see Jesus in Luke 19.

As we were talking, he told me about a discovery that he had made recently. He said the name “sycamore” actually meant “rebirth”. So, when Zacchaeus chose to climb that sycamore tree, he was choosing to be in a place where rebirth could occur.

In those first steps to find Jesus, he was trying to draw nigh to God. We know from James 4:8 that when we draw nigh to God, He will draw nigh to us. He just can’t help Himself. It’s who He is.

This discussion led me to look up every time the word sycamore was used in the Bible.

Take a guess. How many times do you think sycamore occurs in the Bible?

There are eight occurrences in the Bible regarding sycamore trees. Almost every single occurence refers to where they were grown. They were grown in the land of Judah in a place called Shephelah. It just so happens that Shephelah is in the lowlands. It’s actually the term used for the whole region of the lowlands.

Take a minute to read First Kings 10:27. It says, “The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar as abundant as sycamore in the Judean foothills.”

Other references in First Chronicles 27:28, Second Chronicles 1:15, and Second Chronicles 9:27 also talk about where sycamores grew.

The fact that sycamores are grown in the lowlands reminded me that rebirth can only happen when we humble ourselves, when we are willing to seek God’s face in meekness and when we are willing be in the lowlands.

I think Christians and non-Christians alike don’t enjoy being in the lowlands of life. We all enjoy riding high on life. The lowlands? No, thank you. We are fine on the mountain. When we do have a lowland experience, we want to run through it quickly, but we want to meander as slowly as possible when we’re on the mountain. At least, that’s how I am.

In studying the geography of the lowlands, I found this: “the Shephelah was a zone of low, rolling foothills separating the high, rugged hill country of Judah from the flat, open coastal plain. The heavy runoff from the western slopes of the hill country flows into a series of six broad, shallow valleys furrowed into the soft limestone of the Shephelah, each of which is a focal point of rich, agricultural life. Historically, the Shephelah as a whole, and its six valleys in particular, has been a buffer zone between the hill country and the coast…” The Rose Then and Now Bible Map goes on to say that people in the Shephelah were more rural and conservative than on either side, but “the Shephelah, a true land between was desired by both.”

Even though the Shephelah was in the lowlands, it was desired because of the agriculture, because of the fruit it was capable of bearing. I pray that is how we begin to look at our lowlands, as places of rich fruit.

The mountains are beautiful yes, but its climate is not conducive to growing much of anything. Have you ever seen huge fields of wheat, or a massive grove of fruit trees growing on the side of a mountain? Not usually. But, in the lowlands of the Shephelah there is rich agriculture. Everyone wanted the Shephelah region due to the yield that it could produce.

We should desire our lowlands as well knowing that in those places God can till and tend and grow fruit that we never dreamed possible.

John 15:8 says, “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.”

Since fruit is in the lowlands, that’s where we want to be, isn’t it?

When we understand the ministry of the lowlands, we find that they are places of replenishment, of rekindling and a place to develop a deeper level of trust in the Lord. The lowlands can be tough, but they are places of rebirth where everything has the possibility of change. The lowlands provide a feeding of our soul that otherwise would be missed if we were only on the mountains. Refinement requires being at peace in the lowlands.

An amazing example of fruit in the lowlands are the early Christians in the book of Acts. The book of Acts doesn’t have to say the word fruit for it to be obvious that a massive harvest was being produced. The Christians in the book of Acts were definitely in the lowlands physically speaking. They were being ridiculed, thrown in jail, beaten, and even killed for the cause of Christ, but the fruit they bore was remarkable. In fact, their lowland experience is still bearing fruit today. They took advantage of their time in the lowlands. They trusted God for the fruit.

Psalm 25:10 says, “All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.”

Let’s be thankful for every path that He leads us to. Let’s not run through our lowlands as quickly as possible, but absorb every moment, every lesson, and every opportunity to bear fruit. Before you know it, we will be headed to the mountain once again with a bag full of fruit, shallowness of soul gone forever and a richer trust in the Lord than we ever thought possible.

