Dear Heavenly Father,
I love you. Help me to accept more of your love. I thank you that, through your Holy Spirit, you have poured out your love, bountifully in my heart. I thank you that you loved me while I was yet a sinner. Help me to love others while they are still in their messes. To show them your unconditional, unfailing love. I pray that by my example, they can taste and see that you are good, that you love them. Thank you for my family. For those you have given me to love. May I be slow to anger and quick to forgive. May our relationships grow on the foundation of your love. Thank you for right relationships, Godly relationships. Bind us together, my natural and my spiritual families, with bonds of peace an love. That with one accord we can lift our praises to you. Help us to put our trust fully in you, Lord, because you love us, and that makes you trust worthy. I pray that by our love for one another, the world will see that we are your children-for you are LOVE.
In the name of your beloved Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen-so be it.
We all hope in something. Some of us place it in fate, in our abilities, our jobs, our education, in the government, or maybe our family and friends around us. Maybe all of the above. A lack of hope or hope that doesn’t come to an expected in can get us down and depressed. God says in Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” We have all expected something, hoped for it and then when the outcome was delayed or didn’t come to pass, were heartbroken over it. Maybe you prayed for your marriage, only to see it come to a divorce, or prayed for your child, only to see them walk down the wrong path. There are so many letdowns in this life, not getting that promotion or that raise, no tax return, no weight loss, no publishers sweepstakes, etc. That is why it is so important that we place our hope in God. All the other places aren’t able to give us what we hope for. They will come through part of the time, or part of the way, at best. But they will never give us our hearts desire. (Psalm 37:4).
“But I have placed my hope in God, and I still got passed over for that promotion, my child is still in jail, and the government kept my money and I didn’t get a return.” Sound familiar? I’ve heard it, thought it, and (surprise) even said it.In Hebrews 11, verse one says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We tend to hope, but leave out faith. We hope for it, that is the foundation of our faith. Faith only comes when we first have hope. We hope for better, then we ask God for it, next we stand in faith, in His promises, and believe He will do it. It may not be in our timeframe, or exactly how we envisioned it, but it will come. I waited twenty three years for the miracle in my marriage. I had “hope deferred” and a sick heart. But God came through. I honestly think it would have happened so much faster had we both cooperated more and whined less.
Maybe you are facing the hardest battle in your life up until now, cancer, betrayal, death of a loved one, financial ruin… Let’s take a look at Job. We all know his story. Satan accused God of too much protection and favor, when God pointed out His righteous servant Job. (Yep, God called attention to him.) Satan in his love for suffering asked God to take His hand of protection off of Job and promised God that Job would curse Him. Job lost everything, and I mean everything. All he had left was a wife, who told him to “curse God and die” after Satan was given permission to inflict his body, but not take his life. In Chapter 17 he seemingly loses hope, “where then is my hope—who can see any hope for me?” But later in Chapter 19, versed 25-26 Job responds in hope, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Finally in Chapter 33 Job not only gets more than he started with concerning his possessions, God grants him seven more children. “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” (verses 16-17).
Hope in the wrong source is worthless. Hope in God without faith is useless. Get to know Him, and you will trust Him more. Hope makes us stronger and stronger. Hope is the only foundation for faith. Romans 8:24 says,
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” We hope for things we do not already possess. Then true faith is the evidence that we are hoping for it. If there is no faith, then there isn’t a true hope. No true trust in the one who is able to perform for us. (Hebrews 10:23).
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
I was given a copy of “Tales of Ever” by the author, Jen Wylie, in exchange for an honest review. I love fantasy, and though I am only a few months from 50, I enjoy YA fantasy. One of the reasons is they are usually not so packed with sex and foul language. This one was perfect! It lacked both of those things, but had romance and danger. This was such a fun book. The characters were strong, yet vulnerable, the creatures were weird and some downright funny. The hostile world that our heroin finds herself in is filled with magic, good and bad. The writing is simple with just enough description. I think it is great for ages 12 and up. There is some violence and fighting. I give it a solid 5 stars and say “way to go Jen Wylie!”
