Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Action Word

(picture from kisworldfun.com)
Love is a verb.

Yes, sometimes the actions of love take place on a level where we find it hard to focus. Say, for example, a parent has grounded their child for misbehavior. The child may only see the frustrations of the removed privileges. The parent’s love for their child is hoping to see a correction to said misbehavior. Love is often misunderstood.

Love is also distorted and sometimes actions labeled as love, are really not love at all. If a man, in his drunken stupor, beats his wife senseless, then later, insists through his tears that he really loves her, he clearly doesn’t know how to love. Something has gotten in the way. Whether he was never taught, by example how to love, or perhaps evil entered his life along the way and buried his capacity to love or a myriad of other possibilities; he’s crippled. He may behave in a loving manner sometimes, but he has core issues to deal with.

To truly love, one must know Love. God IS love, so, to know God, is to know love.

But, we all go through things in life that challenge God’s love and our ability to love others. Our pasts are riddled with mysteries, some of which we’ll never solve. Some of those mysteries fade away as explanations make their way to the surface. Some of us fiercely search for answers, others try to brush away the events of our past and count them as unworthy of our time and attention.

Love is never crippled, but our ability to give and receive love can be not only crippled, but completely paralyzed.

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Fresh encounters with God, daily, can help the crippled parts within us to heal. That’s why spending time in God’s Word is so incredibly important. Through His Word, God can reveal Himself and His never-ending love to us anew every day. God can speak to us through anything, or anyone.

So often in life when I’ve faced difficult circumstances and despair crept in like a subtle fog, I’ve begged God for answers, yet allowed my distractions to keep me from spending quality time with God, reading and pondering His Word. The longer I go without reading and meditating on God’s Word, the more frustrated I become. The more I talk to God yet refuse to take time to listen for what He has to say to me, the deeper the talons of despair pierce my heart.

God didn’t create us all to think like rocket scientists. He created us with one-of-a-kind hearts, with minds that think as individuals. He doesn’t seek to make things difficult for us; He simply wants us to turn to Him, with all our heart, and He will open the doors to understanding for us.

That means spending time with Him, quality time.

But, we’re so b-u-s-y! There’s so much to get done in a day, when do you find time to spend with a God you can’t see or touch?

You don’t.

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You MAKE time. Priorities take us to land us where we are; good priorities take us to good places, scattered or unproductive priorities take us nowhere. We look around and things are still the same way we left them yesterday, sometimes – the same way we left them ten years ago. We wallow in the same pit of despair or poverty we told ourselves we wouldn’t settle for.

With no target, how can we hit it? With no goal, how can we move on from where we are?

Love is the always-moving vehicle that will get us there. But, we have to climb on board.

(picture from bluetimbersign.com)
Time to dump some baggage? Time to move forward? Time to learn (or relearn) how to give and receive love?

Spend some time with God, today. Quality time with God will always be rewarded; sometimes tangibly, sometimes in treasures of the heart, sometimes with exciting displays that everyone around you will see; and sometimes, the rewards will be accompanied with a little frustration or confusion, but pursue the rewards of God. His reward is love, the action kind of love, the kind of love that sets us free.

Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (KJV)

And in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (KJV)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails….” – I Corinthians 13:4-8a (KJV)

(picture from forheislove.com)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What's in YOUR Mouth?

(picture from thisisinsider.com)

The other day, our pastor made mention of something John Osteen used to say, “There’s a miracle in your mouth.” I’ve heard variations of this over the years, but yet every time I ponder it, I recognize all over again just what a powerful my mouth I have.

Sure, I make jokes about how much I talk, but, if I pay attention to what I’m saying, I realize I need to slow things down and guard my mouth; I get to be the one in control of what comes out of my mouth. Am I speaking truth? Even when, and perhaps, especially when - I’m the only one there to hear what I have to say, it’s important that I speak the truth, and that I speak it in love.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)

Yes, I want to grow into all that Jesus has for me. I want to bring glory to His Name, and I want to edify the body of Christ. But, I need to be a healthy member of the body of Christ in order to bring that edification to the table. If my thinking is tainted by some flaky wind of doctrine or lies from my past, I’m being deceived and I’m sharing that deception. I need to be renewing my mind with the Word of God all the time.

Sometimes we can be in conversation with someone and think thoughts like, “Does this person even have a clue what they’re talking about?” – or, “This guy’s short a few marbles.” Truth be told, others have had these same thoughts about us.

