The crossForgiving those who have offended you

There is much to be said on the subject of forgiveness but I would like to take a moment and share with you something that I believe the Lord has taught me recently.

I have been reading about the life of King David, he was the second king of Israel and God called him a man after his own heart. This has always intrigued me because what does it mean to have a heart that sought the same things that God does? How does that translate to us today in our daily lives?

I feel I need to give you a bit of back history on King David, he was a Shepard boy when God had Samuel the priest anoint him as king over Israel. It was not until many years later that he finally stepped into the full role as King of Israel.

When he was anointed King over Israel, there was another king that was ruling at the time and his name was Saul. He had sinned and displeased God, but God had not taken him off of the throne immediately, as there were things that needed to play out before King Saul eventually died and no longer ruled.

One of the important things that happened in this time of David being anointed as the new king and Saul still being king was that God was training David’s heart, refining his character and establishing him as a man who would truly have a heart that was soft and surrendered to God.

How you may wonder was God doing this, well King Saul hated David and became very jealous of him, because he knew that God no longer supported his reign as the king of Israel. This jealousy in Saul translated to him hunting down David in order to kill him. David did not understand what was going on, or even why he had gone from a boy playing the harp in King Saul’s house to becoming a hunted man.

Sometimes we can feel like someone who is hunted by someone who offends us, either deliberately or unintentionally. We can feel bewildered that they would even treat us in such a manner and their betrayal and the offense that can linger is often toxic to us, unless we know how to deal with it.

In that time David wrote many of the Psalms that we have the privilege of reading today. In them he pours out his heart to God, his confusion, anger, angst, and sometimes even hopelessness at being a hunted man. He no longer had a stable home, regular food, predictability, and security. Instead he now had 600 men who were the low life’s, guns for hire, disenfranchised who were his companions on the run from King Saul.

In this time David had the chance to kill King Saul twice but he refused to lay a hand on God’s anointed King, even though he was also anointed to be king and Saul no longer had the blessing of the Lord upon him.

He knew that it was not acceptable to harm him in any way, and it showed up again when King Saul died and the man who had seen him die and come to tell David the news, he bragged about the kings death and David wept and mourned for him and had the man killed who had brought him the news.

Now in our flesh, our natural man, we might be thinking, hey hold on a moment, this guy was hunting him down, trying to kill him at every turn, King Saul even gave David’s wife away to another man to spite him. We would think that David had every right to be angry, upset, offended, and even hold a grudge against Saul for all that he did to him while he was alive.

What happened though was actually the opposite; God had placed His Holy Spirit within David, which enabled him to act in a way that would be contrary to what our natural instincts would want to do.

I would like you to read the following passage of scripture that gives us some insight into what true forgiveness looks like in the life a believer that has been filled with the Spirit of the Holy God.

2 Samuel 9:1-13

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” “At your service,” he replied.  The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

Where is he?” the king asked. Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.” So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.  When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family.  You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.  Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

As you can see by the above passage of scripture, David did not go and retaliate against Saul and his family once he had become king; instead he looked for a away to show love and kindness to Saul’s family.

Jonathan had been Saul’s son and he and David were like brothers, therefore he looked for someone in their family to extend that kindness to, and when he found out that Jonathan’s son was still alive, not only did he give him all of Saul’s land back, but insisted that he live in Jerusalem and eat at his table daily.

imagesCA2W4EGRThis is a sign of true forgiveness, not allowing the offense against him to rule him, King David, extended love, mercy, generosity and kindness to the family of Saul. Jonathan’s son had no way to pay back the kindness that was extended to him, he could not even walk and that is the beauty of forgiveness, that the mercy extended is way bigger than what could ever be paid back.

Now I don’t know about you, but as I read this I thought to myself of my own paltry attempts at extending what I thought was forgiveness to another person, and I had to admit that it fell far short of King David’s example to us, and even the example that God gives us through Jesus Christ.

I have at times, rehearsed over and over again the offense as it had played out against me, I would even think of ways that I could have said or done something to put in a little jab into the other person. The reality however is that God is a God of forgiveness and love and tells us that if we will not forgive others he will not forgive us.

God offers us forgiveness for our sins and attaches no strings to it, yes he does desire that we learn to walk in relationship with him and we obey what he has set out for us, but we do that because we are thankful and grateful for the love and forgiveness that he has extended to us.

Remember this, God never carries the offense of our sin in his heart, but instead extends love, mercy, forgiveness, love, His own Spirit and His love to us. Just like David did in the above passage of scripture.

I don’t know about you, but I realized that I needed to go back to God and ask him to forgive me for my poor attempts at forgiveness and ask him to help me to truly lovingly, extend forgiveness and mercy to the people around me that offend me.

imagesCA4AX86QI know that I will not always get it right, but now that I am aware of this great example, I can pray and ask the Lord for his strength to do the same when the need arises.