Matthew 5:8 NIV “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.” Titus 1:15. What is in your mind, what is on your conscience? Do your thoughts run to things that lead to temptation, or to see the bad in others? That is an unclean heart, and (dare I say it!), unbelieving heart. If we truly believed that God is who He says He is and that we are who He says we are, as His children, we wouldn’t harbor those thoughts. If our own conscience is clear, we don’t tend to search for sin in other’s lives. We weren’t put here to be the “sin police”. We were put here to love others and to show them the Father, just like Jesus did. Now that doesn’t mean that we “wink” at sin, or deny it. But our purpose is to help deliver them from their sin, to show them the way to Jesus so that they can be cleansed from their sin.
There are so many benefits to maintaining a pure heart. Job 17:9 (AMP) “Yes shall the righteous-those upright and in right standing with God- hold to His way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.” In Job 24:3 God’s word continues with, “Who shall go up into the mountains of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up in falsehood, or to what is false, not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing rom the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Do you want to hold to God’s way? To receive a blessing from the Lord? To be able to stand in God’s holy place? Then keep your heart pure.
Jesus said that is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out. The Pharisees where complaining that Jesus’ disciples hadn’t washed their hands before eating. In todays society where everything is antibiotic from soap, lotions, detergents, and baby wipes, where we are so concerned about germs that we are killing off good bacteria and the bad stuff is becoming immune to the antibodies, shouldn’t we be concerned about what is already inside of us and trying to spew forth? “For our of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).
We can sometimes be more concerned about what we shouldn’t eat, watch, listen to, etc., and I am not saying that isn’t important. But more important is that our hearts are right. Search your heart and see if there is something in there that needs to be removed. Surrender your heart to God. Allow His Spirit to look in those places that even you have been afraid to look at! He’s a gentleman. He will not only reveal it to you in a gentle way, He’ll help you fill that place up with the goodness of God. Meditate (not by emptying your mind, but by filling it with the word of God) on all His goodness. Remember what He has already brought you out of, how much you have already changed. If you find yourself thinking or speaking negative about anything, be it people, places, or circumstances, STOP. Cast those things down, ask God to forgive you, and anyone who heard you.
We all mess up. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. So take His! His righteousness is given to us at salvation. Then as we keep our hearts pure, we get stronger and stronger. Not is physical muscles, but in spiritual muscle-faith, hope, love, joy, courage, patience, meekness, longsuffering, self control, all those fruit of the Spirit, things we need in this day and age.
“Surely God is good to Israel, Even to such as are pure in heart.” Psalm 73:1
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10,(David wrote this after sinning with Bathsheba, it’s never too late!)
“But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned:” I Timothy 1:5
Now get to work! Search out for yourselves some scriptures on pure and clean hearts. A great recourse is this website http://biblehub.com/
I was given a copy of this book by the author, Augustin Guerrero, in exchange for an honest review. This book is a sci fi/dystopian military story. To me equal to a man’s action movie, with a small touch of heart. Par for the coarse, there is some swearing, including the f-bomb with several variations. So if you find that offensive, delete a star. There was no sexual content besides some joking between the boys. So if you are guy who likes sci do or military stories, you’ll love it. Or if you are a woman like me who loves the comrade-ery and the whole “brothers in arms” “no man left behind” themes that can be found in military stories, you will enjoy it (if the language doesn’t get to you). I give it 4 stars due to my dislike for the swearing. I can only recommend it for adults due to the language.
I was given a copy of “Forager” by the author, Peter Stone, in exchange for an honest review. I really liked this book. It is set in a dystopian future where the walls of the city are more for keeping people in, then keeping the savage Skels out. Clean fiction, no explicit sex or language. Great characters and an easy writing style. Though the author is Christian, this is not a “Christian” book. Looking forward to the other two books. I can recommend this book for jr. high and up. I give it 4 stars.
God is our Father and we are His children. The world should be able to discern that we belong to God. Not by our “I love Jesus” t-shirt and bumper sticker, but by our actions and our words. They are watching us. God’s word says in John 13:35 AMP, “By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].” We start by loving one another. We are in the last days, time is speeding up. God promised to make the end quick, to shorten the time of suffering.
In Romans 13:12-14 NIV, Paul writes to the Church in Rome. (Notice this is written to believers.) “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
I know most of us aren’t carousing, we don’t make a habit of getting drunk and we aren’t cheating on our spouses. (And if you are STOP!). So we can move on to the next couple of things, dissension and jealousy.