(picture from redeeminggod.com)

In scripture we read, “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But, we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV)  

(picture from thoughtco.com)
If we fail to engage our own brain in our conversations, how much less do we tap into the mind of Christ? God has told us we have access to His mind, yet so often we rely on self, or worse, we just allow whatever happens to happen without considering what we can do to impact the situation.

But, what about when I’m talking to myself? How am I impacting my life by speaking out things that are negative and destructive? I’m crippling God’s precious Princess. I’m creating handicap in my own life. I’m also acting in rebellion, denying the very power of God working in me.
(picture from treatingfungus.com)

In Romans 8:11 we read. “…if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (NIV)

How can I deny the truth if the very Spirit of God lives within me? I’ll tell you how. If I’m still living a carnally-minded life. If I’m not renewing my mind with God’s Word – I have nothing else to fall back on except the lies I’ve always believed. By the way, a carnal life doesn’t have to mean a sinful life, it simply means a life perceived by natural means; through our five senses. There are things more reliable than our sense of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Once we give our lives over to Jesus, He promises that His Spirit will live within us. We can tap into that, we can receive from His Spirit, and we can rely on Him, trusting Him completely. He’ll never leave us, no matter what. His love is unconditional, and His presence is as real as His love.

James 1:26 tells us, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” (NLT)

(picture from wikiHow.com)
I’m a talker and I admit it. Sometimes I allow my words to get ahead of me and I say things I shouldn’t, to myself and to those around me. But, to say I can’t control it, would be a lie. I might be lazy about guarding my mouth, I might be slack in renewing my mind with the Word of God, I might be uneducated about the power I possess, but that’s all on me. God gave me control, I get to make the decisions regarding my life and how I live it. He gave you the very same control; the very same choices.

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” – Deuteronomy 30:19-20a (NIV)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” – Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)

Are you speaking truth? Are you speaking life? If not, you can choose to change that, through the Word of God.
(picture from youchoose.org.au)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

My Favorite Comforter

(picture from wifeknows.com)
Do you ever catch yourself whining? Do you ever feel yourself panicking? I tend to find my mouth saying things that sound like complaints way more often that I’d like to admit.

Our Father in Heaven has given us the Holy Spirit to us to be, among other things, our Comforter. If you think in pictures, like many of us do, a plethora of imagery comes to mind at the sound of that word. Do you picture the cozy down comforter on your bed, the one that snuggles you as you wrap yourself in it? Do you picture a bereavement card? Do you picture the face of that one special friend who’s always there for you, not matter how much you pout, cry, mourn or throw a pity party? Do you remember the hands of your mother, as she gently smoothed a band-aid over that nasty scrape on your knee? Do you smell the glass of wine you nursed after getting disturbing or sad news?

(picture from friendsquotation.com)
I’m sure you have your own images that pop into place at the mention of most any word.

But, comforters can explore a thousand dimensions, depending on what kind of comfort we find ourselves in need of at any given moment. I can be in one dimension right now and discover myself in another place in just a few minutes, needing a whole new kind of comfort.

(picture from safebee.com)
Sometimes I want sympathy, or to hear that yes – I was right in that last disagreement that ruffled my feathers. I may just need a hug; a smile. I may need someone to simply listen to me rant. I may need to hear a soothing voice in my ears. I may want silence, or I may need a momentary distraction from my own thoughts.

But, our heavenly Comforter always knows just what we need, just who we need it from and just how to get it to us. Yet, sometimes we flat out refuse to be comforted.

“God, I’m feeling a bit scared right now.”

“But, Helen, you love Me, right?”

“Lord, this pain is unbearable.”

“You love Me, don’t you?

“Father, it was totally not fair for her to treat me that way.”

“Do you love Me anyways?”

“Grrrrrr! God, that made me so angry!”

“Yet, you still love Me?”

My heavenly Comforter doesn’t question my love for Him. He challenges my love for Him – bringing me right back to the place of safety I desperately need be whenever I need comforting.

Honestly, that’s the place of safety I seek to dwell in all the time.

Hard times, emotional escapades and every day frustrations come at us to steal our joy, to derail our day, and to cause rifts in relationships. Yet, knowing we’re centered right there in the love of God, protected under the wings of the Almighty, hidden in Christ, brings us to our knees and to a place of complete surrender, submitting ourselves and our circumstance to the King of kings, Himself.

And therein, we are comforted.

(picture from fggam,org)

“Peace, be still my Child, I am with you always. I love you. You are mine.”

“Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always, by all means. The be with you all.” -2 Thessalonians 3:16 (KJV)

“Let your conversations be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” -Hebrews 13:5 (KJV)

“…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  -Matthew 28:20 (KJV)