 

Praying for others

Ah the lessons that we learn, I have been praying for years for my family and to be honest, my most frequent request of the lord for them is not that he would bless them, give them lots of money, keep them safe or even that they would do well in all that they put their hands too.

No, I have cried out to God that they would come to know him in a deep and personal way, that their hearts would be whole heartedly devoted to him, and that his perfect will be done in their lives.

It might seem strange to hear that that is my deepest hope, wish and desire for them, but truthfully, I have personally learnt that if you do not know God in a deep and personal way, it is hard to walk in a way that would please him and it is easy to find yourself in a pit of sin and destruction.

Now, it is not to say that I do not want the very best for them, I absolutely do, and I do throw those prayers in there for them, but I know that a heart that beats for God is a heart that is at peace, filled with joy, knows contentment and is filled with wisdom.

I know that when their hearts are set on the course that God has for them, they will be blessed in all that they do, that they will choose righteousness over evil and wisdom over foolishness.

I know that they will be kind and compassionate to those around them and show the love of God to the world. I know that they will make a difference in people’s lives as well as in the world around them.

I know that if their hearts are set ablaze for the things of God, that even when the road gets rough, which it so often will, they will be equipped to handle it. They will know how to pray and ask for the lord’s help, instead of stubbornly and pride fully trying to do it all on their own.

They will learn from their mistakes and use it as character development instead of just ignoring the lessons and letting themselves get into a compromising position again.

I know that if their hearts are devoted to God, that they will be generous with their time and their money, and that when they see needs they will quietly fill them, not needing the whole world to know what a good deed they have done.

I know that when their hearts are set ablaze, they will stand up for righteousness, defend the week and even if they are attacked for their stand, they will do it willingly due to their devotion to God.

I know that when their hearts are lost in God, they will not be tempted to have other gods that will draw them away. Things that would occupy their time and that would make their hearts grow cold towards God.

Therefore, I feel, that even though the answers to my prayers for my loved ones might not look like I think that they should, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that there is no place on earth, where they will be happier, safer and more secure, than in the loving arms of their Savior Jesus Christ.

The lord promises that he will strengthen those people whose hearts are devoted to him, Yes that is what I want for my loved ones, I want them strengthened in the lord, made wise through walking in the fear of the lord and have lives that spill out the goodness of the lord to all whom they encounter. Yes, this is what I want for my family.

2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

What a grand promise that the lord gave to us, that he will strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him, Thank you lord.

So, if you might have been afraid to commit your own heart to the lord fully, I want to encourage you today, that you will never regret it if you did. He is faithful with his promises, he is able to keep you and even if the situations in your life, look like they are out of control, or too overwhelming, when we commit ourselves to him, he promises to fight for us, to deliver us, and to give us the wisdom that we need to navigate through difficult situations.

If you would like to make a commitment to the lord today and desire to have a heart that is whole heartedly committed to him, it is simple.

All you need to do, is ask him.

Yes it is that simple. Ask him for not only a heart that is undivided, but the ability to have a fresh passion for him rise up within you.

Psalm 86:11

 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

My prayer for you today, is this

Father, you are the king of kings and lord of Lords, the creator of all that we see with our eyes, and the things unseen. You created each one of us, with a God sized hole in our hearts so that we would turn to you and desire to know and walk with you. Lord God, I pray for my brothers and sisters today, that you would fill them with a renewed passion for you, that you will give them the desire to have a heart that is undivided, that choses you over things that would cause them to sin. Father I ask that they would learn to walk in a new way with you today, that you will fill their hearts with your spirit, and that from this day forward, they will come to know you in a deeper, whole hearted way.

I pray this in the precious name of Jesus

Amen.

Praying God’s will for your life!

How do we know what the perfect will of God is for our lives? I have heard many well intentioned people say things about finding and praying for the will of God in my life, but what does it mean exactly and how do we do it?

 I would like to take a few moments and share a couple of the truths that I believe God has taught me over the years, concerning praying for his will to be done in my life.

If you have been a Christian for a while, you might have had people say, we want to live our lives according to the will of God.

 My question has always been what is the will of God for my life? If I am supposed to live my life according to it, then how do I discover what it is?

This is where prayer has become an essential part of the journey to discovering what God’s true will is for my life, and not only that, but praying specifically for it to happen.

I believe that the lord had revealed to me this one fundamental truth;

 IF I want to know what the will of God is, then all I need to do is to look in the bible, as they are the very words of God, to the world.

That sounds easy enough, but there are long genealogies, stories of war, famine, drought and the like. There are also stories of beatings, depravations and shipwrecks. How on earth can I a mere lay person discover God’s specific will for my life in the midst of all of that.

This is where I believe that the lord stepped up my training. As I would read the bible I discovered that some passages would specifically give a command that said, do this or that as it is in accordance with the will of God. That seemed easy enough.

