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

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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

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Preserving Time

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Psalm 32:7 says, “Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble; Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”

The Lord will preserve us from trouble. He is our hiding place. He surrounds us with songs of deliverance.

You might be thinking, “Really? All I see is trouble. All I know is abandonment and all I hear is madness.”

Look closely, my friend. He is here. He is your hiding place.

He was in your past.

He will be in your future and He is here now, in your today.

Even if your trouble surrounds you, you are winning your battle because He is on your side. He is in the midst of it, know that He is preserving you.

Remember what it’s like when you are canning vegetables from your garden? Things get hot. This is all in the process of preserving, isn’t it? Through that process, things get hot and uncomfortable (for us and the vegetables). Just like those garden goodies, we would like to stay on the vine, being watered gently daily and basking in the pleasant sunshine. We don’t like the boiling water bath, but that’s the only way true preservation can take place.

God’s preserving methods sometimes feel just as uncomfortable as canning must feel to a vegetable (if it had feelings), but rest assured you are being protected, preserved and sheltered for the winter ahead.

I Peter 5:10 says, “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm,  strengthen and establish you.” What better preserving could we ask for?

To take our example a little farther, nothing tastes sweeter than fresh vegetables from your own garden. You can buy things from a local Farmer’s Market, but the absolute best is knowing that through God’s provision and your own hard work, the food you are eating came from your own plot.

So it is with God’s spiritual provision for us, we can hear other’s testimonies (and they are encouraging), but there is nothing like experiencing our own tests and coming out victorious.

We are then experiencing our own fresh fruit from our own God-given garden. Spiritual preservation can then provide fresh faith for us in the middle of our spiritual winters. We “open up” our jar of faith and remember God has already provided in times past and He can and will provide for our now. We just have to open up what’s already on the shelf. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing.

It is so  frustrating to buy tomato juice at the grocery store only to discover another stack of homemade, well-preserved juice ready to use. Somehow, I always manage to shove a few jars behind some green beans, or jelly of some sort. They are forgotten for a time. When I finally find those jars, they can still be used, but oh, how great it would have been in that homemade soup last week!?

Just like those forgotten jars of juice, we need to remember that God has provided for us. He has preserved us and established us with exactly what is needed. Sometimes though, His provision gets relegated to the back.

Let’s ask Him to help us remember what has already been preserved in us. Let’s open up what He has already established in us! Let’s feast on what He has already provided.

Psalm 32:7 also talks about God surrounding us with songs of deliverance.

I really enjoy singing when I’m in the kitchen, don’t you? There’s nothing like humming (or belting out) a little tune while going about our tasks. So, just imagine that while God is in “our kitchens” preserving us for the coming winter’s trials, He is actually singing over us as He works. I love that! He is molding us and preserving us into the men and women that He designed for us to be.

God is excited throughout the preserving process knowing that what He is making us into now is exactly what we need to be in our future. The process may be hot at times, but He is lovingly watching the clock, knowing exactly how many minutes we need in the boiling water to produce the desired results, all the while singing precious songs over us.

When we allow Him to guide the process, He never allows a jar to crack; He never ruins a batch. He is the Perfect Preserver.

No matter if we are in the middle of needing to hide in Him, being preserved by Him for the coming winter, or hearing clearly His songs of deliverance, let’s rest in Him today.

Rest in Him knowing that He will never leave us, or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will not ever stop loving us (I John 3:1) and He will always perfectly preserve us for the coming days (Psalm 41:2).

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

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Getting Distracted in Prayer

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Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”

When I’ve read this verse in the past, I’ve assumed that the perseverance mentioned is referring to making intercession for the saints. What I’m realizing now, at least for me, is that perseverance is referring to staying alert during prayer.

I’ve always chased a few monkeys in prayer time, but lately it’s been ridiculous. I’m starting well, but then all of the sudden I’m thinking about writing, running, yesterday, tomorrow… you get the idea. I’ll startle back to the fact that I’m supposed to be in prayer and hunker down again only to realize a few minutes later my mind has headed in yet another direction.

As I began to think back to a time where I was more focused during prayer, I realized I needed to pray OUT LOUD. I guess I thought I was a “mature enough” Christian to be focused in silent praying, but I’m not.

I also realized that I need a list. I don’t mechanically go through my list every day, but if I’m struggling, it does help me to focus a little easier.

My list also helps me to remember to faithfully pray for family, church, and more. Otherwise, I can go several days without praying for things I truly meant to be in prayer about.

I heard John Ortberg say once that the monkeys that we often chase during prayer time can indicate what God wants us to pray for. I do stay aware of that and ask often whether that’s the case, but praying versus planning is totally different and I need some help praying. I seem to have the planning part down.

So, how am I choosing to stay alert during prayer?

I am definitely implementing praying out loud.

I’m sticking to a set time and I do have a list.