Ask yourself, “Am I in a lowland experience right now?”

If you are, are you thankful?

Why, or why not?

What changes can I make to bear more fruit in my lowland experiences?

Refinement requires being thankful for all the lessons God has for us, even if it means we are in the lowlands.

** Image by ExploreTraveler

A New Perspective

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Several years ago, my family found a wild blackberry patch growing in the field behind our home. My youngest son and I would go out about every third day and pick all the blackberries that we can find. It was so fun to pick these amazing berries right in our back yard.

One morning as we were out picking, I happened to drop one. I bent to pick it up and ended up on my knees. I looked up and lo and behold there were more beautiful, ripe blackberries in spots I never dreamed. I was amazed that I hadn’t seen them before. If I had still been standing, I would have never realized that they were there. I recognized in that moment that I just needed the right perspective to see all the fruit. I needed to be on my knees, looking up.

Over the years, verses like Matthew 12:33 and John 15:5 and 8 have frustrated me. They say things like, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit.” “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” “…for the tree is known by its fruits.” Frustrating stuff because I know I’m a disciple of Christ. I think I’m abiding. I think I want God to receive glory, but where’s the fruit?

As I was kneeling on the ground that morning, I realized the fruit is there. When I am abiding in Christ, when His Spirit has invaded every part of me at my request, and when I am seeking His face with every fiber of my being, the fruit is there. I just need the right perspective.

The right perspective is not getting distracted with the overgrowth, the thorns, or what fruit is in someone else’s bowl. The right perspective is acquired when I am on my knees, looking up at my Savior. Then, I am able to see the fruit that He has allowed in my life.

Second Thessalonians 3:13 says, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”

When we don’t readily see the fruit in a situation, we can grow weary. Our tasks become harder when we don’t see results. By having the right perspective though, we are in a position to better see His fruit in our life. When we are on our knees looking to Him, the thorns aren’t so tangled and the nettles aren’t invading our senses quite so much. We can actually see the fruit and be encouraged.

Let’s look up and ask God to show us the fruit that He has allowed to grow in our lives.

Has that teenager in your life decided that they won’t immediately leave when you enter the room?

Will the neighbors let you pray for them now?

Has your spouse decided to give your marriage one more try?

Has your youngest quit complaining about going to church?

There is fruit. We just need to kneel down to see it.

I also love to think about when we get to our heavenly home, we will have the best perspective of all. As we are on our knees before our Father, I have no doubt that He will pull away the branches, the thorns and the weeds that were as big as we were in this life, lift our precious faces and say, “Look at all this fruit, sweet one. Look what you allowed Me to grow in your life.”

As we look up with His gentle prodding, I believe our jaws will drop. I believe our faces will light up, and we will be amazed at all the fruit that grew in our lives without our even realizing it.

We will be assured that every task was worth it. Every opportunity did bear fruit. We just needed the right perspective. We needed His.

*image by fruitgrowersnews.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

Being a Fast Paced Christian

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Psalm 119:32 in Young’s Literal Translation says, “The way of Thy commands I run, For Thou dost enlarge my heart!”

So many times when I imagine my Christian life, I picture a slow plodding, a testing of each step to make sure there are no land mines and honestly, a rather slow experience overall. The psalmist in this passage? He describes a Christian life that is filled with running. He is so sure of God’s commands that he is able to run forward because he is sure of the steps that God has before him.

Are we able to run as well?

We are. When we know God’s commands, we are able to not just meander along, but run. We can move faster than we imagined because we can be sure of our steps. We don’t have to second guess everything because our path is clear before us.

So, what are some of our Lord’s commands?

Jesus Himself said that the greatest command is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matthew 22). So, we can run in that experience with Him. There is no need to be shy in His presence, or to avoid Him. He has called us to love Him and He has made a way in our hearts for that to happen, so we can run into His arms with complete abandon knowing that loving Him with unrestraint is His command.