Matthew 6:9-15

 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.   But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

In the passage above, Jesus taught his disciples how they should pray to God the Father, according to his will, we learn that we are to reverence God (hallowed be your name), we can ask for his kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We can ask him to give us our daily bread ( what we need to live on, eat, clothing, shelter etc) We can also confidently ask him to forgive us the sins that we have committed that has hindered our relationship with him, as well as for us to forgive those who through their sinful behavior have hurt/offended us. Then we can pray that we not succumb to the temptations that the devil would throw at us during our day, but instead be able to resist them in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can also ask God to deliver us from the evil one, that we will not be trapped by his schemes and devices and led into sin.

 Through these verses we also discover the importance that God puts on us forgiving other people, as he says that if we forgive men, he will forgive us to. It sometimes feels better (for a moment) to hold a grudge or feel justified in your anger against someone, but the truth is, that Forgiveness is God’s will for us, and it will set us free.

As you can see, we have discovered in this short prayer many things about God and his will for our lives, and so it is with confidence that we can pray these things daily.

My question was though, are there more passages of scripture that would help me to discover a greater depth to God’s will for my life?

 The answer came through the revelation of the Holy Spirit as a big fat Yes!  I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me how to figure out more of God’s will for my life and he showed me that the more that I read scripture, the more I would discover things that were principles of good godly living. Sometimes these principles were hidden among the accounts of people who had gone before us, and what they learnt along the way. Sometimes the truth was out in plain sight.

I did discover however that without the Holy Spirit leading the charge in my education, it was just words on a page to me, instead of the living principles that I knew that they were.

Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to teach us how to live lives that are pleasing to the will of God. Therefore we can confidently pray, knowing that it is God’s will, for the Holy Spirit to teach us the things from heaven that would help us to live our lives here on earth.

John 14:26

 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

As you can see from the above verse Jesus told the disciples that he would send a counselor to us, and he is the spirit of truth, it is his job to lead us into the truth of God.

There is also another very important concept that I would like to bring your attention to as well, and that is, that Jesus said that when we have faith in him, we will be able to ask for anything in his name and he will do it; now I am sure that he was not talking about us asking for things that would be for selfish reasons, like a million dollars, a Lamborghini and so forth, No, I believe that he is wanting us to ask for things, that will aide in our Christian character and that would benefit others around as well.

 John 14:12 – 17

 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.   And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. “

Therefore, we can conclude that not only does God want us to ask him for things, but he wants us to have faith in him, walk in obedience to him, and ask him for anything in his name and he will do it.  These are facts from the bible that we can literally put in our “bank account” of God’s will for our lives.

In the book of Proverbs there are many revelations of God’s will,  for instance, in the beginning of the book it tells us to ask and seek for wisdom.

Therefore, when I pray, I can confidently ask for wisdom as well as be assured that what I am asking for is God’s will for my life.

I can also ask that this godly wisdom would help me to discern between good and evil, righteousness and wickedness. I can ask the Lord to help me to live a disciplined and prudent life that will lead me to doing things that are just and fair. Proverbs 1:1-3

All I have done is read the first 3 verses of the book of proverbs and discovered that God wants me to desire wisdom, he wants me to learn the difference between wickedness and righteousness and he wants me to be disciplined enough to pursue that.

Then as I read further through the book of proverbs there are many other things that I can pray for, like “lord, help me to learn not to be lazy, but be diligent as you promise in your word that if I am diligent and work hard I will be rewarded with wealth”  Proverbs 10:4

Or,

 “Lord, please help me to be wise in heart and accept your commands, let me not become like a foolish man, who just talks all of the time, but never takes the time to listen to instructions, help me oh lord to be a person of integrity all the days of my life so that my walk with you would be secure, because your word says that he who takes a crooked path will be found out. Lord I see so many examples of that around me in the news daily, help me oh lord I pray”  Proverbs 10:8-9

As you can see that when we take the time to search out the word of God and then pray it back to God, we will soon learn not only what His will is for our lives, but we will also pray that it would become a reality and part of our lives. Therefore, I confidently know that what I have asked the lord for He will give me, as it is a part of His will for my life, or else He would not have put it in the bible!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I want to encourage you to take a deeper look at the word of God, and see how you can turn it back into prayer, not only for your own life but also for those around you, your loved ones and your neighbors. God delights in answering us, and when we desire to have the things that he has already prepared for us, like, wisdom, diligence, righteousness then it becomes even easier for him to answer with a YES to our requests.

If you have never prayed in this way before and you find it a bit intimidating, I suggest that you start small, like in Proverbs chapter 1. Read it through, and ask the lord to show you have to pray it back to him, asking him for the wisdom, insight and fear of the lord that would strengthen you in Him.

I know that when you start to pray in this way, the excitement of discovering God’s will for your life will become overwhelming at times, be sure to write in a journal the different insights that the Lord gives you along the way as well. I know that you will be blessed.

Please remember that God’s will and wisdom is not limited to the book of Proverbs so be sure to keep reading through the entire bible, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal his truth to you along the way as you pray and seek the will of God for your life.