How are you choosing to stay alert in prayer?

If you have something that works for you, I would love to know. Sharing what works for each other is how we grow and I need some growth, people. Help a girl out. 😊

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Praises

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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.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

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Passing the Baton

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First Chronicles 28:1-21 says, “David assembled all the leaders of Israel in Jerusalem: the leaders of the tribes, the leaders of the divisions in the king’s service, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and cattle of the king and his sons, along with the court officials, the fighting men, and all the brave warriors.
2  Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. It was in my heart to build a house as a resting place for the ark of the LORD’s covenant and as a footstool for our God. I had made preparations to build,
3  but God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’
4  “Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me out of all my father’s household to be king over Israel forever. For He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah, my father’s household, and from my father’s sons, He was pleased to make me king over all Israel.
5  And out of all my sons—for the LORD has given me many sons—He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the LORD’s kingdom over Israel.
6  He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon is the one who is to build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his father.
7  I will establish his kingdom forever if he perseveres in keeping My commands and My ordinances as he is today.’
8  “So now in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and follow all the commands of the LORD your God so that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance to your descendants forever.
9  “As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
10  Realize now that the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be strong, and do it.”
11  Then David gave his son Solomon the plans …
David concluded, “By the LORD’s hand on me, He enabled me to understand everything in writing, all the details of the plan.”
20  Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the LORD’s house is finished.
21  Here are the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of God’s house. Every willing man of any skill will be at your disposal for the work, and the leaders and all the people are at your every command.”

I love this passage so much. David was a very willing participant in passing the baton to the next generation. So many times the current generation hangs on to a position, ideas and even dreams without leaving the proper instructions for those coming after them. A vacuum of knowledge, wisdom and sacrifice is left instead of a thoughtful, and loving exchange of resources.

Think of the dreams God has placed in your heart. What are they?

Do you have dreams of writing?

Dreams of photography?

Dreams of scrapbooking?

Dreams of intercession?

Maybe you think of them as more of a goal, or priority? That’s good too.

Go grab a piece of paper and write them down.

(Having trouble? Spend the next few days asking God to reveal the dreams He has for you, then set a time to come back and fill in the space above. You have God-given dreams and goals and He wants to reveal them to you… just ask.)

Now, look at those goals and dreams you have written down.

How can you pass those intentions to the next generation?

Can you come alongside a fellow writer and mentor them? Attend conferences together? Ask to read their work and encourage them?

How about those dreams of photography? Can you teach a class, write an article, or mentor a younger version of yourself? You could take a group of people with a camera and go for a hike. You can make it fun and see if it sparks anyone’s interest.

Can you pass on the scrapbooks to a relative, or better yet, set a time to scrapbook with a friend, or family member talking about all the memories?

Can you meet up with a fellow intercessor for prayer each week? How about being on the lookout for a younger individual who can come alongside and pray with you?

There are so many opportunities to pass the baton, but this requires wisdom and being sure that your dream is worth sharing.

It is! Every dream is worth sharing with someone, but when we cling to “our” dream and leave scars on those around us who have tried to come near it, we lose the ability to pass it on to future generations.

Just to be clear, if you are ten years old you have someone in your life that can be ready and able to receive your baton. We are never too young to get into the habit of inspiring someone else.

In First Chronicles, King David willingly passed on all of the plans and resources for Solomon to build the Temple. Verse eleven tells us he gave Solomon his plans…wow.

It was originally David’s idea, but instead of David becoming bitter about not reaching his lofty goal, he actually worked harder trying to make the task as accessible as possible for the next generation. David did not hoard ideas, resources, or even honor.

He gave freely.

He passed the baton with grace.

Ask yourself, “What am I hoarding from the next generation?”

That’s hard, I know. Sometimes, we think we are “saving” things for future generations, but are we really? Is that secret recipe worth saving until your dead?

Identify two ideas, or resources that you are currently hoarding and list them on a piece of paper.

What steps can you take to change the hoarding into giving?

As we teach others how to reach their goals (even if we’ve not had the opportunity to finish reaching ours), we allow the baton to be passed.

We see the goal getting closer and closer to the desired end as the baton keeps going from person to person.

We see the beauty of life being a relay instead of a marathon.

We are then able to focus on the next baton that is being handed to us by another, or by God Himself, and move into the next area of refinement with arms stretched both ways… receiving the baton and giving the baton… in complete surrender to Him and in openness to those around us.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by myfaithradio.com

Generous Faith

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In I Kings 17, we see an amazingly true story about a widow and a prophet.

Verses 1-7 tell us there is a famine in the land… and then the story really gets good.

Elijah is commanded by the Lord to go to a specific widow for provisions. When Elijah finds her and asks for help, she explains she only has a little flour and a little oil left. Her plans were to finish the food with her son and die.