Another sure command of the Lord is to love our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, Jesus calls this the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22). So, we know that this is another path in which we can run.

We can run towards telling our neighbors about Jesus, because we know that we would want to be told about Jesus. We can run towards forgiveness because we know we want to be forgiven. We can run to help someone who needs encouragement because we know we want encouragement. We can run to our knees for a request for a friend because we know we cherish the prayers of others.

You see? Running is easy when we are running in His commands.

I love the second part of Psalm 119:32. It tells me that when I run in His commands, my heart enlarges. My love can’t help but grow. Maybe I don’t feel like encouraging anyone today, but I know I need encouragement. Instead of waiting and sulking for someone to encourage me, I run in His commands by loving someone as I want to be loved (in this case, a simple word of encouragement) and He enlarges my heart. I end up feeling encouraged myself because He is always faithful to enlarge my heart when I am running in His commands.

I can’t help but think of The Grinch and how “his heart grew three sizes that day.” Maybe that’s why we all love that part of the movie so much (the 1966 version!). Our spirit knows that’s what God does for us when we run in His commands. He enlarges our hearts. He puts a goofy grin on our face and we are able to serve others in genuine love.The truth is, when we are faithful to run in our Lord’s commands, He fulfills His part of the bargain. He empowers us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. He lifts our spirits in ways we can’t imagine. He enlarges out hearts to love as we could never love before, even more than Mr. Grinch.

So, let’s lay down the idea of a quiet, slow Christian life and start running in His commands. Let’s stop looking for land mines and take Him at His Word that He will enlarge our hearts to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let’s stop limping around injured and afraid and run into arms wide open for discovery.

Let’s pick up the pace and run!

My Story    Seeking Heart Ministries

A Good Day to Praise

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image of hands lifted in praise

Psalm 150 verse 6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!”

So many times I am guilty of reading a verse of Scripture, thinking what a great idea it is, but then falling short of implementing it.

Psalm 150:6 invites everything that has breath to praise the Lord. So today, instead of reading through Scripture and thinking it’s a good idea, let’s take a moment and actually do it.

Father, I praise You today for Your awesome greatness. There is no one like You. You formed every planet and creature with only Your word. You formed mankind out of dust and breathed into him the breath of life. You are Creator and I praise You.

Father, I praise You today for Your kindness. You sent Your only Son to live among us and sacrifice Himself for us on the Cross. Your Word tells us that Your kindness leads us to repentance and I praise You today that no kindness is greater than Yours.

Father, I praise You today for Your healing power. Whether You choose to heal on this planet, or in eternity is not the point, but the fact that there is hope in You is why I give You praise today. You are the Great Physician and I praise You that nothing is beyond Your ability. We always have hope in You. You are the Great Healer of all and I praise You today.

Father, I praise You for Your power. I thank You for leaving Your Holy Spirit with us to empower us with the same strength that raised Jesus from the dead. Nothing is too difficult for Thee and we look to You for the ability to run through troops and leap over walls (Psalm 18:29).

Father, I praise You today for Your unbridled love of us. You never let go. You never give up. You are the Great Shepherd that cradles the lost sheep in His arms. You are the Great Defender of the lambs and Protector of our souls. Nothing can strip us from Your hand (John 10:28-29). I praise You today that we are safe and secure in Your arms.

Father, I give you praise today and ask You to remind me to praise You daily in the way in which You deserve. Let every breath I take breathe out praise to You.

You alone are holy.

You alone are God and I choose to praise You today.

What are you praising Him for today?

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by myocn.net

 

Getting Through Today

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John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”

In Andrew Murray’s book Absolute Surrender, Murray says that the branch’s only job is to stay connected to the Vine. In other words, the branch doesn’t have to worry with where its nourishment will come from. It doesn’t concern itself with how much fruit it’s producing. It doesn’t even have to fret over what the future will look like. The branch’s only job is to stay connected to the Vine. In Scripture, this state of being connected is also called abiding.