My prayer for you, is that you will discover the depths of wisdom, truth and God’s will for your life as you spend time daily with him in his word. I pray that you will not just read the word, but that you will learn to apply it to your life and that you will become more and more Christ like daily. In Jesus name I pray,

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trap of Pride

I believe that the lord is trying to teach me once again about the subject of choosing to walk humbly with him, choosing to serve rather than be served. Not thinking of myself to highly but with sober judgment, realizing that I too can and do make the mistakes that I see others around me make all of the time.

I have recently been reading in the book of Galatians and this truth was made evident to me once again.

Galatians 5:26

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. 

Galatians 6:3 – 5

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,  for each one should carry his own load.

The lord it seems when he is trying to get a point a cross to me, will often show me a glaring example.

It all started out innocently enough, a man telling a story about work mates, and the struggles that they were having in fixing things, but then the conversation turned from the struggles to how stupid they were for not being able to fix the problem. Now, in essence I suppose that there is nothing wrong with expressing feelings of frustrations at another’s in ability to perform a task, but it turned into a prideful attitude as soon as it came out that the man managed to fix his workmates problems, without having had any training in that area before.

The whole conversation went something like this, I am better, because they had spent hours trying to figure something out, and I fixed it in 5 minutes.

As I listened to this conversation I realized that the lord had been teaching me about conceit, just a few minutes earlier in his word, (conceited – having an excessively favorable opinion of one’s abilities) and it struck me that here was a live example in front of my eyes.

Now the temptation was to think, ha, see this man was thinking of himself more highly than he should, as I do not believe that he realized that the wisdom that he had to fix the problem had come from God and not his own abilities.

Then the lord reminded me, not to fall into the trap myself, thinking of myself better than him, because I knew better, than to sit there and bad mouth someone, because of their inability to do something, all in an attempt to make me feel better about myself.

The truth is, the lord has been trying to teach me where my strength and abilities come from, they come from him.  When I am willing to walk humbly with him and ask him for the wisdom and direction that I need for my life, I can trust him to show me how to do things, what to say and how to truly show his love and grace to all those around me.

I then have the privilege of giving God the Glory for what he is doing in and through me instead of me taking it all and not giving Him thanks for what he enabled me to do through his spirit.

I will pray for that man, that he too would come to realize that all of his abilities come from the lord, as well as that he will learn to walk humbly with the lord.

My friend, pride is deadly and it so easily convinces us to elevate ourselves way out of proportion. It is not that God wants to place us in a position of groveling before him, but when pride is allowed to take up residence in our lives it quickly clouds our vision.

We know longer can see where we are wrong, as others now are in the wrong, and we come to the faulty conclusion that we can truly do all things well on our own. God wants us to understand that all of our strength, abilities, power and wisdom do indeed come from him alone. He is the one that empowers us through his Holy Spirit to do all things well.

Pride and conceit will try to trap us, so my friend if you find yourself in the position of the man in this story, there is a simple solution to the problem, Repent.

God promises us, that when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us, 1 John 1:9 so ask him today to forgive you of any pride that might be trying to take over and ask him to for the grace to learn to walk humbly with him today. Even if you find yourself repenting multiple times in the day, it is worth it, as you give yourself over to him, to train you in righteousness.

Here are a few scriptures that reinforce the idea of how God opposes those that are proud.

Proverbs 8:13

 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Proverbs 11:2

 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Proverbs 13:10

 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Proverbs 16:18

 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 22:4

Humility and the fear of the lord bring wealth and honor and life.

My prayer for you today, is that the lord will lead you into his righteousness, so that you will learn to walk moment by moment in humility with him. Amen.

 

You are Blessed!

In the Old Testament the father would gather his children around him before he died and give them a blessing, specifically the sons. The eldest son got the majority of the blessing. The younger sons were often placed in a subservient position to the eldest. That was the culture and I am pretty sure in the eastern culture it is still done the same way.

The father when blessing the son would prophetically speak a blessing over the boy/man about his future, about his offspring’s and wealth. The son I am sure looked forward to this as he would then inherit the estate.

 I also had experienced this when my own parents passed away a few years ago. There was a will, the estate divided and blessings given.

 The greatest blessing that I received from my parents though was the one that said, “We are proud of you and your willingness to walk in obedience to the will of God for your life”. I think that that was by far the nearest and dearest blessing that they could have given me, apart from introducing me to him in the first place.

This got me thinking about the blessings that God gives us, his children and does it have the same effect as that given by a parent to a child.

I would have to say yes and so much more! The blessings that God gives us, his children are eternal, meaning that they will never be taken away and given to another. They belong to us.

So what are those blessings you might wander? Let’s have a look,

Ephesians 1:3

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 

We have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. I do not think that I have enough time over my lifetime to be able to describe all of the blessings that God has given to us his children. They are binding and will follow us into Eternity.

The blessings and inheritances that are received here on earth fade or dim in time, but God’s blessings to us never will.