I find it so interesting that Elijah’s response to her was, “Don’t be afraid…” and then, he proceeds to give her instructions. He even tells her what the results of her obedience will be.

Did she go home to a room full of flour and oil? No. In fact, verse 16 tells us, “The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the LORD He had spoken through Elijah.” Same flour jar. Same jug of oil. Faith conquering fear at every single meal.

She had to have faith to obey before the miracle happened.

So, what does all this mean?

For me, it’s a great reminder that fear causes me not to give, but faith causes generosity.

What do I mean?

Elijah told her to feed him first. She didn’t feed her son and then see the flour and oil miraculously replenish. She had to give first.

I think that’s why Elijah responded to her excuses by saying, “Don’t be afraid.”

He knew that fear would cause her to hang on to that flour and oil, but faith would cause her to obey.

That’s the human response whether it’s a roller coaster, money, or food in a famine.

Fear causes a tight grip. Faith results in generosity.

When I am believing God for provision… truly leaving it all in His hands… I am a cheerful giver.

When I am fearful of the future, I have a very tight grip on the checkbook. It doesn’t matter if the balance is $8, or $8,000, the result is the same.

When I am fearful, I actually have a tight grip on everything… my family, my friends, my finances, and even my dog. I get on everyone’s nerves… including myself.

Living in faith is just better for everyone!

So, let’s live by the widow’s example. Let’s replace the fear of the future with faith in our God. Faith in the one, true and living God of the universe who has control over flour, oil, finances and everything else under the sun.

Let’s choose to live in the generosity of faith.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

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The Magic Key

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As I was reading this morning, I came across I Kings 3:3. It says, “Solomon loved the LORD by walking in in the statutes of his father David, but he also sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.”

This was such a relief to me. Knowing that Solomon loved God, walked in the ways of God, was blessed mightily by God, but still had hang-ups.

I often find myself trying to be so perfectionistic in my daily walk with Christ, that I lose the joy of it. I’m so busy trying to find the “magic key” to unlock a certain blessing, I lose the remembrance of His love, His mercy and His grace.

I Kings reminds me that Solomon wasn’t perfect, but he still received the blessing of God over His life. He was “walking the walk”, but still wasn’t without sin.

At times, I assume that a blessing, a promise from God’s Word, will happen in a certain time frame. When it doesn’t, I question everything. I question how I pray, how I’m studying the Word, my actions, my family’s actions, my church, etc., etc. etc. Trying to find some elusive “magic key” that must be the reason why God’s timeline doesn’t match mine.

Instead of trusting, praising, and enjoying the journey, I find myself adding a certain phrase I read in a book to my prayers, claiming a new verse, holding myself to a stricter standard to unlock this special blessing.

Are there times where I need to change something in my life? Remove a sin? Forgive a brother? Absolutely! Most of the time though… it’s a matter of trust.

It’s a matter of waiting.

It’s a matter of “not my will, but Yours be done.”

God still blessed Solomon, even with his imperfections, because it was time to bless Solomon.

God will bless me, even with my imperfections, when it is time to bless me.

Not because I am good enough, but because He is good. He never changes. His promises endure and He always keeps His promises.

What if the blessing I’m so focused on isn’t the end result, but the journey instead?

What if the blessing is the lesson that comes with the journey?

What if the blessing is the waiting?

What if there is no “magic key”?

What if my relationship with God looks completely different than that best-selling author?

What if the “magic key” is just about me pressing in as close as possible to my loving God as He douses me with His love?

What if it really is all about Him and not about me?

What if?

Instead of trying to find the “magic key” of blessing, I’m choosing to enjoy the journey. Walk in the statutes I know to be true? Yes. Love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength? Yes. Read every new book hoping to find the clue to God’s favor? No. Done with that.

Instead, I’m choosing to trust and leave whatever “magic key” there is in the hands of the God of the universe who knows just when to unlock the door of promise and when to keep me in the waiting room.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

No Longer an Ostrich

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Armor of God. You know, in Ephesians 6, where God reminds us this life is an all-out war, all of the time. I avoid dwelling on that too often and it leads to more issues than if I just admit the war and deal with it. I’m like an ostrich in the sand instead of a soldier ready for war.

Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Yep. There it is in black and white, but I often act like an ostrich with my butt up in the air and my head in the sand instead of putting on the armor God has provided.

Peace time is much easier and that’s where I want to believe I am.

In peace time, I don’t I don’t have to wear armor. In peace time, I don’t have to live prepared. In peace time, I don’t have to think about a war.

What I’m learning though is that living like an ostrich is suffocating. I’m not designed to breathe in sand. I’m not designed to live in denial. I’m designed to fly and breathe the air in deeply. I’m really designed to soar like an eagle, not hide like an ostrich.

Isaiah 40:29-31 says, “He [God] 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.”

So, how do I switch from living like an ostrich to flying like an eagle?