Watchman Nee, in his book Sit, Walk, Stand, describes abiding as sitting in a chair. When you sit, he explains, you have faith the chair will hold you up. Your whole weight is depending on the chair.

I love that picture! It sounds easy. After all, I sit in chairs all the time. But, I confess, spiritually speaking, sitting, abiding, staying connected to the Vine does not come naturally. In this season of my life though, I am learning that this truly is the best way to live.

When I am connected to the Vine, to Jesus Christ alone, when I am abiding in Him, I am not filled with stress, I am filled with Him – His strength, His joy, His love.

So, whatever results happen (or don’t) I’m great with… because it’s all up to Him. If He decides I need lots of strength for what He has for me today? No problem. I’m attached to Him already, so I already have what I need at my disposal.

If He decides it’s time for me to forgive? No problem. His forgiveness is already flowing through me.

Need some love today? No problem. His love is already in me.

See how simple it is? Yet, most of the time, we make it so complicated.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:28, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” He goes on to say in verse 30 of this same chapter, “…For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Let’s choose the easy path today, the less complicated perfect will of our Father and simply stay connected to our Vine, Jesus. Let’s sit in His presence, breathe Him in and de-stress knowing He’s got it all and simply abide as He has called us to knowing that all the branch has to do is stay connected to the Vine. He does the rest.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

** Photo by Kerry Vale Vineyard  “Adopt a Vine”

Perfect Peace in Difficult Times

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Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee: for he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.”

I love these verses. In fact, if you have ever received a card, or an e-mail from me, most likely these verses were below my name. I don’t know if it’s what I would consider my life verse, but it’s a seasonal verse for sure. After all, how can you resist the only formula known to man for peace that actually works? It’s not only true because it’s the Word of God, but I also know from experience how true it really is.

Think about it. When you are upset about a situation, or something that is on the horizon, or even an emergency that hits, are you more peaceful when you keep replaying the event over and over in your mind, or when you speak the name of Jesus? Are you more peaceful in an emergency room thinking about what all the doctor may choose to do, or when you are focusing on the fact that God is your ultimate Healer?

I was just sitting in a doctor’s office yesterday and let me tell you I was letting my mind run away with me. What if she thinks I’m nuts? What if she takes a biopsy? What if she wants a biopsy and makes me come back? What if she draws my blood? How much will all this cost? Then, the Holy Spirit reminded me to focus on Him. My mind was in such a dither that all I could do was whisper the name of Jesus. Eventually, I was able to go through some ABC’s of who God is… “God, you are amazing. I trust You. God, you are bold. I trust You. God, you are compassionate. I trust You…” I was even able to remember a few Scriptures and say those as well. Which helped me more? You know it! Focusing on the Lord.

Let’s open these verses a little more and see how the Amplified Bible translates them. It says: “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],
Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].
Trust [confidently] in the Lord forever [He is your fortress, your shield, your banner], for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].”

These verses tell us that not only is perfect peace possible, but constant peace as well! Constant peace! How do we get it? With a steadfast mind. What is a steadfast mind? It says that a steadfast mind is committed and focused on the Lord.

I can be committed to something without being focused on it at all times. I am committed to my husband, but I am not focused on him continually (Sorry, honey.). That’s why we have to commit to date nights, hikes in the woods together and conversations where we are looking each other in the eye without distractions. Our commitment stays strong when we focus on each other.

When we commit ourselves to God, no doubt we are all in, but our focus can shift at times. Life can crowd in on us. So, these verses remind us to not only commit, but focus like a laser beam on who He is. Then, the peace we all crave reigns in our life.

The next part of these verses say, “Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”

We have peace because we are focused on Him and who He is. When we are focused on Him, we are pressed in to Him as close as we can get. We are trusting and taking refuge in Him and this gives us hope which leads to confidence in what He is going to do in our lives.