The bible teaches us what some of these blessings are,

  • We were chosen before the creation of the world to be Holy and Blameless in the sight of God.
  • Because of his great love for us, we have been adopted to be his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. This all according to God’s pleasure and will.
  • We have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ (bought back from death)
  • We have been given the forgiveness of sins according to the grace of God.
  • He has made known to us, the mystery of his will, which is Jesus coming to earth, preaching about salvation, dying on a cross, and then raising to life again and in doing that he destroyed death’s hold on the people. God’s will is that no one would die, but that all would come to know him as their savior.
  • We have been chosen by God, and predestined by him according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
  • We are for the praise of his Glory.
  • We have been included with Christ
  • We have been marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit lives and empower us to live godly lives in righteousness on this earth.
  • He is a deposit that guarantees our inheritance until all have been redeemed in Christ Jesus.
  • We have been given everything that we need to live a godly life here on this earth. We do not lack anything.
  • This was taken from Ephesians 1: 4-16

 I don’t know about you, but know these facts about the blessings that I have received from God, gives me confidence to know that in Christ I truly can do all things that he has set before me to do. My sins have been forgiven, I am rich because I have all of heaven’s spiritual blessings at my disposal and therefore I have nothing to fear.

I can with confidence love deeply, forgive freely, hope and dream big dreams. I can have faith to see people healed and set free from all that holds them in bondage, I can tackle things that appear hard because I know that God’s holy spirit is within me and will enable and empower me to do all of the things I need to do. In Christ I can with confidence bring forth his message of blessings to others as well.

I think the greatest thing that I can do though as a Christian who has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus, is to live Like I believe it. So often we don’t, we live like paupers who have nothing to give to the world around us. That is so far from the truth.

We are children of the king, anointed and blessed by him, and that blessing then enables us to go out and change the world.

The following verse is my prayer for you today.

 Ephesians  1:17 – 23

 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.   I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.   And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,   which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. 

I pray that from this day forward you will start to live your life in such a way that reflects the belief that you indeed have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms given to you.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

 I came across this great prayer the other day while I was going through some of my mother’s papers. She loved to collect poems, prayers, funny sayings and inspirational stories.

 I thought that I would share this particular one with you as it has been my constant prayer for many years.

I have found over the years that one of the most satisfying ways to pray is to pray the word of God, and this is a prayer that does just that.

 This prayer is based on Ephesians 6, I know that as you pray these words that this passage of Scripture will become more alive for you, as it has for me.

  I pray that it will be something that you incorporate into your life daily, Putting on the full Armor of God, so that you will be able to stand against the tricks of the enemy.  

Here is the prayer:

Lord Jesus, by the Spirits anointing, make me strong with Your Mighty Power, Spirit of God, help me put on all of God’s amour that I will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil.

 Holy Spirit, help me understand that I am not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against the wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

 Empower me to use every piece of God’s amour to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle I will still be standing firm.

Help me to stand my ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.

 Spirit of God put on me the shoes of peace that come from the good news, so that I will be fully prepared.

 In every battle strengthen my faith as my shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at me by Satan. Anoint me Holy Spirit, the with the helmet of salvation, put in my hand Your sword, Holy Spirit, which is the word of God.

 Spirit of God, pray through me at all times and on every occasion in Your Mighty Power.
Equip me to stay alert and be persistent in my prayers for all Christians everywhere.

 In Jesus precious name I pray all of this,

Amen.

 Ephesians 6:10-18 – NIV

 The Armor of God
  10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 
11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 
12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 
13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 
14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 
15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 
16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 
17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 

I pray that God will bless each of you as you read his word and I pray that you will put it in your heart and grow to become more and more like him everyday.

Blessings to you

March 31, 2011

How Can God Bring Good from This?
Lysa TerKeurst

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 
Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Devotion:
Have you ever faced a personal struggle and wondered how God could possibly bring good out of it? How could Romans 8:28 apply to my hidden issues — the ones I don’t like to think about, deal with, or even admit I have?

If you would have told me 10 years ago that God could bring good out of my weight issues and food struggles, I would have seriously doubted you. I would have rolled my eyes and excused myself to the bathroom.

Bathroom stalls are great places to cry in secret.

When a soul is rubbed raw from years of trying and failing, you don’t want to hear, “eventually good will come from this.”

I wanted something to instantly fix my issues.

I wanted to stop calling myself awful names I’d never let another person call me.

I wanted to be naturally thin like my sister.

I wanted to stop crying when I walked into my closet to get dressed in the morning.

I would have cared less about some elusive, eventual good. My jeans didn’t fit. Even my sweatpants didn’t fit. I felt horrible. I couldn’t stay committed to a healthy eating plan to save my life. And I saw no hope in sight.

It’s a terrible thing to scan the horizon and see no evidence of hope.

Maybe you’ve been there with some hidden issue. Maybe you’ve been there like me with food and weight struggles. Maybe you’re there today.

Whether your issues are the same as mine or not, all of us Jesus girls have struggles. We all fall short in some way. And we all need to know more about this “good” mentioned in Romans 8:28.