Dissension means -disagreement that leads to discord. Some synonyms for dissension are, disagreement, difference of opinion, dispute, conflict, friction, strife, discord, antagonism, and infighting.
Far too many churches have been torn apart by these very things. We may not be experience these things at this moment, but I guarantee you we have in the past, and Satan doesn’t have any new strategies. He uses whatever has worked before. We have to be diligent. Preventative medicine is the best medicine. He uses the “conquer and divide” tactic quiet frequently in homes and churches, even nations. Jesus told us, “A house divided cannot stand.”
Jealousy means – the act of feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages. Some synonyms for jealous are, envious, covetous, and desirous.
Jealousy can be a cause for dissension. It rears its ugly head on the praise and worship team, on the usher and nursery teams. One wants to lead and is asked to serve. One wants recognition for serving, but is asked to serve behind the scenes. We look at those who seemingly “have it all” and want what they have without walking the path they had to walk to get it. Worse of all, we see God blessing others and think they don’t deserve it, or that we are somehow more deserving.
Instead we should be happy for blessings, no matter how, when, or to whom they come. All good gifts come from the Father, to His glory. He makes it rain on the just and the unjust. He chooses. Thank God, because we would so mess it all up. If we are supposed to pray for God to even bless those who persecute us, how much more should we be praying for one another?
Romans 13 goes on to say in verse 19, “So then let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Mutual- when they are edified, we are edified. Why? Because we are all part of the same body.
Instead of judging one another, we need to be helping and encouraging one another. Galatians 6:2-5,” Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” Paul is not contradicting himself here. We are to bear one another’s burdens and we are all responsible to bear our own burden.
Let’s look at it this way. In the natural, if we saw a little child trying to carry a load that was just too big and too heavy for them to handle, any one of us would take the load, take their hand, and take them where they needed to go. But if we continue to carry their whole loads as they grow, now they’re 5, then 10, then20…what’s going to happen? They will never get strong, never mature. Spiritually speaking, Jesus is the One who came along first and took our whole load, the entire burden, took our hand, and took us to the throne of grace. Then, in His wisdom, He allows us to go through some tuff stuff. It is to strengthen our faith, to learn to trust Him.
But, thankfully, He doesn’t leave us there. He knows that sometimes the load is just too heavy to carry alone. Instead of trying to play God and taking someone’s whole load, we are to come along side and help, to ease some of the burden. We do that by building them up, encouraging them and sometimes taking one small package of the big load. We help; we don’t do it for them. Just as we can’t obtain salvation for them, we can’t carry their load. In the same way we pray for the lost to receive salvation, show them Jesus by our words and actions, and even sometimes get to lead them to Christ, we also help our brothers and sisters by doing the same things. Pray for them, show them how to be strong by our own words and deeds, and always turn them to Jesus, their true strength and help.
Romans 15:1-2 AMP “We who are strong [in our convictions and robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak-we ought to help carry the doubts and the qualms of others-and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us make it a practice to pleas (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him-that is, to strengthen him and build him up spiritually.”
We lay hold of God’s word. Have a blessed hope in His ability to fulfill His promises and then show others how to do it. Hebrews 10:23 AMP “So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess, and our acknowledgment of it, for He who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word.”
Verses 24 goes on to say, “And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities.” We have to be in relationship with our brothers and sisters. Keeping our eyes open to what they may be going through. Each of us also has to be humble enough to ask for help. Not expecting someone else to handle our every problem, but to come along side to pray for and shore up the week places. If there is a need we can meet, give a hand. If you are on the receiving end, don’t make it a habit of running to people. Run to God first and give Him some time to work things out, in you and in your situation. Our timing isn’t His.
When we have unity in the body, when we are joined together in bonds of love and of peace, God gets the glory. Romans 15:6-7 NAS “That with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the Glory of God.” Verse 14 AMP, “Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also.”
Our unity bears fruit. We will see the fruit of our labor, not just in the future or in heaven one day, but right now. Our churches will be full, not of people coming out of religious tradition, but because they love God. Colossians 1:10-12 NIV, “So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and 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 giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” We are coming into a time when we will need the strength and power of God. We will need endurance and patience. He has already qualified us through His shed blood; it’s time for our inheritance.
A final scripture, Colossians 3:12-17.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”