Think about a hunter who has been sitting in his deer stand for hours when all of a sudden his target pops over the horizon. Do you think he is looking anywhere but at his target? His confident hope has been focused on this objective all morning. He is laser focused on his commitment to feed his family with this deer. That’s how we need to be with God. We need to remember that He provides for us in every way, so our commitment to Him keeps us focused on who He is. God is our prey and our minds are the gun. And, the strength to stay on target? The Holy Spirit.

So, when I am sitting in the doctor’s office and remember (focus in on the fact) that my God is good and that there is no darkness in Him at all (I John 1:5) I have a confident hope that even if the doctor tells me bad news, God is not a mean God. He is good and has good in it for me. When I am sitting in the doctor’s office and I am remembering that God is my Provider, I start to rehearse what miracles of provision has already taken place and I then look with confident hope at how God will provide for these expenses as well. We are able to confidently hope when our minds are focused on Him. When we have hope, we are strong because He is our strength and His strength is everlasting. It never runs out.

Jesus says in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” He’s left His peace for us to take hold of, so let’s grab it and shine like the stars we are meant to be, (Philippians 2:16).

My Story to Peace

Seeking Hearts Ministries

Forgiveness in the Holidays – Part 2

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This week’s blog is part 2 on the subject of forgiving and how to come to a place of forgiveness. If you missed part 1, be sure to click the following link (Part 1) because we are jumping off the deep end into point number three today.

Step Three in how to get to a place of forgiveness is that you know God is going to get ‘em. (I warned you we were jumping off the deep end.)

This is something that we all feel funny thinking, but you need to know that forgiveness is not about letting people off the hook. Forgiveness is actually placing people who have wronged you into the hands of a mighty, powerful God who is in love with you and wants the best for you. He’s a little prejudice when it comes to you and that’s who you want taking care of your situation!

Here are a few examples of what God says about people who have tried to harm you:

Deuteronomy 32:35, “Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay. In time their foot will slip, for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly.”

Vengeance means – “infliction of punishment in return for a wrong; retribution.” So,God is not saying people haven’t harmed you. He is just telling us that He will take care of the punishment. You can be free and go on living your life while He remembers the wrong and pursues justice for you.

Psalm 18:47-49 says, “God—He gives me vengeance and subdues peoples under me. He frees me from my enemies. You exalt me above my adversaries; You rescue me from violent men. Therefore I will praise You, Yahweh, among the nations; I will sing about Your name.”

So, again we see that He frees us and allows us to praise Him daily while He is handling those who have wronged us.

Just a quick side note here – Does God expect us to keep our mouths shut and not be able to be heard?

This has almost killed me in some of the circumstances we have been in lately…knowing that God wanted me to be quiet and not “speak my mind”… not because He didn’t want me to be heard, but in order to protect me in ways I didn’t understand at the time. The really awesome thing though is we can ALWAYS pour our heart out to Him even when He is telling us not to “speak our mind”. He is always with us wanting us to tell Him how we feel and what we are struggling with. There is such an amazing release when we lay it all out before Him. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.” The God of the universe is saying, “I want to hear from you.”

Several months ago I was in my car travelling replaying a situation over and over again in my mind. Instead of a release, I just kept getting madder and madder and madder. It finally dawned on me that I needed to talk to God and not just myself, so I poured it before Him. Instead of replaying it to myself, I spoke it out loud to Him. It was an incredible experience! You wouldn’t think it would help that much, but it does. So, I encourage you to verbally release it all to Him. Tell Him how mad you are and what people have done to you. Name names! It really does help.