But instead of a three point sermonette, I want to share with you a letter I recently received. As I read it, the mercy gates of heaven split wide open and reigned down “this working of good.” It was heaven’s salve soothing deep places in me.

It is a picture of the reality of God’s Word being true. Always true. God does work for the good… in all things… every single thing… even our most raw and seemingly impossible things… but we must know it even when we don’t feel it.

“Just want to say thank you for sharing your struggles, Lysa. I’ve had an eating disorder since August,1978. Full blown anorexia, which led years down the road to bulimia.

I became a Christian in 2002, but never could fully surrender my eating disorder to our Lord. Through your story and the advice you shared the Holy Spirit is empowering me as I never knew possible.  I’ve had 7 days of no binging or purging!!!

This may not seem like a high number to you, but after 33 full years with this binge/purge addiction, this is AMAZING. Hallelujah!!

You shed such new light on scriptures that I have read, but never knew how to interpret in my life especially with regards to eating. I’ll be honest I figured my eating disorder wasn’t that big a deal to our Lord. In fact I had told myself that He made me this way so it must just be the sin I was born to deal with; so glad to know that it isn’t, and that I matter to HIM.” — Melissa P.

As I read this, my tears leaked free. We don’t have to figure out how God will bring good, we just have to stay on the journey with Him and watch Him work.

May this be a glimpse of hope in the midst of your struggles as well.

And we know (we know it even if we don’t feel it) that in all things (even the ones we can’t even fathom being used for good) God works for the good. (He works for the good. Our job is to walk with Him day by day. His job is to work the good.)

Dear Lord, thank You for this hope. Thank You that You don’t waste our tears, our struggles, or those places rubbed raw from years of trying and failing. Once we do what You’ve instructed us to do, You always do what only You can do. I know You will bring good even when I can’t see it or feel it. And what a comfort that is to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa’s new book Made to Crave is just what you’ve needed. This is the message Melissa read that prompted the letter in this devotion. Click here to order your copy.

This book can also be a group Bible study by using these life-changing resources: Made to Crave Participant’s Guide and Made to Crave DVD teaching series, also by Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa will be speaking in over 40 cities this year and would love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

Application Steps:
Write out your struggle on the front of a 3×5 card this week and pray for the next 5 days for God to reveal some good that could come from this. Write some of the power verses on the back of your card and meditate on these truths.

Reflections:
God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable. God comforts us to make us comfort-able. Able to comfort others with the same comfort we’ve received from Him. Is there someone in my sphere of influence who could benefit from hearing my story? Could this be some of the good God can bring from this?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)  

2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT)

I want what you can give me!

Dear brothers and Sisters in Christ

Not so long ago the lord I believe gave me a great visual representation of our relationship with him. I say our, because in reality some days we might be like my illustration and then other days we might not be.

Suppose two close friends (Annette and Jody) go out for coffee. Annette loves to hang out with Jody as she often comes up with some very funny stuff. The two have been friends for many years, but it has been a hit and miss relationship. Annette feels that she gives her all to the relationship, but she is never quite sure about Jody’s commitment to their relationship.

While at Starbucks Annette decides to show her love for her friend by buying her coffee and a muffin. When Jody gets to the coffee shop she thanks Annette for the coffee and muffin, and sits down to enjoy it.  Throughout the conversation Jody seems distant and distracted. She answers numerous phone calls, texts various people, and as soon as she has finished drinking her coffee, she tells Annette that she is sorry, but she has to go.

Annette feels let down and disappointed. As she reviews the conversation or lack of it she realized that her friend doesn’t really want to be friends with her, but she does want whatever her friend has to give her.  (in this instance it was the muffin and coffee)

The moral of the story is this:

Our relationship with God can look a lot like the one described above. Often we want all that God can give us, what he has done for us, what he has promised us, but we are not willing to enter any deeper with him. We don’t want the relationship.

We think of him as the magic genie in a bottle, and when we cry out and need him he has to magically appear. We make all kinds of promises and vows when we find ourselves in a tight situation hoping that God will just rescue us and then when we have to face the consequences of our bad choices we blame God because he didn’t “come through” for us.

The truth of the matter is that more often than not, we are off running our own lives, and occasionally invite God in for a quick visit.

But God wants more than that, he wants to be in a relationship with us; He wants us to know that he is our loving heavenly father, and that he will care of us, both in the good and bad times. He wants to lead us with his spirit to obey his will and walk in the power of his Holy Spirit.

God wants us to know the sweetness of the peace that he offers us and the freedom that is only found in him. Freedom from the death we were once steeped in due to our sin.

Brothers and Sisters please realize something, God is a Holy God and he has called us, as his children to be a holy priesthood, separated from living like the world around us. The only way that we will ever hope to achieve living like this, and making it a reality in our lives is to actively seek him out.

 Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Jesus had been telling the people at this time that they were not to worry about what they would eat, drink or wear, or any other mundane thing in this life, because when they made him to be their priority in their lives, he would take care of all of the rest.