Eph. 6:10 says that it’s about being strong in the Lord and in the power of HIS might. It’s not about my strength. It’s about His.

When I have my head in the sand, I’m focusing on the darkness surrounding me, praying no one notices me, thinking the enemy won’t think I’m worth the trouble…not being able to breathe.

When I am depending on God’s strength, He renews my energy and makes me soar…armor and all. All denial gets me is sand in my face, but depending on God’s strength gets me the pure breath of the Spirit of God.

Job 32:8 says, “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.”

When I am breathing in the breath of God, I have understanding of the war I’m in, the subtle nuances that would otherwise go unnoticed of the battle around me.

When I have my head in the sand, I don’t understand anything because I can’t see clearly, or breathe deeply.

The breath of God equals understanding.

Head in the sand equals denial and, dare I say… stupidity.

The choice is mine (and yours) …

Head in the sand, or head up breathing in all God has for me today?

I’m ready to get my head up, breathe in the breath of God once again and receive the strength that not only gets me to the front lines, but wins the war.

http://www.seekinghearts.org

 

 

 

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How to Spot a Fake

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Last week, our oldest celebrated his 22nd birthday. He decided that instead of cake, he wanted fruit. He’s always wanted strawberries, but this was new. The morning of the big day I set the fruit on a large, white platter, but it just wasn’t nearly celebratory enough. So, I went back downstairs to gather my crystal. I set fruit in several crystal bowls, stuck a candle in a massive strawberry, and this momma was finally satisfied that the display was birthday worthy.

After the festivities, my husband and I were washing up all the pretty little dishes. We hit one of them with a fork, and ‘DING’, that perfect sound rang all over the kitchen. Mark said, “That’s a good piece of crystal.” I looked at it and said, “Really? I thought this one was.” We took the other piece and hit it (gently) and it kind of sounded like a ‘Dung’ more than a pretty little ‘Ding’.

It was so interesting. The good quality crystal didn’t look as fancy as the poor quality. It was just sitting there, unassuming, knowing what it had going for it. It didn’t have as fancy as a pattern. It didn’t have the decorative features of the other piece. It just sat there, knowing that what it was made of was right for the occasion.

The not so quality piece of crystal was ornate, decorative, and very showy. It screamed, “I’m here.” When it made a sound though, the truth came out. I realized that all the ornamentation was to distract me from knowing the truth.

These pieces of crystal reminded me that I need to make sure the sounds that I make are in keeping with who I am in Christ. They also reminded me that even when I’m impressed with how someone looks, or sings, or even preaches, the sound they make when they get “hit” proves what’s on the inside. Is it praise, or complaint? Is it a temper, or grace? Is it Christ, or self?

So, what sound should come out?

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no filthy talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building up as the need may be. This way you will give grace to those who hear you.”

I confess, I often get caught up in the first part of this verse. I say to myself, “Well, I didn’t actually cuss, so I’m good.” I lose the next part, the part where I am ONLY to say things that build people up.

Sound impossible? If I am just using my best effort to look like a great quality Christian instead of actually being one, it is. Just like the crystal at Wes’ birthday. The sound I make tells on me every time. Just because I’m not cursing doesn’t mean I’m building people up. In fact, if all I’m doing is biting my tongue, the sound I am supposed to make (building people up) never happens.

Watchman Nee, in his book Sit, Walk, Stand – The Process of Christian Maturitysays this: “Too many are caught acting as Christians. The life of too many Christians today is largely a pretense. They live a “spiritual” life, talk a “spiritual” language, adopt “spiritual” attitudes, but they are doing the whole thing themselves. It is the effort involved that should reveal to them that something is wrong. They force themselves from doing this, from saying that – and how hard they find it all! It is just the same as when we Chinese try to talk a language that is not our own. No matter how hard we try, it does not come spontaneously; we have to force ourselves to talk that way. But when it comes to speaking our own language, nothing could be easier. Even when we forget all about what we are doing, we still speak it. It flows. It comes to us perfectly naturally, and its very spontaneity reveals to everyone what we are.”

When I depend on Christ, through the Holy Spirit He has already placed inside of me, the sound I make is Him, not me. Instead of a pretender, He makes me the real thing. Instead of just appearing to be Christ-like, He makes me like Him through and through. Still sound impossible? It would be without assurances like these:

Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to the one who can do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine according to the power that is working among us.”

Philippians 2:13 – “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” He gives us the “want to” and the power to actually accomplish it.

Let’s stop pretending and let Him do His perfect work in us. Let’s rest in the fact that when we are resting in Him, He cleans us up, cleans us out, and replaces us with Him. Then, when a hit comes our way, the sound we make is something that would bring Him glory and will come as naturally as speaking our native langauge. Only God can do that in me, and in you. Let’s allow Him do it.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

 

 

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