Here is a great example in Scripture where David is pouring his heart out to God: “LORD, God of vengeance— God of vengeance, appear.
Rise up, Judge of the earth; repay the proud what they deserve.
LORD, how long will the wicked— how long will the wicked gloat?
They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.
LORD, they crush Your people; they afflict Your heritage.
They kill the widow and the foreigner and murder the fatherless. They say, “The LORD doesn’t see it. The God of Jacob doesn’t pay attention.”
Pay attention, you stupid people! Fools, when will you be wise?
Can the One who shaped the ear not hear, the One who formed the eye not see?
The One who instructs nations, the One who teaches man knowledge— does He not discipline?
The LORD knows man’s thoughts; they are meaningless. LORD, happy is the man You discipline and teach from Your law
to give him relief from troubled times until a pit is dug for the wicked.
The LORD will not forsake His people or abandon His heritage,
for justice will again be righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who stands up for me against the wicked? Who takes a stand for me against evildoers? If the LORD had not been my helper, I would soon rest in the silence ⌊of death⌋.
If I say, “My foot is slipping,” Your faithful love will support me, LORD.
When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.” – Psalm 94:1-19

David was genuine in his feelings and in his thoughts, and we know from Scripture that God calls him a man after His own heart. We can know from the example of David that not only is it just acceptable to pour out our hearts to God, but He wants that intensity with us. He wants that honesty.

David was also truthful about the fact that his foot was starting to slip in this matter. I take that to mean his mouth was getting the better of him, or his thoughts were running away from him, but he knew that His God was there supporting him with His faithful love and was not only helping David get through the situation, but was also in the process of taking care of the ones who had hurt him.

Okay, so I hope you see that God does want you to be heard. He just wants to be the One doing the listening.

So, back off the rabbit trail and back on to point three which reminds us that God will get those who try to harm us.

Psalm 94:20-23 says, “Can a corrupt throne— one that creates trouble by law— become Your ally? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD is my refuge; my God is the rock of my protection. He will pay them back for their sins and destroy them for their evil. The LORD our God will destroy them.”

Do I know why God doesn’t punish those who have wronged us when we think they should be punished? No, but I do know that our God is worthy of our trust. We can trust His timing because we know He loves us. The Bible assures us that His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts and His ways are so much better than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), so we know that His timing and His ways are best because He sees the whole picture.

When you think you have to take care of things yourself, that God doesn’t care, or doesn’t see what’s happening in your life, when the devil has made you forget how much your God woos you like we discussed in Session One of God’s Love (YouTube Session), this is your verse to hang on to:

Isaiah 35:4- “Say to them that are of a fearful heart [that’s why we run out and get into trouble a lot of times…because we’re fearful ; we’re afraid that God isn’t seeing what people are doing to us and saying about us], Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; he will come and save you.”

Isaiah 35:5-6 says, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”

Sometimes, unforgiveness makes us so hard hearted that we simply can’t see anything around us but how we were wronged. We can’t hear anything but what they said to us. We can’t think about anything but what we should have said back, or what we will do the next time we have to see them, but forgiveness…leaving the situation in God’s capable hands… opens our eyes and allows us to hear. Isaiah 35 says that we will be able to sing and be refreshed. Forgiving people allows the Spirit to pour Living water over our dry, parched places.

 I’m not saying that God doesn’t use the court system, or other people to right a wrong, but I am saying that it’s up to Him, not us, and not the way we can manipulate things.

Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook, it’s about being free.

We are not stupid when we forgive. We are super smart because we are allowing the God of the universe to handle things for us. It’s like He steps in front of us and says, “I’ve got this.”

Micah 7:7 says, “But I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”

Step Four to forgiveness is knowing that your relationship with God is worth more than whatever you have to forgive. Our beautiful Savior who covers you with His wings every day and night is worth anything.

Psalm 18:16-20 says, “He reached down from heaven and took hold of me; He pulled me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my distress, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; He repaid me according to the cleanness of my hands.”

Being clean before the Lord is so much better than hanging on to any un-forgiveness. Keeping our Robe of righteousness on (which is Jesus Himself) is so much better than remembering wrongs that seem to be forgotten by everyone but you. Nothing is worth harming our walk with God.

Step Five to forgiveness is trusting our God to be the Judge.

Psalm 75:2 says, “‘When I choose a time, I will judge fairly.’”

Lamentations 3:59-62 says,LORD, You see the wrong done to me; judge my case. You see all their malice, all their plots against me. LORD, You hear their insults, all their plots against me. The slander and murmuring of my opponents attack me all day long.”