I believe that this principle is true in all facets of our lives, God promises that when we search him out, walk in obedience to his word and live our lives in reverent fear of him he will take care of all the other things in our lives.

We can then know with confidence that whenever we come to him, he not only hears our prayers but will answer them as well.

So how do we cultivate that relationship with him?

Here are a few steps to get you started on your journey to a deeper relationship with God.

  • Taking time
  • We have to make a point of setting aside a time every day and going to him in prayer, telling him our hurts, troubles, triumphs and concerns.
  • Listening
  • We have to be willing to take time out to listen to what he wants to say to us, how he wants us to handle all of those various situations in our lives.
  •  Often it will be through his word that he will speak to us, it will be like the passage of scripture that we are reading, literally jumps off the page at us. It will be exactly what we will have needed to hear.
  • How does he speak to us?
  •  Sometimes he will speak to us through a thought we might have or something that we have read that he will bring to mind. He might even speak to us through something someone will say to us later on in our day.
  •  The point is, that he will speak to you and you need to train your heart to hear him.
  • Be grounded in the truth of his word
  •  We also need to stay grounded in the word, his word the bible. It is our guidance and source of life and finding out how we are to live and what pleases him.
  • Obedience is Key
  •  In order to be in a deep and loving relationship with God, he requires that we are obedient to him. In other words, we take what he wrote in the bible, believe it, and then live it out in our daily lives. This will then bring him glory as others will see that there is something different about us.

Chose today not to be like Jody in my illustration, choose instead to cultivate that loving relationship with God through the Holy Spirit today. I highly recommend that you take some time and read through the book of Psalms. King David who was inspired by God to write these Psalms beautifully illustrates the relationship between God and man. I know that you will be blessed as you read it and discover that God’s love for you is so much more than you ever imagined.

This is my prayer for you:

Colossians 1: 9 – 14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Amen

Displaying God’s great splendor!

 Dear Sisters and Brother in the Lord

 Isaiah 61:1-3

1The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,     
  2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,     
3and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty      instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise      instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

 If ever I was to pick a favorite bible verse, I would have to say that these 3 verses are it. For many reasons, but I think that the biggest reason is that it is the promises that through Christ, I will be restored, that I will have a crown of beauty instead of the ashes that was so typical of my life.

 In Christ I would be given the oil of gladness instead of mourning, as I forever mourned my poor choices. I would wear a garment of praise instead of the despair that threatened to over take my life on a constant basis. Then my favorite part of the verse, that I will be strong in the lord, (an oak of righteousness, I will be planted by the lord and that I will be for the display of his splendor.) I cannot think of anything that could make me happier than to reflect Jesus and what he has done for me in my every day life.

 For many years these things were not true in my life, but as God has brought healing and restoration into my war torn mind, body and spirit I can say with great pleasure that I truly can display Him in every way.

 This brings me to something that I would like to share with you, it happened a few weeks ago as I was walking through our local mall. I was killing time, waiting for my husband and not really paying much attention to my surroundings. I was going from store to store, admiring the clothing.

 When I walked into The Bay, a large department store, I heard the Lord say to me, that I needed to start to dress like I believed that I was beautiful. Now I have always taken care in my appearance, but not overly. (Jeans are my friends)

 Then I heard the lord whisper into my spirit, “My daughters need to reflect My beauty, as they are for the display of My splendor. They need to dress like they believe it.”

 The lord reminded me of a friend who a few weeks ago met me for coffee, when she arrived she had dressed up and looked like a million dollars. She looked amazing.

The lord reminded me that when she did that, she was displaying the beauty of who God made her to be.

He then reminded me of the woman who live in Europe and how they get dressed up each day and parade the streets in the evening. When they do that they are showing off their grandeur. In North America, we tend to be the opposite and don’t dress up or take pride in how we look, weather is a contributing factor, but we as God’s daughters can still look nice.

 I believe that God continued the conversation with me saying “My daughters need to dress like they believe that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords is indeed the Most High God, who lavishes his beauty on His daughters and that he is living within them.

 This is not an issue of pride, but as daughters of the king we need to take joy in reflecting who we are to a broken world. Showing off our true beauty; this beauty is a reflection from the inside, knowing that in Christ we are enough; believing it and then living it.

 This includes your hair, clothing, jewelry, and even adding some make up.

Our inner confidence in Christ needs to be reflected outwardly.

 There is a huge difference between the outward display of beauty because of insecurity, pride and vanity compared to the beauty that is displayed because of an inward security that goes all the way to the inmost part of who you are in Christ.”

 I believe that God is beginning to set the stage as we display him and show the world His lavish love and beauty.

 Dear sisters in Christ, you are more than enough in Him. You are inhabited by the King of Kings and His Spirit is all beauty and love. (Have a look around at all that he has created for us to enjoy)

 I challenge you to love Him enough, to love yourself and show the world the wonders of His Great Majesty.