Be assured Your God sees and hears everything! You can rest in His judgment because He already knows all the testimony and all the facts. You don’t have to worry about being heard. He hears you. He wants you to pour your heart out, but not because He doesn’t know what’s going on, it’s because of His love for you. Song of Solomon 2:14 says,My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crevices of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

That’s why God wants to hear from you. He just loves the sound of your voice.

Do not think that your God does not know what happened to you. Do not listen to that voice in your head that says God will not repay the person that hurt you. Do not believe that you have to be the one to repay, or punish, but do remember that it is in His hands, in His time and needs to be in His way so that you can be free.

Forgiveness is not about being tricked into letting someone off the hook. It’s about being free.

So, as you are surrounded by people this Holiday Season that you can usually avoid remember that forgiveness is about being free. Forgiveness can only come through the Holy Spirit and He wants us to forgive not to let people off the hook, but to rely on Him and trust Him completely with the outcome knowing that we are loved more than we ever realized. Enjoy this Season knowing that even though forgiveness is not easy it’s always worth it.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

Image by US Health News

Forgiveness in the Holidays – Part 1

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As we are all in the middle of this Holiday Season, some of us are having the time of our lives being with family we don’t see as often, neighbors we seldom find at home and friends whom we love dearly, but schedules often don’t match.

Others of us are quite stressed dealing with family, friends and neighbors. We can avoid them during the year, but not at Christmas. Old wounds pop up and the stress mounts. So, as weird as the timing may seem, I feel led to share how God has helped me to deal with unforgiveness in my life.

I want to be very honest and tell you that forgiveness is something that does not come easily for me and I am lots better at forgiving things that have happened to me personally than things that have happened to my husband, or especially to my boys.

Oftentimes, what I struggle with is not the act of forgiving as much as what does forgiveness look like moving forward. I believe that forgiveness does not look the same in every situation. The process usually is, but not necessarily what it looks like afterwards.

For example, if you have been abused as a child, or as an adult, and through the power of the Holy Spirit you are able to release that situation into the hands of our Righteous Judge, know that forgiveness in that situation does not mean that you will stay with a person who abuses you.

If you are being hurt, forgiveness does not mean that you stay and keep getting hurt. If you are being wounded, forgiveness does not mean you stay in a situation that continues to bring you harm.

Forgiveness is being completely free of bitterness, anger and the hurt that was caused. Forgiveness is not about being unwise. It’s about being free.

Forgiveness is not trusting someone who you know will hurt your children just like they hurt you. That is not what God expects when He is calling us to forgive.

Another example of being called to forgive could be if someone lied about you and everyone in your neighborhood believes it. Sometimes, forgiveness requires living your life, doing what God has called you to do each and every day and allowing your character to speak for you. Not cussing people out, not being cruel when that person comes around, but simply being who God is calling you to be. God is calling us to be people of grace, love and mercy shining the light of Jesus. People will notice how you respond to a person who wrongs you. It may take a while, but God makes sure the truth comes out. Here are some great examples of what forgiveness may look like in this kind of situation:

Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.”

So, you see? Forgiveness in one situation may look like getting away, but not allowing the hurt to come with you. Whereas in another situation, forgiveness may look like a person holding their tongue from what they really want to say while allowing God to show others who you are in Him.

Both situations can only be accomplished through the Lord and may seem impossible, but Jesus says in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Jesus readily admitted that certain things were only possible with God and I believe forgiveness is one of them.

There are many other ways God may ask you to show forgiveness. These are just a couple of examples to help us understand that forgiveness may look different for every person reading this depending on what they are called to forgive.

So, how do we come to a place of forgiveness?

Can it be instantaneous?

Can it take a few months, or even a few years?

Simply put…yes. I have had all of the above.

The answer is that it will take as long as you and God need it to take.

Let me just say as well, that even when you have truly forgiven someone, things can still pop back up. A random thought, a word, a look, or even a Facebook message can trigger an issue you thought you had forgiven long ago. Don’t stuff it down. Know that God wants you to deal with it once again with Him. He never tires of helping us get through our struggles.

I think when Jesus told Peter to forgive 70×7, He knew that oftentimes the forgiveness needs to happen every time we remember the offense. Sometimes, people really do wrong us over and over and over when we can’t get out of a situation, but most of the time it’s our remembrance of the event that causes the need for multiple times of forgiveness. Our minds just keep replaying it and replaying it and replaying it and we are called to forgive every single time. Again, we can only do that through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Just so we are on the same wavelength let me tell you how the dictionary defines forgiveness: “To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example); to renounce anger or resentment against”.

Absolve means you do away with it; you cancel it. Do they owe you something? Absolutely, there is a debt involved, but you are choosing to cancel that debt so you are no longer tied to that situation in any way. As long as someone owes you something, you are still connected and tied to one another, but when you release that debt…no more strings…you are absolutely free.

The other part of that definition says, “…to renounce anger, or resentment — to give up, esp. by formal announcement; to reject.”

So, you are rejecting anger and resentment…that’s forgiveness.

Again the question: How do we get to a place of forgiveness? How do we get to the place of rejecting the anger and resentment?

1 – We have got to know that God loves us.

You see how it always comes back to that? That’s your foundation. (If you haven’t been able to see the YouTube session on God’s love, I highly recommend you do so. Knowing how much He loves us is the foundation of our trust in Him and knowing He can be trusted is how we are able to forgive. Here’s the link : God’s Love – Session 1)

Forgiveness is another layer of trusting God and we can’t trust God fully until we know how much He loves us.

Why is that so important?

God is sovereign. Whatever comes into our lives, passes through His hands(remember in John 10:27-29 Jesus says He will never let go of us so, everything must pass through His hands). Whether we view it as good, or bad, whatever He allows is to bring us closer to Him and closer to the people that He has created us to be.

How can you possibly trust the hands of someone you don’t believe loves you? How can you possibly believe that everything (good, or bad) that has passed through those hands is for your ultimate good, if you don’t know He loves you?

The first step to forgiving anyone is knowing God loves you enough to take care of you in any situation.

 2- Second step to forgiveness is focusing on God and not the situation.

You know He loves you and now you are going to stay focused on Him.

You are not looking around at what everyone has done to you. You are focused on Him.

I alluded to this passage a minute ago, but we are going to read it in its entirety now.

Matthew 18:21-33 says, “Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ ‘I tell you, not as many as seven,’ Jesus said to him, ‘but 70 times seven. For this reason, the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began to settle accounts, one who owed 10,000 talents was brought before him. Since he had no way to pay it back, his master commanded that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed. When the other slaves saw what had taken place, they were deeply distressed and went and reported to their master everything that had happened. Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’”

This is an amazing illustration of Jesus reminding us to not focus on what people have done to us, but rather focus on how much we have been forgiven ourselves.

That’s so hard. I know it’s hard, but it’s a great way to be able to forgive people. We must remember that we had such a huge sin debt and our beautiful, merciful, Prince Charming of a God has forgiven every bit of it.

We will be too busy being thankful to worry about what someone has done to us because our focus is on Him.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep the mind ⌊that is⌋ dependent ⌊on You⌋ in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.”

So, we can remain secure in our forgiveness of others by our minds being dependent on our God and remembering who He is and being focused on His love for us.

 Forgiveness is about what God did for us and not what someone did to us.

It’s not about comparing whose sin is bigger, it’s remembering to be thankful for how much God has forgiven us.

That’s where I’m going to cut off today’s blog, but know there are 3 more points on how to forgive coming in the next blog. When you are trying to forgive, I pray that you will be honest with God about the difficulty you are having and trust Him to give you the power to forgive every time you see the person, read a Facebook message, or remember the offense. Pour over the Scripture that He shows you from this blog and other resources knowing that He wants you to be free not just during this Holiday Season, but in the year to come as well.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

Image by US Health News