 It is time to step up Daughters of the King and be clothed in His Garments.

 His garments of praise, righteousness, holiness, love, kindness, compassion, salvation are there for you, clothe yourselves today.

 Know that in Christ Jesus, you are enough, that God wants you to reflect him to the world around you. He wants your confidence to be in him and his abilities through you as you walk in humbled surrender to him today.

 I pray that you will reflect on these words, believing that if God says that you are enough, it is true, all you have to do is keep hiding yourself in him.

Trusting in God

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I want to start off my article today with two very important scriptures; these scriptures echo the importance of not relying on ourselves and our understanding of how things are to be and trusting in other people around us, but ultimately putting our trust in God.

As you read through this article today I pray that God will open up the eyes of your heart to know and see how he wants you to learn to truly trust in him.

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Proverbs 29: 25

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe

There are many things that God requires of us as his children, but there are a few principles that are the foundation posts of our faith in God.

1. Faith, that God is who He says He is

2. Faith, that Jesus is truly the Son of the Most High God

3. Obedience to the word that He has given us through the bible

4. Faith and complete trust in God’s word and His will for our lives.

If we are honest with ourselves we will have to acknowledge that trusting in our own opinion and in the opinion of the people around us is often a lot easier than trusting in God. We can reason and muddle through the different situations in our lives and come to a solution.

I believe in my life, that one of the biggest hindrances in completely trusting God is that I am impatient. I want and need the answers right away, I do not want to wait and take the time to seek the lord.

I have found that when I am running on my own steam like that, I am living at half of my potential at best, not in the fulfilling life that God really has for me.

So how do you learn to trust in the lord with your whole heart and not lean on your own understanding of how things are; well for me the journey of trust began with studying the word of God.

I needed to learn to know who I was placing my trust in. For example:

If you are faced with a perilous situation and are in need of help from someone, you are more likely to trust someone that you have had some history with, someone who has proven to you that they are trustworthy. You wouldn’t be as trusting of someone who is a perfect stranger.

The same is true of our relationship with God, we will trust him when we learn to know him and we learn to know him by seeking him out, by reading his word, by learning about all of his attributes and his love for us his children.

I decided that in order to know God in a deeper way I needed to find out what the bible had to say about him, I was amazed at how he was described, not in the least wimpy or weak, but more than able to take care of anything that I had need of. He created the world and everything in it, He parted the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army, and yes I think he is more than capable of taking care of me.

Here are a few of his wonderful attributes: I saw him portrayed as the strength of Israel, their protector, their provider, their shelter, their stronghold, their comforter, their dwelling place, their shepherd, their salvation. I could go on for a long time about all of the names and ways God portrays himself, but when you start to look at God through the eyes of who he is, you can see that he is 100% trustworthy.

Even though the tendency is for me to still fall back into the default mode and trust in myself and my own resources the truth of the matter is that God is all of those things for me as well as for you, He is our provider, our shield and strength, our hope and our salvation. He promises to never to leave us, to light our steps and to guide us and give us the wisdom that we need to do whatever it is that we put our hands to.

My dear friends, God is trustworthy and he will never lead you into something that is harmful to you and if you allow him to he will reveal himself to you in many different ways that will show you that he is to be trusted. He will allow you to experience him by the big and small miracles that he provides for you daily.

A “small miracle” that happened this last week at church for me was this, I woke up in the morning thinking about this particular song, I cannot tell you the title of it as I am not sure of it, but the gist of the song is “that I stand with my arms high and heart surrendered” . I was humming it to myself and thinking of how I would love to be able to sing that song at church. I left that thought there and never thought to much more about it.

Yes you guessed it, when I arrived at church, the first song that we sang was the song that I longed to sing, I wish you could have seen me, I had the biggest grin on my face as I knew that God had allowed me the privilege of experiencing him in a more intimate way. I felt like he had given me a gift. I was overjoyed when we sang it a second time at the end of the service as well.

The reason I even mention this story is to show you that we don’t just decide that today we are going to trust God, God in his great mercy draws us into that relationship with him, then he reveals more and more of himself to us, showing us that he really can be trusted and that He is who he says he is and then when he says to us, “You need to rely on me as I can and will lead you where you need to go” you will willingly put your hand in his and let him lead you minute by minute.

Friends, I want to encourage you that no matter where you are on your journey of trusting our loving heavenly father, you can be rest assured that God is and will continue to reveal himself to you in order for you to learn to trust and rely on him more. He teaches us with every new situation that we find ourselves in that He is fully capable of helping us in and through it.

So whatever your situation is right now, I encourage you to pray this little pray with me and continue your journey of trusting God in your life.

Dear heavenly father

I come before you today to ask that you would forgive my unbelief in your ability to take care of me. I pray that you will open up the eyes of my heart and my ears to hear and see you clearly in my life. Help me to experience your faithfulness to me in a whole new way. I thank you that you love me and that as I walk with you I will learn how to trust in you more and more.

In Jesus Name

Amen.